Sugar, Sugar

Ahh sugar, that lovely sweet taste many of us crave and enjoy. It is natural for us to like sweet foods as this is one of the tastes we develop very early. Not to mention sugar stimulates a pleasure response and this causes us to then become addicted to it. There are two different sugar categories we should discuss that affect our bodies differently. Naturally occurring sugar is found in fruits, sweet potatoes and winter squashes. These sweet foods do not cause harmful consequences so go ahead and eat those all you want a couple times a day. They will also satisfy that little sweet tooth.

When a food company adds sugar to their food, we call this added sugar. The most common sugary foods we think of are cookies, cakes, candy, soda, fruit juices, Gatorade, and etc. However added sugars can even be hidden in pasta sauce, yogurt or even salad dressing. When choosing a product look at the ingredient label and search out the hidden sugars and their different names, many end in "-ose."

Added sugars add calories to our diets which contribute to weight gain. This can then lead to diet related diseases such as cancer, type two diabetes or heart disease. Eating too much sugar can also weaken our immune system and prevent it from doing the job of protecting us-so we get sick more often.

This is why I say when we are craving that sweet treat why don't we grab an apple, pear, peach, orange, berries or whichever fruit is in season and accessible at the time. While we are at it we should also cut back on those sugar drinks and start drinking more water. You can try to carry around a reusable water bottle and be sure to always fill it up so you won't be without something to drink and then reach for the nearest beverage. Not only will this help your health but your skin will look fabulous as well. So this week I challenge you to drink more water and see how many more fruits you are eating.

Take A Look At Your Plate

We live in a fast paced society where we are very busy and look for items that are convenient, quick and easy to get. Many of us grab fast food to eat or packaged food that we can just heat up. I used to be like this as well but as I began my journey towards healthy eating I became more aware of the food I was putting in my body. Most of the food that comes in packages is considered Processed Food. A Processed Food is when you take a food in its natural state and change it by adding ingredients or taking healthy nutrients away. Here in this country, more than half of what we eat is considered processed food. Processed Foods are fats & oils, such as salad dressing or mayonnaise, sugars, such as candy or soda and refined grains, such as white bread and white rice. They are also foods that contain artificial ingredients, salt and preservatives.

I know we think these foods are quick, easy and taste good, but they can actually be harmful to our health. Processed Food can cause pimples, weight gain, low energy with sugar highs and crashes and can lead to diseases in the future, such as type 2 diabetes. As childhood obesity rates continue to rise we need to think about the food we are feeding our children and ourselves. We can help ourselves be and stay healthy by eating less processed food and eating more whole plant food. As you eat this week think about filling up more than half of your plate with plant food and a smaller portion of processed food. Remember this is a journey and we can't get it right every day but at least we can try.