What do you know about your sugar?

I recently attended the American Association of Diabetes Educators conference in Indianapolis. How great and refreshing it was to be with 3,000 other diabetes educators from across the U.S. At this conference, there was a great display from the Abbott Freestyle “Know Your Sugar Tour” bus, which is a cross-country expedition to raise awareness about the ill effects of sugar on the body. This tour, featuring one-of-a-kind sugar sculptures made by world-renowned Irish sculptors Brendan Jamison and Mark Revels, promotes the importance of understanding sugar’s effects on the body.

When there is extra sugar, it can be stored in muscles and liver for later use, but it also can be stored as fat.

We Need Sugar—to an Extent

Our body is fueled by carbohydrates, fats and proteins. Sugar is a type of carbohydrate that occurs naturally in foods, but can also be added during food processing. Sugar is consumed in many different forms, but our bodies digest almost all of the sugar we eat into glucose. Glucose is the primary sugar our bodies use to create energy.

Our bodies do need a minimum amount of sugar every day to function properly. The reason for this is that glucose is the only source of energy for the brain and red blood cells. The human bloodstream normally contains only about 5 grams of glucose at any one time, which is the equivalent of just one teaspoon of sugar.

But Too Much Sugar Can Risk your Health

Sugar is not the enemy, as it is our fuel source, but too much sugar can be. So when we eat, this is what happens…

When there is extra sugar, it can be stored in muscles and liver for later use, but it also can be stored as fat. Additionally, if there is too much sugar, adverse effects start to occur within our bodies. Too much glucose in the bloodstream is the third highest risk factor for premature death worldwide, preceded only by tobacco use and high blood pressure. Additionally, consistent high blood glucose can lead to serious diseases affecting the heart and blood vessels, eyes, kidneys and nerves.

Steps for Managing your Sugar

Now, I’m not trying to alarm you! Insulin resistance, an effect of too much sugar in our bodies commonly known as type 2 diabetes, can be managed with healthy eating, increased physical activity and education and awareness. Complications in diabetes can also be better managed with:
• early diagnosis
• health professional support
• controlling glucose levels, blood pressure and cholesterol levels
• access to insulin, oral medications and monitoring devices.

You can get started on eating less sugar right away by making the following food choices:
• non-starchy vegetables
• whole-grain foods
• fish 2-3 times a week (fried fish doesn’t count)
• lean cuts of beef and pork
• removing the skin from chicken and turkey
• non-fat or low-fat dairy products
• water, unsweetened tea, coffee and calorie-free ‘diet’ drinks instead of drinks with sugar
• liquid oils for cooking instead of solid fats (limit quantities)

In addition to changing what you eat, you can change how you eat. Consider making the following changes to your eating habits for better health and balance:
• eat a variety of foods
• eat small portions several times a day
• match how much you eat with your activity level
• eat few foods high in calories, cholesterol, saturated fat, trans fat and sodium.

I know this sounds like a lot, so to simplify:

Try to not go more than 3-4 hours without eating, get a portioned amount of carbohydrates and protein together and follow My Plate guidelines with portioning all types of foods. Strive to get some movement in daily. This could be going to a gym, walking, “chair walking,” water therapy, exercise classes—anything you want, really, as long as you’re moving! Don’t hesitate to also set up an appointment with one of the dietitians at Springfield Clinic, too.

5 Hidden Sources of Sugar

Cutting back on one’s sugar intake is always one of the best first steps to take towards healthier eating habits. However, sugar can be found lurking in every aisle of the grocery store. You know to limit sweets, soda and candy but watch out for some of these hidden sources of sugar that could be sabotaging your health.

Salad Dressing

You’ve heard the phrase that a perfectly good salad can be ruined by its dressing. This is especially true when that salad dressing is nothing but a spoonful of sugar. Believe it or not, a serving of salad dressing can have more added sugars than a candy bar. Beware of fat-free salad dressings as these are usually the ones with the highest amounts of added sugars. Classic ranch, Italian and unsweetened vinaigrettes are good low-sugar choices.

Greek Yogurt

Greek yogurt has become America’s excuse to eat ice cream for breakfast. You read that right. Most Greek yogurt options contain more sugar than ice cream. I know what you’re thinking. “But Amanda, I thought Greek yogurt was supposed to be healthy for me”. You’re right, it was when it originally debuted on store shelves a decade ago. However, most people couldn’t get past the thick, tart taste of natural Greek yogurt, so to boost sales and increase palatability, manufacturers began adding more and more sugar to their products.

Nutella

Nutella just sounds fancy and sometimes fancy-sounding foods are mistakenly taken as healthier options. There is nothing fancy about the amount of sugar found in Nutella. In fact, it’s nearly all sugar; it’s even the very first ingredient listed on the nutrition label. Putting Nutella on toast is no different than covering your toast in maple syrup. You’re much better off with toppings that provide protein and/or healthy fat like peanut/almond butter, mashed avocado or my favorite, an egg!

Granola/Granola Bars

Granola bars gained popularity decades ago because they were the perfect low calorie/low fat snack. Remember low-fat usually translates to high-sugar. Food manufacturers have known this for a long time. If you can’t flavor something with fat, you need to enhance taste with sugar. Even organic, whole-food bars fall victim to being high in sugar. Swap your granola bars for a low-sugar protein bar. Your insulin levels and waistline will thank you. 

“Energy” anything

In the world of food marketing, the word “energy” is code for sugar. Fancy labeling and flashy packaging may make items like energy drinks and energy bars look enticing (especially for athletes), they are simply expensive versions of soda and candy bars. Save yourself the $$ and blood sugar crashes and choose items that naturally provide sustainable energy such as lean proteins and healthy fats. Combine cottage cheese, cheese, nuts or hard boiled eggs with fresh fruit for well-balanced food choices.

 

Healthy Tricks VS. Sugary Treats

Trick or Treat! When we think of Halloween, yummy and sugary treats such as candy bars and caramel apples usually come to mind. Rightfully so, this is definitely a day to indulge! However, the amount of sugar in these delicious snacks can be astronomical!

Whether you are hosting a Halloween party or handing out treats at the door, there are a variety of healthy options that are fun and festive!

Just a few examples of the amount of sugar in some of our favorite treats:
Snicker’s Fun Size: 17 g, Blow Pop: 13 g, Skittles: 42 g, Dots: 21 g, Reese’s (2 cups): 21 g.

For comparison, this is how many sugar cubes are in 2 Reese’ cups:

reeses

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Whether you are hosting a Halloween party or handing out treats at the door, there are a variety of healthy options that are fun and festive!

Cheese

Cheese is a good source of protein and does not contain any sugar. Cheese sticks will be ok unrefrigerated for 2-3 hours, so kiddos may eat these later if needed.

Fruithalloween

If you have clementine’s (“Cuties”) and celery, you have a pumpkin! Peel each clementine and leave in its whole, round form. Cut celery into 1 inch pieces and place in the middle of the clementine as a stem. Clementine’s are a good source of vitamin C and can easily fit in a Ziploc baggy.

Photo from Frog Prince Paperie

Veggies

If hosting a party, make a tray of witch’s fingers! Simply take baby carrots or carrot sticks and place ½ of an olive (black or green) on the tip as a nail. This can be served with dip or by itself. Carrots are high in vitamin A and a great, crunchy snack.

Water

To help keep kiddos (and parents of trick-or-treaters) hydrated, buy mini or full-sized bottles of water. Create labels out of construction paper or use Halloween-themed paper to cover original water bottle label. Many drinks such as juice and punch are high in sugar. These spooky bottles will help quench their thirst!

 

DEVILED EYEBALLS
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Ingredients
  1. 12 large eggs
  2. ⅓ cup plus 3 Tbsp mayonnaise
  3. 1 small ripe avocado, halved and pitted
  4. 1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
  5. 1 Tbsp minced scallion or shallot
  6. 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  7. ¼ tsp black olive slices
  8. 24 black olives
  9. red food coloring
Instructions
  1. Place eggs in a large pot with cold water, covering eggs by 1 inch. Bring to a full boil; boil 1 minute. Cover pot and remove from heat. Let sit, covered, for 15 to 17 minutes. Drain and run cold water over the eggs. Crack eggs and let sit in cold water 10 minutes or until cool. Drain, then peel eggs.
  2. Cut eggs in half lengthwise, then carefully remove the yolks, leaving the whites intact. Place yolks in a bowl; mash with 1/3 cup mayonnaise, avocado, mustard, shallot, lemon juice, and salt until blended. Using 2 teaspoons or a small ice-cream scoop, scoop yolk mixture into small balls and position in hollows of whites to resemble eyeballs.
  3. Press an olive slice into center of each yolk eyeball. Stir together 3 tablespoons remaining mayonnaise and a few drops of red food coloring in a small bowl for the "blood."
  4. Transfer colored mayonnaise mixture into a small sealable bag and snip the corner to form a pastry bag. Decorate eyeballs with bloodshot veins. Cover and refrigerate up to 6 hours before serving.
  5. Make Ahead: Egg yolk mixture can be prepared 1 day ahead and refrigerated. Fill egg whites, decorate and refrigerate up to 6 hours before serving.
Notes
  1. From kitchendaily.com
Something to Chew http://somethingtochew.com/
Alana Scopel

 

 

 

Figge’s Summer Trends: Dieting Tips

With a new season comes new trends! Last week I introduced you to some fun gadgets and ideas to get you and your family off the couch and in the yard for some outdoor fun! This week I’m going over the latest in tips to improve your diet.

Figge's Summer Trends- Diet Tips

Mindful Eating. We have been seeing a gradual decline in dieting this past year with a greater emphasis put on simply making better nutritional choices more consistently. The principle behind mindful eating is to emphasize whole, fresh foods and decrease consumption of processed foods, added sugars and restaurant-prepared menu items. Eating mindfully can help improve overall feelings of wellness as well as help with weight loss for many individuals.

Saturated Fat is Back Baby. Better late than never is my motto! Researchers have been speculating for quite some time now if fat, or specifically saturated fats, aren’t really that bad for us. Saturated fats can be found in foods such as eggs, cheese, red meat, butter, coconut, poultry skin, grain-based desserts, candy, chips and fried foods. Scientists are more conclusively concluding that saturated fat is not as big of a demon we once thought it to be. While I do personally enjoy eating saturated fats, I do encourage caution on processed foods with saturated fats (grain-based desserts, candy, chips and fried foods) as we are still unsure of those effects on the body. Keep in mind that these food sources are also not natural occurring saturated fats like eggs, butter and coconut are.

Anti-Sugar Movement. With the rise in popularity of fat, sugar is now being more closely scrutinized. This is all music to my ears, but I feel we have just seen the tip of the iceberg with this health movement. Sugars in the form of candy, sweets, juice and soda absolutely need to be minimally consumed; however we get excess sugar in our diet from grains, breads, cereals, potatoes, snack foods and sweetened dairy products to name a few. Excessive carbohydrate consumption has been linked to increased insulin levels, blood sugars and inflammation. Since it is hard to cut back on all of these items I do recommend cutting out three: fruited yogurt, juice and granola bars. Here is what you are actually eating:

  • Juice = soda with a squirt of Vitamin C
  • Fruited yogurt = adult pudding
  • Granola bars = glorified candy bars

Happy Blog-a-versary!

imagesIt’s been one year since we launched Something To Chew On! Thank you for continuing to stop by and read, comment, or share my blog posts!

What better way to celebrate than with cake, right? After all, we can have “everything in moderation.”  Before I get to my amazing gluten-free cake recipe, I want to address a few concerns regarding the definition of moderation. The whole “moderation rule” implies that you can eat anything you want, as long as you consume the less healthy foods “in moderation.” One big flaw with this statement is that everyone seems to have a different definition of what moderation actually is. For example, many think that moderation is having only a couple of chocolate candies every day instead of the entire bag. I’ll note that this is showing better portion control; however, this isn’t necessarily moderation. This is a habit. You have to look at the big picture,when analyzing your moderation skills. I’ve had patients state they only have cookies a couple of times per week, but they also had pancakes, ice cream, pizza, fast food burgers, chicken tenders “a couple times per week” as well. Try to limit unhealthy foods to no more than 2-3 times per week. This encompasses all unhealthy foods combined, not individuals foods as mentioned previously. This may be somewhat strict for some people, but it will really help open  your eyes to how much unhealthy food we are accustomed to consuming on a regular basis.

Another problem with this is that there are some really bad foods out there that we should try to limit as much as possible, such as sugar substitutes, high fructose corn syrup, trans fats and processed white grain products, to name a few.

I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t have a perfect diet, but I do practice good moderation with less-healthy food items. I do enjoy ordering French fries when I dine out; however, my husband and I only dine out about once a month. We both also love pizza, but typically only have pizza once every 2-3 months. We didn’t always practice this type of moderation; believe me, when you start eating clean, unprocessed home cooked meals on a regular basis, your body will feel on top of the world. When we go out for something that is unhealthy, I almost immediately feel bloated, sluggish and experience abdominal pains.

This is a gluten-free chocolate cake that I made for a celebration. Like all sweets, this is something that should only be enjoyed occasionally and good portion control should still be practiced. This is certainly not the healthiest recipe I have submitted, but if you have children that have celiac disease, then you know how hard it is to find a good gluten-free celebration recipe.chocolate_cake

Chocolate Gluten-Free Cake-Brownies

  • 1 cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips (Enjoy Life brand is preferred)
  • 1 stick of butter (grass-fed is preferred)
  • ½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 3 eggs
  • ¾ cup honey
  • 1 tsp vanilla

1. Pre-heat oven to 375oF.

2. In a small, microwave-safe bowl, melt chocolate chips and butter together. Heat for short intervals and stir together until melted.

3. Stir cocoa powder, honey, eggs and vanilla into melted chocolate and whisk together until smooth.

4. Pour mixture into a small baking dish (8″x8″),or smaller if you desire a thicker cake/brownie.

5. Bake for 25-30 minutes (cooking longer will make the cake set more).

6. Remove from heat and set aside for cooling.

7. Enjoy a 2”x2” inch square with friends and family.

It’s Fair Time!

SONY DSCThe FAIR—quite possibly the quintessential summertime event. It’s a place where first dates occur, magical memories are created and you can find clowns, magicians, rides, music and…every deep-fried and sugar-coated food imaginable! My fair food diet vice came in three short words. Tom. Thumb. Donuts. To be perfectly honest, I have probably consumed thousands of calories over the years from these sugary-sweetened mini treats. Fair food is notorious for being laden with fat, sugar and calories and we can’t seem to get enough of it! There’s just something exciting about eating food on a stick, deep fried in fat or doused in powdered sugar. Having the occasional indulgence is perfectly normal; however, eating fair food every day of the week might leave you with a few surprises when you step on the scale Monday morning.

Every year, there is a new and improved fried concoction that hits the fair grounds. First there was the fried Twinkie and then came the fried Oreo and fried Klondike bar. While curiosity may lead you to these fried wonders, remember that other popular fair foods are also fried such as the jumbo corndog, fries, elephant ears and funnel cakes. Fried foods are very high in saturated and trans fats.

The American Heart Association http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/Cholesterol/PreventionTreatmentofHighCholesterol/Know-Your-Fats_UCM_305628_Article.jsp recommends consuming less than 15 grams of saturated fat per day and no more than 2 grams of trans fat per day. Following a heart healthy diet is important for everyone, but these guidelines should be strictly applied by persons with heart disease and diabetes. Saturated and trans fats are the types of fats we strive to limit in our diets because they have been found to raise triglyceride and bad cholesterol levels.

Did you know a jumbo corndog and 2 fried Oreos contain a whopping 26 grams of saturated fat and 5 grams of trans fat.  That’s more than two days of fat consumption in one snack!

If you’re trying to be somewhat diet-conscience with your fair food choices, there are healthier options available. Grilled meats will contain less trans fat than fried ones. You can almost always find a pork chop sandwich vendor and my personal favorite is the BBQ stand for a pulled pork, chicken or turkey. You can even sneak in a serving of vegetables by adding lettuce, tomato and onion to your sandwich.  Vegetable kabobs or fire-roasted corn on the cob also make healthier choices. Fairs can be an excellent opportunity to walk around and get extra physical activity.

Am I telling you to never eat fair food again? No; that would be completely unrealistic and darn right hypocritical of me. Fairs only come around once a year and the occasional indulgence is perfectly fine. What I do want to highlight is the fact that we sometimes lose touch with what moderation actually means. For many people, healthy eating behaviors are thrown out the window come 5:00 on Friday and don’t get picked back up until Monday morning. If your weekends are already filled with high-fat, high-calorie foods from appetizers, pizza, horseshoes, burgers and fries, then it may be a good idea to lean towards the lighter options served out at the fair. For people who generally eat healthy (lean proteins, fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy products, portion control of carbohydrates) all summer long, having a corndog and lemon shake-up won’t kill the diet.