I am a stay-at-home mom of 3 awesome and busy kids. There is never a dull moment around here! I stay busy, but I always build time into my busy schedule for health and fitness. If I don't take care of myself now...who will, right!?! I love writing and editing and am grateful for the opportunity to blog for Today's Mama!

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Keep Your Sweet Tooth in Check

For the last five years I’ve been pretty conscious of the sugar that’s in the food that I purchase.  Five years ago my son was diagnosed with ADHD and instead of medicating him, we chose to try to control his hyperactivity through the foods we offered him.  I try really hard to purchase snacks and foods that contain no sugar or have less sugar that other brands.  I used to think this way of thinking was a little bit of a pain while grocery shopping.  But, before long, it became habit and is now just our way of life.  But, at times I feel I’m not as educated regarding sugar in foods as I think I am.  Companies are getting more tricky about how they label their food, which makes our job even harder.  According to the July/August 2013 Fitness magazine, we as Americans consume more than 100 pounds of sugar on average in a year.  And sometimes we aren’t even aware of it.  Here are some different names for sugar you might see on the packaging of your food:  dextrose, sucrose, honey, maltose, maple syrup, molasses, high-fructose corn syrup, evaporated cane juice, fruit juice concentrate or agave nectar.  Wow…if that isn’t confusing, I don’t know what is!

photo credited to Uwe Hermann and Flickr

photo credited to Uwe Hermann and Flickr

There are so many issues with sugar that it really should be in the forefront of our minds, as moms, to try to eliminate it as much as possible.  Our body’s natural way of dealing with sugar is to convert it into energy.  When we eat too much of it, our bodies store it as excess fat.  Well, that explains why so many of our children are overweight or obese today.    Not only that, but the more you weigh, the more you are at risk for type 2 diabetes and heart disease.  Also, the fructose in sugar is difficult for our livers to break down.  Because of this stress on the liver, those that eat a lot of sugar are at a greater risk for liver problems, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease.  Yikes!  These aren’t just adult issues anymore either.  Not with the amount of processed foods that are consumed nowadays.  We owe it to ourselves  and to our families to change our diets and turn these trends around.

So, what can we do to make the switch?  Well one thing we need to do is to know what we’re looking for.  (See above paragraph).  When you know those tricky words, you can look for them.  Try not to buy anything that has one of those “sugar” words in the first few ingredients, as ingredients are listed by weight in the food.  So, if sugar is the first ingredient, there is more sugar in the food than any other ingredient.

Start eating more whole foods.  Rather than snacking on processed foods, that are high in sugar and low in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, try grabbing a fruit or veggie instead.  Have them prepared and in the ready so you don’t have to put in too much effort when you’re really needing a snack.

Look for products that are “sugar-free” or say “no added sugars” rather than “lightly sweetened” or “low sugar”.  These phrases have no regulation and really mean nothing.

Artificial sweeteners aren’t always the way to go.  New studies are finding that consumption of artificial sweeteners in excess can cause you to gain weight.  The reason being, they give you the sugary sweetness, without the calories and leave you unsatisfied.  Then, you go looking for something more satisfying and end up eating something you shouldn’t.  Yikes!

One more important thought…DON’T skip meals!  When you skip, your blood sugar drops and makes you crave sugar.  This can lead to eating things you really don’t want to or weren’t planning on.  Keep your body fueled all throughout the day to help curb cravings.

Happy Fitness!

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