Week 1: Goal Setting & Sugar

Q. What are artificial sweeteners and why are they bad?
A.  Artificial sweeteners are sugar substitutes (usually synthetic) like aspartame, acesulfame potassium and sucralose.  Some familiar brands include Equal, Nutrasweet, Sweet One, Sweet N’ Low and Splenda. There is a positive correlation between the use of artificial sweetener use and weight gain. They can negatively affect blood glucose levels, hormones and promote cravings for more sugar. Stevia, a natural plant-based sweetener is a healthy alternative.

Q. How much sugar should I eat?
A. The World Health Organization recommends a range of 25 – 40 grams of added sugar per day.  In Healthy Living, we recommend the lower end of the range (25 grams per day) because this is where “additional” health benefits kick in.  This is separate from naturally occurring sugars in fruits and dairy products.

Q. How do I manage my sweet tooth?
A. Often times a “sweet tooth” may be our body’s way of telling us that we have dysfunction with our metabolism, or gaps in our current diet and lifestyle habits. Here are a few common examples:

  • Lack of protein
  • Unbalanced meals
  • Unmanaged blood sugar levels
  • Lack of quantity and/or quality sleep
  • Unmanaged stress or too much perceived stress

Q. Doesn’t fruit have sugar?
A. Yes, natural sugar, called fructose. Knowing this we still want to limit our intake of natural sugars because they, too, impact our blood sugar levels, our liver, and our triglycerides. Aim to limit fruits to 2 servings per day, or a ratio of 1 serving of fruit to every 3 servings of non-starchy vegetables (1 serving = ½ banana, ½ apple, ½ cup berries). Berries are best because they are low in sugar, higher in fiber and high in antioxidants.