One-week challenge: (added) sugar

Added Sugar

Added Sugar

Last month, I introduced a one-week challenge asking participants to eliminate dairy products and have them track their process.  The results can be found here.

This time around, I find it fitting, since many of us have probably overindulged on sweets during the holidays (including yours truly because even those of us who know better don’t always do better), that the one-week challenge be to minimize or eliminate all sugars and syrups that are added to food during processing or preparation. In other words, if it’s listed as a separate ingredient on the food label, it’s an added sugar and should be avoided during this challenge. You can find out more about what is considered an added sugar on the USDA website.

As I’ve mentioned before, experimenting through trial and error is a great way to figure out what may or may not work for a person. Not many other food products have such high health risks—with the scientific evidence to back it up—as added sugar does. According to the American Heart Association, “[e]xcessive consumption of sugars has been linked with several metabolic abnormalities and adverse health conditions, as well as shortfalls of essential nutrients,” so I invite you to join me for one week, from Thursday, 1/2/14 – Wednesday, 1/8/14, to find out how we react to eliminating sugar from our diet. As a thank you, anyone who participates in this challenge will be entered into a random drawing to win a FREE one-hour nutrition consultation with me ($125 US value).

What you need to know: while we will be focusing mostly on eliminating added sugar during this challenge, naturally occurring sugars can sometime cause problematic spikes in a person’s blood/glucose levels, especially for anyone with insulin resistance. Naturally occurring sugars will not be listed on a product’s label (such as lactose in a carton of milk or fructose in a package of frozen blueberries) and whole fruits and vegetables don’t come with a label, so I’ve created a list here that you can refer to if you’d like to cut back on some of the foods that have higher-than-preferable amounts of naturally occurring sugar in them. My personal rule of thumb is not to eat—or eat in extreme moderation—anything with more than 15g of sugar in the “sugars” column or with a score of 11 or higher in the “glycemic load” column because these will add up over the course of daily servings and I likes me fruits and veggies. A more comprehensive list can be found here, thanks to Harvard University. 

What you need to substitute: while added sugar is a carbohydrate and supplies you with 4 calories per gram of energy, it does not contribute to your daily nutrients, so there’s nothing you’ll need to substitute to make sure you’re getting the vitamins and minerals you need.

Should you choose to take part in this challenge, please e-mail me or enter a note in the comments below. I will ask you to take a starting weight (which you will not share publicly) and keep a daily log of your progress including any issues that arise or seem to lessen. You may document your progress in the comments here daily, if you wish, though, at the end of the challenge, I will send you an anonymous survey to complete and then post the results on this blog.

Thanks in advance to those of you interested in participating. I look forward to seeing what this challenge holds for us!

Photo credit: Calorie Count