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NIFS Healthy Living Blog

Reducing Your Added Sugar Intake for Better Nutrition

ThinkstockPhotos-185151583.jpgIf you have read the news lately, I’m sure you have seen that the world’s obesity epidemic is most recently being blamed on sugar. This is with good reason, too. In 1922 the average American ate the amount of sugar found in one 12-ounce soda every five days. Now, that amount is consumed every seven hours. Sugar is in everything—not just baked goods and sodas, but also bread, peanut butter, soy sauce, and even hot dogs.

So how much should you be eating, and how do you spot what is naturally occurring, like the sugar in milk and fruit versus added sugar?

Naturally Occurring Versus Added Sugars

For the first time, the FDA is putting a number on the amount of sugar that is recommended for Americans. The goal is to keep the added sugar to no more than 10 percent of their diet. For anyone over the age of 3, that means no more than 12.5 teaspoons, or 50 grams per day.

However, if you flip over the carton of your daily Greek yogurt and see 15 grams of sugar, how much of that is added for sweetness and flavor and how much is from the lactose or milk sugar that is good for you?

Use this handy list to know how many grams are naturally occurring from either fruit sugar (fructose) in your fresh fruit, or milk sugar (lactose):

  • 1 cup milk: 13 grams
  • 6 oz. plain yogurt: 8 grams
  • Cheese, butter, sour cream, eggs: less than 2 grams
  • 1 cup fruit: 7 grams (berries) up to 17 grams (orange)
This can be confusing when just glancing at a label. In March 2014, the FDA proposed including added sugar, in grams, on food labels. The new layout is currently being tested, and hopefully we will see the new changes on labels in the near future.

How to Reduce Added Sugar in Your Diet

The easiest way to decrease the amount of added sugar in your diet is to choose more fresh foods that have not been processed or packaged. Swap the pre-made snack for a piece of fresh fruit and a handful of nuts. Take a look at your overall food consumption and find other easy swaps to help with weight loss and overall health!

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If you are one of the 1 billion people trying to lose weight, don’t do it alone. NIFS has many options to help you reach your goals. Check out the Ramp Up to Weight Loss program and personal nutrition coaching sessions for more information.

This blog was written by Angie Scheetz, RD, Wellness Coordinator. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: nutrition healthy habits weight loss healthy eating snacks artificial ingredients sugar dietitian My Nutrition Coach

Are Recent Changes to Restaurant Menu Ingredients Good for You?

ThinkstockPhotos-200325352-001Have you heard the news about Panera? How about Chipotle? It has been in the news a lot recently that these chains are making dramatic changes to their menus. So, what are the changes and will they make for more healthy eating?

Panera Drops Artificial Ingredients

Panera has decided to drop all artificial ingredients from its menu. This list of 150 ingredients is called the No-No List. This list includes artificial sweeteners, preservatives, and flavors, and these ingredients will all be removed by the end of 2016. 

Even though the debate is still ongoing as to whether these ingredients can cause harm to consumers, Panera decided to not take the risk. It was reported that reconfiguring the salad dressing to meet the standards was the toughest menu item change. As of now there are no plans to increase the cost of the menu items to offset these changes. 

Chipotle Gets Away from GMOs

Chipotle has also decided to clean up its menu recently. The chain announced that it would be serving only food that is free of genetically modified organisms, or GMOs. In 2013 Chipotle was the first restaurant to show which menu items contained GMOs, and now it is the first chain restaurant to remove them. As with artificial ingredients, GMOs have not been found to be harmful to humans, but environmental working groups are concerned about the effect they might have on the food chain and environment. 

Are These Changes Better for You?

It is great that these companies are making an effort to provide safe food choices; however, these changes do not mean that the food is necessarily better for you. Most calorie contents won’t be affected by these changes; and in foods where artificial sweeteners are removed the calories may actually increase. 

So, if you are watching calories or wanting to lose weight, don’t be fooled into thinking the giant blueberry muffin will be the best option to help you get to your goal. That will still have 460 calories and 18 grams of fat! With any change in a nutrition announcement, the rule of thumb is not more is better. The goal is to stick to the basics. Incorporate as many fresh and unprocessed foods as possible into your diet. This includes reaching for 9 servings of fruits and vegetables every day!

Be on the lookout for more companies to make similar announcements soon. Kraft has decided to remove artificial coloring from its Mac & Cheese, and Pepsi is removing aspartame from its diet drinks. Each announcement can be a positive for consumers, as long as they remember to get in a balanced and fresh diet the majority of the time. 

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This blog was written by Angie Scheetz, RD, Wellness Coordinator. To find out more about the NIFS bloggers, click here.

Topics: healthy eating calories lunch artificial ingredients