bozeman nutritionist

3 Reasons to Stop Hating Sugar

Sugar’s been getting a bad rap lately, and with good reason, it is by no means a health food and most of us consume far too much. Studies have linked excessive sugar consumption (excessive being the keyword here) with obesity, cardiovascular disease, Type 2 diabetes, and more. The media tends to go through phases hating on one food, food group, food component, or ingredient - from fat to gluten and now sugar- causing us to obsess over it whether we know the evidence or not. While I’m in no way endorsing sugar, I do think there’s a problem with food obsession. Here are three reasons why I think you should stop freaking out about sugar.

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Sugar Freak Out Doesn’t Look at Our Diets as a Whole

I think it’s great you’re trying to cut back on your sugar intake, but by obsessing over this you may be overlooking your own personal dietary downfall.

Personally, I have a sweet tooth, but many of my clients and friends prefer salty treats. I know many people who crave chips the second they get home from work and mindlessly snack by the handful. Meanwhile, they think they’re eating ‘healthy’ because they choose plain yogurt over flavored and avoid high fructose corn syrup. This is great but may not be the area they necessarily need to focus on or obsess over.

Our diet is comprised of not only what we eat but also how we eat including mindfulness, portion sizes, and more. Diets and dietary recommendations are completely individual. So while I may overconsume sugar, many of my clients likely do not. If you’re trying to eat healthier, I suggest looking at your diet as a whole (or asking a registered dietitian to) before restricting and obsessing over fat, gluten, protein, sugar, or anything else.

 

Food Restriction and Obsession is not a Healthy Lifestyle

I have an issue with food restriction. I like to encourage my clients that all foods can fit in a healthy lifestyle to try to promote a positive and healthy relationship with food. I find that when we tell ourselves we can’t have a certain food, we quickly begin to obsess over it and often crave even more of it.

To me, a diet is long term, sustainable behaviors, not necessarily a temporary program or quick fix. I believe a diet should focus on the foods you can eat not the foods you 'can’t'. While restricting sugar begins with positive intentions, it can quickly spiral out of control - whether the obsession intensifies, anxiety around food increases, or it initiates cravings and overindulgences.

While I don’t think you need to drink soda or eat bacon everyday, if you like them I think you should allow yourself to have a treat. Obsessing over foods is not a healthy mindset or lifestyle, so I’d encourage you to try not label foods as forbidden, or good, or bad, that’s no way to live.

 

Fruit is Good for You

As our obsession with sugar has exploded, we’ve even begun to point blame at fruit! Yes, fruit has sugar and ultimately sugar is sugar is sugar. However, 100% orange juice is different than soda and berries and bananas are different than candy bars and cookies. Fruit and fruit juice contain essential vitamins and minerals that do wonders for our health and our bodies, while soda and candy provide us calories with no other nutritional value (hence why we call them empty calories).

We could drink 200 calories in a 16oz soda or 200 calories in 1 chocolate bar and still feel hungry, while 200 calories in apples (about 2 large apples) would leave many of us feeling quite full. This is because whole fruit has fiber. Fiber aids in digestion, helps to fill us up, and slows the spike in our blood sugar.
 


While I think it’s great we’re taking a closer look at our health and our diets, I encourage you to focus on the foods you can have rather than those you ‘can’t.’ Focusing on including more fruits, veggies, whole grains, and lean proteins while being more mindful in your behaviors and choices will bring you far.


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5 Protein Filled Snacks to Bring on the Go

Some snacks keep us full till our next meal, while some snacks make us hungry half an hour later. The key to a good snack is protein. Protein helps to fill us up and keeps us full longer by slowing digestion. It is the key to satiety. Here are a few simple and delicious snack ideas that are easy to keep in your car, purse, or desk and will help keep you full till your next meal.

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1. Roasted Chickpeas or Edamame
Whether storebought or homemade these make a great high protein snack to bring on the go. Just a 1/2 cup of edamame or chickpeas contains 9 grams and 20 grams of protein, respectively. Although many companies are making these now (I like Biena Snacks and Seapoint Farms), they are just as easy (and likely cheaper) to make on your own. To make at home, place the beans on a sheet pan season how you like. Cinnamon is great on chickpeas! Cumin, or just salt, pepper, and a little olive oil are great choices too! Roast at 375 for about 30 mins. 

2. Homemade Trail Mix
If you're one of those people that picks out the peanuts or the raisins, etc. from the traditional store bought trail mix, it may be worth your while to make your own! Besides, many store bought varieties are filled with candy and sugar, something we may consider treat foods. Add the ingredients you like! I love almonds, walnuts (omega-3s!), popcorn (great source of fiber), and a few chocolate chips in mine :)

3. Peanut Butter Packets
There are so many varieties out there now! These make great, easy, and filling snacks to bring on the go. Pair with an apple, banana, celery sticks, whole wheat crackers, or eat it straight from the packet. You could also add a tablespoon or two to a small container to save a bit on cost. When buying peanut butter, I recommend the natural varieties. Read the ingredients, it should list peanuts and perhaps a bit of salt. Many of the pouch varieties have a bit of sugar added in as well. Choose varieties without hydrogenated oils (trans fats will soon to be out of our food supply!)

4. Tuna Pouch
Tuna is a great source of lean protein and omega-3s. The American Heart Association recommends we eat fish at least 2 times each week. Bumble Bee makes vacuum packed pouches that are easy for a day out and about- no need to refrigerate or drain any liquid. Pair it with whole wheat crackers or apple slices for a bit of crunch.

5. Meat Sticks or Jerky
I seem to be noticing more and more packaged, dried meat products lately. Vermont Meat Sticks are one of my favorites, they come in 8 flavors and have 6 grams of protein per stick. Epic and Krave are also popular brands that make some pretty awesome jerky. Like many packaged foods, jerky can be quite high in sodium. If sodium is something you are concerned with, be sure to read the nutrition facts labels (Epic products seem to be lower in sodium).

Homemade Applesauce

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Did you know over 2,000 varieties of apples grow in the US? They're probably one of my favorite fruits, especially this time of year. I know there's so many choices to choose from but I'm pretty traditional and I think just the classic macintosh are my favorite! What's your fave?

Apples are a filling and healthy snack on their own (or with peanut butter), but one of my favorite fall snacks is homemade applesauce. You could also eat this as a healthy dessert, mix it with oatmeal, serve as a side with dinner, on pork, etc.- get creative!

Homemade applesauce is so much more flavorful and satisfying than store bought, besides, it doesn't get easier than this...

 

Ingredients
4 apples any kind, cored and diced
~1 Tbsp cinnamon or 1 cinnamon stick
1/4 - 1/2 cup water
(I've noticed that the amounts seem to vary depending on the ripeness of the apples, adjust to consistency and taste)

Directions
1. LEAVE THE SKINS ON THE APPLES! They give the applesauce a nice pink color and they're a great source of fiber.
2. Heat the apple chunks and a 1/4 cup water in a medium-sized saucepan over medium heat.
3. Simmer until the apples are soft and easy to mash with a potato masher. The time it takes likely depends on the type of apple, but it should about 10 minutes or so.
4. Add the cinnamon. You may need to add more water as well, if the apples are sticking to the pan. You can adjust the water as needed to reach your desired consistency.
5. Mash the apples to the texture you like (leave some chunks if you like!). You could also use an immersion blender or regular stand up blender to puree the sauce until smooth (If you used a cinnamon stick, remove it before blending).