RVNA Registered Dietitian and Nutrition Educator, Meg Whitbeck, MS RDN, shares lessons from her recent 30-day no-sugar streak
March is National Nutrition Month – a month dedicated to educating the public on the importance of sound eating habits for lifelong health. While there seems to be a “month” out there for every cause under the sun – this is one that you shouldn’t ignore. Why? Well, because you can’t! We all have to eat – whether we like it or not!
This National Nutrition Month (NNM), I want to shine a light on something so simple, but so very important. Sugar. Recently, I embarked on a 30-day streak of eating where I eliminated absolutely every drop of added sweetener – real or artificial. Table sugar, maple syrup, honey, agave, Stevia, Splenda, Swerve – you name it, I didn’t consume one ounce of it. I learned a few things that enlightened even me, a seasoned dietitian.
- Brain Impact: Consuming sugar produces effects on the brain similar to that of cocaine, causing us to seek out even more sugar. Sugar has that kind of addictive control of our brain and appetite.
- Sugar really is in everything: I found it in mayonnaise, bacon, salad dressings, soups and stocks, sausage, medications, supplements and even skin lotion.
- Sugar goes by many names: dextrose, brown sugar, cane crystals, corn sweetener, fructose sweetener, maple syrup, raw sugar, honey, high fructose corn syrup, maltose, fruit juice concentrates, corn syrup solids, evaporated cane juice, molasses, liquid fructose, white sugar, syrup, nectars, rice malt, erythritol, galactose, maltodextrin, diglycerides, disaccharides, xylitol, sorbitol, and so many more. Manufacturers try to hide sugar on the ingredient label so we don’t see it.
- Sugar is a major influencer. Sugar plays a major role in weight gain, insulin resistance, dental health, Diabetes, gut health, brain function and so much more. (Stay tuned for a future blog post addressing this topic.)
- Most of us probably have too much. Sugar is something you need to eat MUCH LESS OF. But how? Opt for real food that has no packaging, label, or ingredient list. Where can you find those? The produce department.
Luckily, there is a new tool from the FDA out there to help us in our journey to cut back on added sugars in our diet. The Nutrition Facts Label has an update which requires that added sugars be listed on the Nutrition Facts label clearly – so there is no more fooling the consumer.
Here is my challenge to you for National Nutrition Month: Eat Less Sugar. See where you can identify added sugars in your diet and find a healthier alternative. This includes artificial sweeteners like Splenda, saccharin, aspartame, Stevia, NutraSweet, Sweet n Low, acesulfame potassium and sugar alcohols (which won’t appear on the Nutrition Facts Label!).
Your mind and body will thank you!
Please don’t hesitate to write or call RVNA with questions. 203-438-5555.