MAHASKA COUNTY – High amounts of added sugar in our diets have been linked to cavities, obesity, Type 2 diabetes and heart disease, to name a few. Mahaska Health Partnership’s Registered Dietitian Lea Rice offers some advice on lowering the amount of sugar your family ingests.
“Added sugar hides in many different forms in our food,” Rice explained. “It’s easy to avoid obvious sources such as baked goods and soda, but it may be harder to spot the hidden sugars found in other foods where you may not expect it.”
According to Rice, added sugars are used to sweeten foods but offer no nutritional value. “Sugars may appear under many names on food labels,” Rice said. “In fact, there are more than 50 different names for these sweeteners. While they are used to add flavor, they also add calories and should be limited in your diet.”
Dietary Guidelines recommend limiting added sugars to 10 percent or less of your daily diet. For adults on a 2,000 calorie diet, that means about 12 teaspoons or 48 grams of sugar per day, and less for smaller children.
“Rather than worrying about how many teaspoons or grams of sugar you are consuming each day, focus instead on limiting foods that contain added sugars,” Rice advised. “Check labels for added sweeteners and opt for healthier options. Look for naturally sweet items instead, like fruits and vegetables or carrots, bell peppers and snap peas.
“Try to stick to water and milk rather than their sweeter substitutes,” Rice continued. “Many other drinks have caffeine, added sugar or sweeteners and dyes, things that children especially do not need. By cutting back on beverages like soda, juice and energy drinks, you can greatly reduce the amount of sugar in your diet.”
Another common source of added sugar is flavored yogurt. “An easy way to cut the amount of sugar in your yogurt is mixing half a serving of flavored with half a serving of plain yogurt,” Rice suggested. “The same concept works for cereals. As your tastes adjust to less sweet flavors, you can continue to cut back on the sweeter versions of your favorite snacks.”
When it comes to reducing your family’s sugar intake, making small adjustments can have a big impact. “Instead of focusing on having a completely sugar-free diet, encourage your family to enjoy naturally sweet options instead,” Rice urged. “Cook from scratch and try new fruits and vegetables. Expand your regular go-to recipes to include fresh tastes. By starting now, you can encourage your children to make healthier choices throughout their lives.”
Registered Dietitian Lea Rice provides inpatient and outpatient nutrition education, helping patients understand how their diet affects their overall health and well-being; including counseling patients with chronic health conditions. She is very involved in the community and enjoys sharing evidence-based nutrition information. To schedule an appointment with Lea Rice, call 641.672.3303.
Mahaska Health Partnership, located in Oskaloosa, is a non-profit health system accredited by the Joint Commission. It is guided by its mission to provide exceptional customer service and health improvement, linking the science of medicine with the humanity of compassionate care. For more information about how Mahaska Health Partnership is making healthcare personal, visit mahaskahealth.org.
Story provided by Cassidy Riley