health

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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Why You Shouldn't Give Up Snacking...

{a book review, a recipe, and a GIVEAWAY}

 

I love snacks. I'm the kind of person who needs to eat every couple of hours. Smaller meals throughout the day seem to work best for me (but this doesn't mean it's right or what works best for you).

Snacking can be part of a very healthy diet as long as it's incorporated appropriately. Not only does snacking help with weight management and increasing energy levels, but also can improve our metabolism, reduce sugar cravings, and improve blood sugar control.

While so many of us are snackers, snacking can also be super challenging. I find it's often clients downfall in reaching their health or weight goals. I know how it is, all you have to do is walk by the kitchen and the chips and crackers are screaming your name. It can be so easy to over do it on snacks when they aren't planned out or balanced. A little prep and planning is key!

Fellow dietitian, Sarah Koszyk, recently published a book that I love and highly recommend: 365 Snacks For Every Day of the Year. Whether you're a planner or a mindless muncher, this book is for you. 

In her book, Sarah goes into detail about the benefits of snacking with a ton of (365!) amazing recipes and snack ideas. She explains the components of a healthy, satisfying snack (think protein and high fiber carbohydrate) and provides tips for planning healthy snacks for your whole week. Sarah helps take the effort out of planning and prep to make healthy snacking easy, affordable, and delicious- because why can't corn on the cob or cucumbers and cheese be a snack?

The book is broken down into sections with recipes and ideas for wherever you go:

Snacks At Home
Snacks At School or Work
Snacks On the Go
Snacks At a Convenience Store
Snacks For Your Sweet Tooth

Snacks At a Convenience Store is my fave. Nowadays, we all think we're super busy and find ourselves eating on the go more than ever. If we don't plan ahead, we frequently end up at convenience stores or fast food joints to fill the void. When we think of convenience stores, many of us jump to potato chips and candy bars. There are now more and more choices to make healthy eating possible on the go. Next time opt for some fruit with nuts or string cheese or even microwavable soup. Check out Sarah's book for a ton of ideas and RD approved brands.

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The recipes in this book are super simple. Most of which you can pack on the go or make ahead of time. One of my faves is the Date Rolls with Coconut and Whole Almonds. I definitely have a sweet tooth and this is a sure way to satisfy it while still filling me up (it has protein!) till my next meal. Check it below.

Date Rolls with Coconut & Whole Almonds

An energy booster with natural sweetness.
4 whole pitted dates + 1 Tbsp shredded coconut + 4 almonds = 230 calories
Slice the dates open and stuff each date with shredded coconut and 1 almond each.

 

P.S. I forgot to mention all the snacks are less than 250 calories!  #winning (is that still a thing?)


Ok, now time for the GIVEAWAY!

**UPDATE: GIVEAWAY HAS ENDED

be sure to check out Sarah's book on Amazon too!

To Enter:

1. Please follow Sarah on either Instagram or Facebook.
You can find her pages here: 

(*scroll to the very bottom and get bonus points for following me too*)

2. Complete the form below to sign up to get the latest nutrition info, updates, recipes and more right to your inbox each month. You won't regret it:)

The more you follow/sign up for the more entries you'll get. 
Winner will be announced on Monday, February 6th. 
Good luck!