Koslo's Nutrition Solutions

Friday, May 23, 2014

How Sweet It Is: Are You Eating More Sugar Than You Realize?

Obesity is at epidemic proportions and just who is to blame is tough to say. Fed Up, a new documentary from Katie Couric and Stephanie Soechtig, takes on the government and the food industry in a potent expose’ on the amount of sugar in our food supply and how it is fueling the obesity epidemic in our country. The film has created quite a bit of controversy, and while sugar may not be solely to blame for obesity, you may be shocked to learn just how much you are actually eating.
Sugar Shockers
Sugar is a carbohydrate found naturally in many foods from the lactose in milk to the fructose in fruit and honey. In fact, we need some sugar in our diets to fuel our muscles and feed our brains. But in our society of convenience, people rely on packaged and processed foods, foods that are loaded with added sugars supplying extra calories we just don’t need. A high intake of processed sugars causes our blood sugar to shoot up, giving us quick energy followed by a slump, which leaves us tired and craving more sugary foods. It’s a vicious cycle that could lead to obesity, tooth problems, heart disease, and not-so-healthy eating habits.
What’s My Daily Allowance?
The World Health Organization recently dropped its sugar intake recommendations from 10 percent of your daily calorie intake to five percent. For a normal weight adult, that’s about 25 grams or six teaspoons per day. And that’s the TOTAL sugar including both naturally occurring sugars as well as sugars added to foods during processing. Unfortunately the current food label doesn’t distinguish between added and natural sugars so the best way to cut added sugars out of your diet is to limit processed foods as much as possible and to satisfy your sweet tooth with fruit.
Spot the Hidden Sugar
One thing is for sure, just because a product has a nutrition-oriented statement on the package like “whole grain” or “25% less sugar” doesn’t mean it still doesn’t contain a shocking amount of sugar. For example, seemingly healthy foods like Fiber One Muffin Mix or Quaker Oatmeal to go have 15 grams and 19 grams of sugar respectively, per serving.
Look on the Label
Check the ingredient list for anything ending in “ose” (dextrose, glucose, sucrose, maltose, fructose) – these are all forms of sugar as are the following:
·      Brown sugar
·      Corn sweetener
·      Corn syrup
·      High fructose corn syrup
·      Fruit juice concentrates
·      Honey
·      Invert sugar
·      Malt sugar
·      Molasses
·      Raw sugar
·      Syrup
·      Rice syrup
·      Agave
Keep in mind that the higher up the ingredient list, the more sugar the product contains.
Alternatives to Sugar
When reading labels it’s also good to know your substitutes. For example, sugar alcohols like xylitol, sorbitol and mannitol occur naturally in small amounts in fruits and are often used in low-calorie products to provide sweetness but with fewer calories.
There are also a number of FDA approved no-calorie sweeteners on the market including: neotame, saccharin, aspartame, acesulfame potassium, and sucralose, which are all chemically based; and two plant/fruit based alternatives: one made from extracts of the leaves of the stevia plant, and one made from extracts of the Swingle fruit, also known as Luo Han Guo or monk fruit.
Ways to Cut Down on Your Sugar
Making a few simple adjustments to your diet can go a long way towards reducing the amount of added sugars in your diet. But you also want to limit the amount of sugar you add at the table, whether it’s table sugar (4 grams of sugar per teaspoon), maple syrup (4 grams per teaspoon), or honey (5.6 grams per teaspoon). Use the following list to cut down on the hidden sugar in your diet:
·      Avoid low-fat “diet” foods, which tend to replace fat with sugar. Instead, have smaller portions of the regular version.
·      Stick to one glass of fruit juice a day (or dilute it) and keep sweet drinks like soft drinks and alcohol for special occasions. Enjoy herbal teas or water with slices of citrus fruit.
·      For a pick me up, have a piece of whole fruit sliced into plain yogurt instead of choosing fruited yogurt.
·      The amount of sugar in most recipes can usually be cut in half without affecting the product. Or try baking with stevia instead.
You don’t need to totally eliminate sugar from your diet, but there is no doubt that much of our food supply is loaded with extra calories that we just don’t need. Stay within your recommended sugar intake and balance it by eating plenty of vegetables, fruits, lean protein, low-fat dairy and whole grains, and get regular physical activity. And if you make a practice of eliminating or limiting processed foods as much as possible you won’t spend as much time staring at food labels and counting sugar grams.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

5 Easy Tips to Lose Weight

Gaining excess weight and realizing the health implications is not always the easiest thing to do. And taking it off may seem like an impossible job and a painful undertaking. But losing weight doesn’t have to be an exercise in denial. All it takes is a few targeted lifestyle changes that you practice consistently until they become habits.

1.     Practice mindfulness

Are you on autopilot and wolf down your food when you eat? Then before you know it, your plate is empty and you aren’t sure what or how much you have eaten?
Learning how to maintain a healthy weight really starts with getting attune with your body. Do you know what you feel like when you are truly in need of food and how you feel when you have had enough to eat? All too often we eat based off of cues, like when we see a television commercial for pizza and then we just have to have it for dinner. Or maybe the cue is a place, like being in the mall where there is a food court, or an activity like the movies with the concession stands.

If you want to lose weight, practice slowing down at meals and being mindful of where you eat, what you eat, and how much you eat. A good trick is to set a timer for 20 minutes and see if you can stretch out your meal until it goes off. It takes the signals in your stomach about 20 minutes to reach your brain to register that you have eaten enough. And while you are at it, leave a few bites on your plate and practice eating until satisfied and not stuffed.

2.     Add, don’t subtract

When it comes to losing weight, adding foods in may sound counterintuitive, but not if you are adding in the right types of foods. Most vegetables and fruits are high in water and fiber and they fill you up without adding in a lot of calories. Try starting your next meal with a bowl of a broth based soup or a nice big salad (watch the dressing) and see if you eat less during the meal. Snap peas and carrots are great crunchy snacks and fresh cherries make a great swap for chocolates.

Deprivation never works, so work on adding in a few more servings of fruits and vegetables to your day. Choose foods that are low in calories but high in nutrients. You’ll be filling your plate with more food but eating less calories. Think of it as more bang for your buck.

3.     Eat at home more

Sure you are tired after a long day of work and picking up dinner by going through the drive through sounds appealing, but cooking doesn’t have to be complicated or take a lot of time. Do some menu planning, grocery shopping, and food prep on the weekends. Have a dinner plan in your mind when you walk in the door after work at home. Not only will you save yourself a lot of calories and unwanted ingredients by avoiding fast food but you will actually burn calories making the meal! A 140-pound woman burns an average of 100 calories when cooking for 30 minutes. Cutting just 100 calories a day for a year results in an average 10 pound weight loss!

4.     Practice using the Plate Method for meal planning

Are your meals balanced? Are you carbohydrate heavy and a little too low in the vegetable department? Or does meat take center stage. One way to control hunger and keep your energy up is to be certain that each of your meals is balanced. Include a portion of lean protein, vegetables and/or fruit, and if you need the calories some complex carbohydrates like brown rice or a sweet potato. Too many people eat meals that are mainly carbohydrates and end up hungry in an hour and reaching for junk food. Think balance and see if you can tweak your meals and snacks so that each one has some lean protein, a fruit or a vegetable, and a small portion of complex carbohydrates.

5.     Size matters

Eating less without feeling deprived is as close as your dinnerware. If you serve less food on a big plate you are left craving more, whereas a smaller plate gives the visual that you have more. It is an optical illusion but one that you can work to your advantage. The same idea applies to bowls, cups, glasses and silverware. Use smaller dishes for all of your meals and snacks, but load them up with nutrient dense low calorie foods.

The majority of overweight Americans have no idea how risky carrying around a few extra pounds is, and how it increases their chances for developing a number of chronic diseases. Losing weight can seem daunting but it doesn’t have to be that way. Think in terms of strategies that you can start practicing as part of your routine and turn them into habits. Everyone deserves to look good and feel great so give these tips a try and see how easy eating healthy can be.