Did you splurge a bit over the holidays on the sugary holiday treats? Are you finding you are still craving more sugar than usual? If your “bad” bacteria (like Candida, for example) are overgrown from all the holiday lifestyle imbalance and stress, it could be triggering those cravings for the refined sugary foods! (See my other gut health blogposts for more information on how the health of our gut affects your overall health!) Regularly eating excess sugary foods results in elevated blood sugar. Overtime, insulin receptor sites become less effective and insulin resistance develops which can cascade into outright diabetes and a cascade of negative health effects.
Any time of the year is the perfect time to zap your sugar addiction and cravings. Cutting out refined sugars and focusing on whole foods to help reset your insulin function and reduce your cravings begins by becoming aware of how much added sugar is in your diet.
Reading food labels is the first step in really understanding how much sugar you’re consuming. This formula will help you make sense of the numbers when looking at a food label in regards to sugar consumption. Click the picture here and print it so that you can carry this with you for future reference!
1 tsp. of granulated sugar equals 4 grams of sugar.
Each gram of sugar is 4 calories.
1 tsp. of sugar has 16 calories.
To figure out the grams of sugar from calories, divide the TOTAL Calories from sugar by 4. Total cal/4 = g
Number of calories from sugar = grams of sugar x 4 calories per gram
To figure out the number of teaspoons in a serving, take the grams of sugar and divide by 4 g per tsp. Example, if there is 12 g of sugar /4 g per tsp = 3 tsp.
So, 12 g of sugar is equal to 3 tsp. of sugar and 48 calories (12 g x 4 calories per gram = 48 calories).
Remember, the US Dietary Guideline recommend limiting calories from sugar to 10% of your total intake. For a standard 2,000 calorie diet, this would allow for 50 g of sugar, or 12.5 tsp a day! Not everyone will be consuming 2000 calories a day, and even at that calorie level, 50 g of added sugar intake a day is way too much! The American Heart Association (AHA), on the other hand recommends 6 tsp sugar (24g) for women and 9 tsp sugar (36g)for men a day. For children the max recommendation is only 3 tsp. or 12 grams of added sugar a day. So what is your daily intake of added sugar? Spend a few days looking at labels and calculating your total intake per day, and you might just be surprised at how much you are getting! Even I was surprised when I did this over the holidays after a few family gatherings!
"Food is MEDICINE" is the mantra of Functional Medicine, and it’s true. Food gives messages to our cells and those messages produce either health or disease. Focus on whole fruits and vegetables with lots of fiber and nutrients, organic to avoid pesticides, and avoid processed, highly refined “food-like substances but not real food”! (Michael Pollen)
Be sure to include clean protein like grass fed and organic meats and high omega -3 fish like wild salmon, or plant-based protein meals including legumes, which are a rich source of fiber, complex carbs, and protein and also loaded with protective antioxidants.
Focus on low glycemic index foods which stabilize blood sugar (watch for an upcoming blogpost on glycemic index) vs. refined, processed foods which tend to be high calorie, low nutrient, high glycemic index.
Balancing a good protein, healthy fat and complex carbs will stabilize blood sugar and add satiety to keep cravings at bay for a longer period of time.
Get your Gut Healthy – balancing the gut microbiota and help with cravings (see previous posts on gut health for more info).
Remember, food is medicine, and every bite of food we eat gives messages to our cells… ultimately producing health or “dis”ease. Reframe your thinking around food. Think of food as fuel for your body and consider what messages you might be sending to your cells with every bite you take!
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