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Five Ways to Reduce Sugar Intake

Sweetness in Practice Contributor - Oct 29, 2015
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For many, summer is a time of indulgence. Keeping cool with ice cream, munching on chips and dips at backyard BBQs, and dining out on vacation can often cause many Americans to gain extra weight. Now that swimsuits are packed away, kids are back at school and schedules are more predictable, it’s a great time for patients to get their diet and exercise routines back on track, and,“fall” back into a healthier lifestyle and reduce sugar intake

1. Sip Smarter
Sugar-sweetened beverages account for the vast majority of added sugars in the U.S. diet, and when it comes to soda, the sugar stats are alarming. In fact, a 12-ounce can of a regular soda contains about 40 grams of sugar, which equates to about 10 teaspoons!3 Therefore, making smarter beverage choices is absolutely essential when it comes to significantly reducing added sugars in the diet. For example, swapping that single, 12-oz sweetened soda for a calorie-free option on a daily basis will slash more than 50,000 calories and over 75 cups of added sugar from one’s diet in a full year. And, for those who add sugar or another sweetener to their daily caffeine fix, switching to a packet of zero-calorie Truvía® Natural Sweetener can save between 30-40 calories for every two teaspoons of sugar, agave or honey it replaces. By saving 30-40 calories each day of the week for an entire year, a patient can lose a little over 3-4 pounds.

2. Become a Sugar Sleuth
A recent study reported that 68 percent of the processed and packaged foods and beverages purchased in US supermarkets from 2005 – 2009 contained added sugars.4 Not to mention, these sugars are in foods where we may not expect them, including breakfast cereals, breads, crackers, yogurts, condiments, tomato sauces, and frozen dinners. It is recommended that patients read food labels to understand the total amount of sugar in the foods they are purchasing.

Additionally, by using the ingredient list on a nutrition label, patients can learn to identify the common sweeteners manufacturers use, and evaluate their purchases remembering that ingredients are listed in order of prominence. However, manufacturers now use more than 40 different sweeteners—-with often 2 or more sweeteners in one product—-so added sugars may be included several times in the ingredient list. To help your clients identify commonly used sweeteners, this infographic created by the dietitians at Appetite for Health identifies more than 40 common sweeteners used by the food industry.

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3. Bake Better
Baked goods are often laden with sugar, but it’s easy to reduce the amount of added sugars in popular treats by replacing some of the sugar with fruit puree (e.g. unsweetened applesauce or mashed bananas). Your patients can also use Truvía® Cane Sugar Blend or Truvía® Brown Sugar Blend, which both reduce calories from sugar by 75% per serving compared to full-sugar versions, and bake and brown just like sugar and brown sugar in recipes. Simply replace the recommended amount of table sugar or brown sugar with half the amount of Truvía® Cane Sugar Blend or Truvía® Brown Sugar Blend, respectively. The result is a treat just as delicious as the original, and with a significant sugar reduction.

4. Snack Smarter
Snack foods currently comprise about ¼ of Americans’ daily calories, but tend to take a large bite out of one’s daily sugar budget. In place of candy and other sweet treats, encourage patients to opt for more healthful—and satisfying—snacks from food groups lacking in the diet like fruits, veggies, and low-fat dairy. Great options include a piece of fruit with nut butter, unsweetened yogurt with fresh fruit, low-fat cheese with whole grain crackers, and veggies with hummus.

5. Keep it Simple - Buy Plain or Unsweetened
Since so many seemingly “healthy” foods contain added sugars, teach patients to look for unsweetened versions of common products such as non-dairy milk, breakfast cereal, yogurt, nuts, and snack foods. At home, encourage patients to use natural sources of flavor like vanilla extract, cinnamon, dark cocoa, nutmeg, or ginger, to add flavor and spice to foods—albeit without any calories. An added bonus: some herbs and spices have beneficial antioxidants and may have other important benefits when it comes to managing health.⁵

It is imperative that we give our patients the right tools to help them control their sweet tooth. The five steps outlined above are intended to increase mindfulness of reducing sugar intake, and if put into practice, can help put our patients on the path to better health. Now that’s some SWEET news!

To learn more about how Truvía® sweetener can play a useful role in a healthy balanced diet, click here. »


References:

  1. 1 Johnson RK, Appel LJ, Brands M, et al. Dietary sugars intake and cardiovascular health: a scientific statement from the American Heart Association. Circulation. 2009;120:1011-20.

  2. 2 American Heart Association. 19 May 2014. Frequently Asked Questions About Sugar. Retrieved from http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/GettingHealthy/Nutri...

  3. 3 American Diabetes Association. Edited 23 June 2014. What Can I Drink? Retrieved from http://www.diabetes.org/food-and-fitness/food/what...

  4. 4 Ng, SW, Slining, MM and Popkin, BM. Use of caloric and non-caloric sweeteners in US consumer packaged foods, 2005-2009. Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

  5. 5 Opara El, Chohan M. Culinary herbs and spices: their bioactive properties, the contribution of polyphenols and the challenges in deducing their true health benefits. Int J Mol Sci. 2014 Oct 22;15(10):19183-202