Tips for Avoiding Added Sugars

Sugar has been getting a lot of negative attention in the media over the last few years. That’s because not only is it one of the main causes of our country’s obesity epidemic, but it also can cause preventable diseases such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease and cavities, just to name a few. Cutting sugar out completely can seem impossible but here are some simple things to look for to help avoid consuming added sugars.

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Read the Labels

There are products you know sugar is already in such as fruit juice, sweetened cereals and candy. The problem is sugar is hidden in a lot of foods we typically would not expect. Everything from tomato sauce, to ketchup, to granola bars and even some spices contain sugar. Make sure to read the label fully and look for the amount of sugar per serving size. Ideally, you should aim for sugar to be no more than 48 grams per day. There are about 56 grams of sugar in a bottle of Gatorade… just to emphasize the importance of reading the labels first before consuming.

Read our blog post ‘Limited Added Sugars’ for more tips.

Buy Fresh Foods over Canned

It is recommended by the USDA food guidelines to aim for five servings of fruits and vegetables each day and a colorful assortment of them. Although fruit does have sugar in it, these are natural sugars and not artificially added sugars like the ones we find in our processed foods. Canned foods, especially fruits, are swimming in syrupy sugar water in order to preserve their freshness and shelf life. Always choose fresh over canned and just shop for the amount of fresh produce that you’re actually going to eat that week, since it will go bad faster than the canned versions.

Try Healthy Substitutions

There are a number of baking substitutions you can use to reduce your sugar intake. Applesauce is a great natural sweetener to use in place of large amounts of sugar. You can also use extracts to bring sweetness to baked goods such as cinnamon and nutmeg. When you bake at home, you can even cut the sugar called in recipes down and not notice the difference in taste.

Make Your Own Food

The best way to make sure you don’t consume any extra sugars is to cook your own food at home. You get to choose the ingredients, you know exactly how much sugar goes into a recipe, and you can control your portion sizes. This is a great way to take control of your health and really give your family the healthiest foods. If you need some inspiration on lower sugar dishes, check out some of the healthy recipes below.

5 Healthy Ways to Enjoy Spring

It’s a fresh season, so why not a fresh start on your healthy habits, too? Here are five healthy ways to enjoy spring.

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1 | Fresh Fruits and Veggies

Asparagus, rhubarb, peas – enjoy the bounty of fresh in-season fruits and vegetables!

2 | Longer Days

Soak up the sun and enjoy the longer days of sunshine. Vitamin D is good for you immune system, bones and mood.

3 | Warmer Weather

Now that the weather has warmed up, spend more time outdoors. Research suggests spending time outdoors helps reduce stress and lowers blood pressure.

4 | Spring Break

Whether you’re off to the beach or planning a staycation, time spent relaxing and recharging is good for your health and long-term stress reduction.

5 | A Healthier Home

Open your windows and let the fresh air in as you spring clean your home and de-clutter. Did you know research suggests that people with organized homes are more likely to be physically fit than their cluttered counterparts?

Three Ways to Enjoy National Nutrition Month

It’s March and the snow and cold weather will begin to subside. Soon, flowers will begin to bud, and warmth will settle in. March is National Nutrition Month, and along with the beginning reminders that spring is on the way, and the court-side action during college basketball’s March Madness, this month is one to really appreciate! The intention of National Nutrition Month was initially put in place for those who work in dietetics and nutrition, providing a time to focus more efforts on getting the community to eat healthier. Whether you’re someone who works in healthcare, or are just someone who wants to focus on healthy eating, National Nutrition Month shows all of us the message is clear: focus on foods that provide the greatest nutritional value and supports our overall health goals.

Fortunately, this is something that with some practice and with some fine tuning of your meal planning, can be quite simple!

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VARIETY

First of all, focus on VARIETY. To keep your plate interesting, think of the colors of the rainbow and aim to have as many on your plate as possible. It’s easy for us to consume a diet of typically brown colored foods (e.g., potatoes, chicken, bread, pasta, etc.). Instead, try adding a side of grilled red and green peppers, some steamed broccoli or mashed sweet potatoes. Not only will this be more visually appealing and much more flavorful, but with even just one added portion of any of these veggies, you’ve instantly earned an extra boost of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fiber!

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EXPERIMENT

Secondly, EXPERIMENT with new or unusual foods. Try adding a new flavor to your palette each week.  This may be a simple as learning how to season eggplant to your liking, or trying something from another culture’s authentic cuisine. Whatever you do, start small and allow time to get to know the food. For example, never tried Indian food, but interested in giving it a go? Try reviewing the restaurant’s menu beforehand, ask your wait staff plenty of questions, and even bring along a friend who’s familiar with the cuisine and who can make some recommendations for foods to try. Find a familiar favorite on the menu and explore the different ways other cultures prepare it. Let’s say you love chicken, but usually just eat it grilled and with light seasoning. Instead, try ordering a new-to-you chicken dish, such as chicken tikka masala dish with mild spice to avoid feeling overwhelmed by the abundant flavors you’ll soon experience.  And even when you find you don’t particularly love a new food, don’t give up. There are so many out there yet to discover!

SWAP

Third, make the SWAP. Spend some time going through your pantry and kitchen refrigerator. Pull any foods that you know do not align with your healthy eating goals and find healthier versions to swap with. Do you tend to keep a lot of snack foods in your cupboard? Maybe you have a lifetime supply of frozen pizzas and ice cream in the freezer. Or, maybe you just can’t stop collecting bags of leftovers from late night binge runs to the local fast food joint. Whatever it is that fills this space and limits your full healthy eating potential, get rid of it! Make the swap for healthier versions. Try making your own frozen fruit pops or keep Greek yogurt on hand in place of ice cream. Try dehydrating sliced veggies (or always have fresh fruits and veggies on hand) to replace potato chips and high-sodium crackers. And for the fast food leftovers, opt for healthier take out restaurants that offer ‘lite’ menus or healthier options- such as baked or grilled in place of fried. Or, share with a loved one when you do eat out so you can avoid leftovers all together. If your goal is to avoid fast food, work towards this slowly by setting realistic goals where, with time, you will no longer have these food cravings.

March HEALTHpoints Drawing for iPods

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Do you want to win a new iPod Nano to load up with workout tunes? Earn 300 or more HEALTHpoints in March and you could be one of two lucky winners!

Congratulations to the February winners of $25 Target Gift Cards. All winners have been notified by email.

  • Adreanna – Denver
  • Adrienne – Denver
  • Ryan – Highlands Ranch
  • Susan – Wheat Ridge
  • Sharon – Boulder
  • Becky – Monument
  • Jennifer – Lakewood
  • Doris Jean – Loveland
  • Nicholle – Denver
  • Janet – Arvada
  • Sara – Commerce City