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The Sweet Spot on Sugar…

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Sugar may be bad for your teeth, but not necessarily bad for your health.  While it’s not considered a health food, it can have a place in your diet…

What Is Sugar?

A group of molecules that share a similar structure…aka “sugars” which include:

  • Glucose
  • Fructose
  • Sucrose (table sugar)
  • Maltose (glucose + glucose)
  • Galactose
  • Lactose (found in dairy)

Sugar is considered a carbohydrate in the macronutrient family; however, not all carbohydrates are sugars.  Some carbohydrates break down quickly/easily into sugars and others do not.  With that being said, not all carbohydrates do exactly the same thing on our bodies.

Why and When to NOT Feel Guilty About Eating Sugar:

#1: Natural Form: Sugar occurs naturally in fruits, veggies, and dairy products.  Links of sugar to heart disease, obesity, and diabetes has more to do with the abundance of sugar(s) found in processed foods.  So, if you’re trying to be mindful of your sugar intake, eat more natural foods.

#2: Minor Part of Your Diet: Be mindful of your sugar choices.  Donuts for breakfast, candy bars for snacks, and sodas for caffeine are not so healthy choices.  Adding a touch of brown sugar to your oatmeal for breakfast, dried fruit for a snack, and tea with honey for an afternoon pick-me-up are much better options.  Recommendations say you should have no more than 10 percent of total calories coming from added sugar.

#3: Healthy Foods are More Palatable: Sugar is in our foods for a reason.  It enhances other flavors, plays a role in color development of products, and helps to stabilize food.

#4: Quick Fuel: Sugar can supply us with a quick burst of energy.  Especially for those of us who engage in physical activity, we want things that are more easily digestible to provide ready to use energy.   Sources can include sugary cereals, candies, and powdered drinks (Gatorade, Lemonade, Kool Aid).

#5: You Had a Bad Day: Sometimes life throws us chocolate and we make cookies!  It’s ok to occasionally make the choice to answer that stress call using a not so healthy option as a coping mechanism. As long as you can rein it back in, eat the cookie or drink the wine.

#6: All a Part of the Social Experience: While it’s important, nutrition is not the end-all, be-all of life.  When your children want to go out for ice cream, take them, and treat yourself too.  Going out to dinner with friends?  Order something from the menu that will make you happy…and be ok with your decision!