Sweetener Swap and Sugar Rules: Can We De-Sugar Our Holidays?
It is our sweetest season and most exciting time of the year. Halloween ushers in the parties, treats, desserts and of course sugar. We all enjoy the festivities of the season, but watching and counting the sugar grams prevents excess holiday pounds and helps fight off winter colds. Knowing our new-found fear of sugar, many sugar substitutes and “natural” sugars are crowding the market place leaving us all a bit confused. Before you swap your sweeteners, here is what you need to know this holiday season.
Rule 1: Create a sugar budget
As the holidays approach, plan a sugar “budget” for yourself or your kids. Try to stay under six teaspoons of sugar per day, the amount of sugar in a glass of juice or half a can of coke. Consider limiting sugar to one day per week, a “treat” day to resist temptation. With children, it is fun to make this a game. Give them seven sugar “dollars” per week, allowing them to decide when and how to spend. When they are out of them, no more sugar for the week!
Rule 2: Avoid all sugar syrups
High fructose corn syrup, corn syrup, brown rice syrup, and cane syrup are all sugar syrups in different guises. The most notorious, high fructose corn syrup, has been implicated in the obesity crisis and has been shown in research to change appetite, behavior and cravings for additional fatty and high sugar foods. (1) High fructose corn syrup or HFCS has gotten a lot of appropriately-deserved bad press.
Its cousins, however, rice syrup and brown rice syrup, are not much better. These sugar syrups have a high glycemic index, very low antioxidant concentration and still have to be manufactured and processed so are hardly “natural.”