Best Nutritionist News! The Dietary Advisory Panel Aims to Curb Our Sweet Tooth and Get Americans Healthier: Here Are Some Easy Ways to Reduce Sugar in Your Diet
It always feels like there are new “findings” that contradict old information. Fitness and health magazines bleed with radical headlines. He says, she says is overwhelming, especially when we’re unsure as to where the information comes from.
It’s important, however, to discern between fads and backed scientific data. Where does the information come from? Is it backed by years of benchmarked research? And, it’s key to remember that our knowledge changes with time, with research, with new technologies and advancements. So, luckily, we’re not back in ancient Egypt using dead mouse paste to cure toothaches.
The Dietary Advisory Panel – an appointed federal nutrition panel comprised of the best nutritionists, registered dietitians, physicians, medical doctors and professors of medicine and nutrition – meets every five years to comb through the latest scientific and medical literature to prepare a report and dietary recommendations for the next edition of Dietary Guidelines. The entire report can be read here.
Once the data has been reviewed, the panel makes recommendations that, though are not official guidelines, impact the diets of millions of people. For instance, these guidelines are adopted by the Departments of Health and Human Services and Agriculture and taken into account when creating school program menus.
Two weeks ago, the panel released their recommendations, ones that have caused quite a stir. The long-time low-fat, low-cholesterol focus has shifted, leaving room for eggs and shrimp in our diets. But the big gulp has been about sugar. The panel recommend that no more than twelve teaspoons a day be consumed (for adults), as sugar has been a large factor in obesity and chronic disease in America. Considering the average American consumes between 25 and 30 teaspoons of sugar each day, more than double the recommendation, this new information can radically shift the way Americans eat . (Just for perspective, one 12 ounce Coca Cola has 18.2 teaspoons of sugar).
As a nutritionist, registered dietitian and personal trainer in NYC, this report confirmed what, I believe, we’ve all felt for a long time. The Guidelines Report stated that “Higher consumption of sugar-sweetened foods and beverages as well as refined grains was identified as detrimental in almost all conclusion statements with moderate to strong evidence.”
With our tongues geared to crave sugar, there are some practical, painless ways to reduce sugar in our diets.
Read Food Labels: A lot of sugars we consume are because we’re not even aware of the sugars we’re consuming. On food labels, ingredients are listed in order of how much each ingredient is used. If sugar, or any of its pseudonyms, are in the top five, that’s a red flag. Watch out for: fructose, sucrose, molasses, corn syrup, honey, brown rice syrup, maple syrup.
Buy “unsweetened:” This way, we can control how much sugar we want.
Cut back slowly: The idea isn’t to slash all sugar from our diet. But we can cut back. Instead of using one packet of sugar in coffee, try 2/3 of a packet … Pretty soon our bodies will find things “too sweet.”
Find yummy replacements: Proteins + fats (yes, fats) are great snacks. Almonds. Eggs and avocados. Olive oil drizzled on brown toast with feta cheese. Cutting sugar doesn’t mean cutting taste. Think of the great flavors nature has: nutmeg, cinnamon, vanilla bean … all “sweet” replacements. Plus, the flavor won’t be masked by the sweet.
“Diet” is not the answer: Replacing sodas with diet soda isn’t a way to cut sugars. Artificial sweeteners are ultra sweet and can kick in the crave even more. Our bodies work in the way that, when we eat something sweet, they expect calories and nutrition. Fake sweeteners are tricky because they give neither.
Sodas aren’t our only nemesis: Water, water, water … is the best way to hydrate. Most bottled drinks have oodles of sugar, even “sports” drinks (almost seven teaspoons per can). For added flavor, add a squeeze of lemon. Or make this delicious Raspberry Lime Iced Tea!
Indulge! Say, “yes” to the caramel brownie or ice cream sundae. It’s not about being radical, it’s about changing our general diets while indulging in the occasional Nutella crepe. Our bodies will get used to the reduced sugar diet, and pretty soon, instead of eating a whole brownie, we’ll choose to share.
If we give our bodies the time they need to adjust, it won’t take long to reduce sugars in our diets and become healthier, feel better, and boost our energy with whole foods.