40/60 Challenge #2 – Curb that sugar addiction!

sweet tooth Let’s face it. There is sugar in almost everything we eat. The question is how much of it is a “natural sugar” and even then, are we consuming too much of it? Even if you don’t eat candy bars and cookies all day, you may be surprised how sugars are hidden in many foods that you eat. Often the ingredients don’t even list “sugar” as an ingredient. There are MANY other names for sugar or worse, low-calorie artificial sweeteners. Hungry For Change has a great article on how to spot sugar on food labels; “There are many different names for sugar. Two really good ways to disguise sugar on food labels is to use a long, scientific sounding word or to rename the sugar altogether. One of the easiest ways to recognize sugar on a food label is by recognizing the -ose suffix. When you find words that end in -ose, there’s a good chance it is sugar. Sugars ending in -ose include: Sucrose, Maltose, Dextrose, Fructose, Glucose, Galactose, Lactose, High fructose corn syrup, Glucose solids Just because it doesn’t end in -ose, however, doesn’t mean it isn’t sugar. There are plenty of other names as well that may or may not sound like sugar. Regardless of how they sound, the following are all sugar: Cane juice, Dehydrated cane juice, Cane juice solids, Cane juice crystals, Dextrin, Maltodextrin, Dextran, Barley malt, Beet sugar, Corn syrup, Corn syrup solids, Caramel, Buttered syrup, Carob syrup, Brown sugar, Date sugar, Malt syrup, Diatase, Diatastic malt, Fruit juice, Fruit juice concentrate, Dehydrated fruit juice, Fruit juice crystals, Golden syrup, Turbinado, Sorghum syrup, Refiner’s syrup, Ethyl maltol, Maple syrup, Yellow sugar” They also list 6 healthier alternatives for sugar, if you really need a sweetener:

  • Stevia
  • Coconut Palm Sugar (my favorite)
  • Raw honey
  • Molasses
  • Artichoke syrup
  • Lucuma powder

I’ve personally never tried the last two, but they sound interesting! When I find myself overwhelmed with trying to break an eating binge where I can’t seem to get enough chocolate (even if it’s dark chocolate, you CAN actually still eat too much of it!), baked treats or munchies like my favorite cheese curls (non-GMO corn doesn’t make them healthy) or fried food, I go on a fruit and veggie “cleanse” for a few days. I just finished up a juice cleanse which I supplemented with some eggs, cooked spaghetti squash, bananas and some homemade broth. It is always amazing to me how the cleanse resets my tastebuds. I actually lose the craving to eat greasy, artificially sweet and heavy foods and so when I start introducing my normal foods back into my diet, I don’t go crazy. A great article shared by Jen, one of the students at Spark actually highlights the dangers of artificial sweeteners. I mean the fact that it says, “artificial” sweetener is already a red flag! So your challenge for this week is to eliminate or at least, try to reduce the amount of sugar and eliminate artificial sweeteners from your diet for at least 5 days. Not eating processed foods will pretty much guarantee that can happen. Start looking at the labels on any prepared food you buy and look for any hidden sugars. Take a look at your daily diet and look at even one sugary habit you can drop. Are you a soda drinker? Maybe your downfall is a sugary frappuccino from Starbucks? The American Heart Association recommends that women consume no more than 6 teaspoons and men no more than 9 teaspoons of sugar per day. Here’s a little illustration of the dangers of eating too much sugar. sugar-addiction-cycle

40/60 Challenge #1- Eat your fruit and veggies!

Challenge #1 (Week starting 9/15)

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Eat the minimum recommended intake of fruit and veggies. As an added challenge,  try at least 5 NEW fruit and veggies and share your experience on the Spark Facebook page.  You know, the ones you’ve seen and heard about but never thought to try? Not sure what to do with them, post and maybe someone else can give you ideas! And whenever possible, try to use organic produce. (Look for the Dirty Dozen and Clean 15 )

Some quick and easy ways to incorporate more fruit and veggies into your diet:

  • Fruit salad and veggie salads that can keep for a few days, such as kale, broccoli, coleslaw, cucumber etc. Try to wash and prepare veggies for the entire week to save time and make it easier for you during the busy weekdays
  • Juice your fruit and veggies or use them in smoothies. No time to juice? Check out Fresh Market Cafe in West Des Moines and the Juice Co where you can pre-order juices for Juice Cleanses
  • Mason jar salads
  • Roast veggies to be used in egg scrambles, side dishes, salad toppings. Add fruit to cereal or salads.
  • Joining a local CSA or head to the DSM Farmer’s market – a great way to experience new produce! They might be as simple as fennel,  spaghetti squash, jicama, kohlrabi, passionfruit, bok choy, starfruit, chayote, a new variety of mushroom, grape, tomato or even apple.
  • Ask to substitute starches with extra veggies when eating out
  • Substitute raw veggies for chips, crackers etc for dips and snacks
  • Make frozen desserts using fruit, e.g., banana soft serve 

Eating plenty of fruit and vegetables is important for warding off heart disease and stroke, controlling blood pressure and maintaining vision and gastro-intestinal health.

The latest dietary guidelines call for five to thirteen servings of fruits and vegetables a day (2½ to 6½ cups per day), depending on one’s caloric intake. (1) For a person who needs 2,000 calories a day to maintain weight and health, this translates into nine servings, or 4½ cups per day (2 cups of fruit and 2½ cups of vegetables).

For most fresh or cooked vegetables and fruits, 1 cup is just what you would put in a household measuring cup. There are two main exceptions to that rule: For lettuce and other raw leafy greens, you need to eat 2 cups to get the equivalent of 1 cup of vegetables. For dried fruit, you only need to eat ½ cup to get the equivalent of 1 cup of fruit.

See the article from the Harvard School of Public Health for more details.