28 April 2010

Sugar: I've cut it out.

People have asked me how I've done it & what they can do to reduce sugar in their diets as well. It's really not that hard.

The first thing to do is to read labels. Did you know that a 6-oz. carton of Yoplait piña colada yogurt (Bear's favorite) has 21 grams of sugar? Naturally, six ounces of yogurt (in this case, Cascade Fresh fat-free plain yogurt) will contain about 10 grams of sugar. This is due to the presence of the milk sugar, lactose (see http://lowcarbdiets.about.com/od/whattoeat/a/yogurtcarbs.htm, and esp. info on how the live cultures break down the lactose). The additional sugars in the Yoplait yogurt (and other regular brands) are from two sources: the fruit and, yes, added sugar.

What about that fruit? Fruit is a natural source of sugar, so I've had to watch the types of fruit I eat as well, and what I combine them with. An apple a day is fine, as long as I pair it with some cheese or a few almonds. A banana is better with some peanut butter. According to a dietician I saw when I began this change (in reaction to learning that I am hypoglycemic), the best fruits are those with lots of seeds: raspberries, strawberries, and so forth.

Plain yogurt is so, well, plain... How can you stand to eat it? First, once you cut the sugar in your diet, things that seemed too bitter before aren't and, on the other hand, things that seemed fine before taste way too sweet. But that doesn't mean I like plain yogurt. I dress it up. Take six ounces of plain yogurt, add half a cup or more of those nice seeded berries, toss in some chopped walnuts, and, for added sweetness and texture, some UNSWEETENED coconut. Forget ice cream; this stuff is good!

How could you possibly give up chocolate? Who says I gave up chocolate? Here's another reason to read your labels. Did you know that a 43-gram Hershey's bar (regular size bar; see http://www.hersheys.com/products/details/hersheysbar.asp) contains 24 grams of sugar? Ouch! While I really, really love milk chocolate, it's something I've had to steer away from. Instead, I've gone for dark chocolate. But not 50% dark, or even 70% dark — we're talking 85% to 90% dark. A 41-gram bar of Hershey's Special Dark still contains 21 grams of sugar (note, the same amount as a serving of Yoplait). The highest percent dark chocolate bar I have been able to find is by Lindt. A 3.5 oz bar (about 99 grams) of their "Super Dark" chocolate has nine grams of sugar. Wow! I can eat half of one of these bars and still ingest less sugar than is in my plain yogurt! But there's a catch: A Lindt "Super Dark" bar has a lot of fat in it — 360 of the bar's 550 calories are from fat. So, don't go all crazy on that chocolate! (I'm currently "researching" dark chocolates [85%–90%] for a future post comparing taste, sugars, fats, and calories in six different bars, so watch for that!).

Along with cutting out sugar, it's a good idea to increase your protein and fiber intake. In the morning, I have eggs scrambled with onion, broccoli, and brown rice. Or, if I'm feeling self-indulgent, I'll have peanut butter on a brown rice cake or some gluten-free "Glutino" fiber bread. Again, read your labels! Natural, organic peanut butter is just that — peanuts, with no added sugar. The brands you usually find in the grocery store have had corn syrup, sugar, and even molasses added, along with unnatural oils. Once you get used to it, having to stir and refrigerate your peanut butter isn't all that inconvenient.

Oooh, and one more thing: My new favorite: Sugar-free pbjs! No, I don't use jam; I use frozen raspberries. I warm the raspberries in the microwave (defrost for 1 min., then cook for 30 sec., stir, cook for 15 sec.), spread them on my gluten-free toast, and mush that together with my natural peanut butter on another piece of gluten-free toast. Yum! Note: Even though this is really tasty, it's really not a good idea to have this pbj for breakfast, lunch, AND dinner. LOL.

I'm not a dietician, a nutritionist, or a medical professional — just an editor. But I think eating is a good idea, and eating so you are WELL is even better.

In the word's of Julia Child, "Bon  appétit!" But I doubt she would approve of this blog, unless I added butter.

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