Cakes, cookies, candy, soda, ice cream. Sounds like a delicious lineup for a party with your friends, right? Careful, these treats all have one potentially dangerous thing in common: lots of SUGAR!
Sugar provides the energy we need to live, breathe, sleep and, of course, march. But if you consume too many of these sweet treats, chances are you’re also getting too much sugar in your diet.
When your body has more sugar than it needs for energy, it begins to convert the sugar into fat and stores it. So if you don’t get enough exercise and keep on eating lots of sugar, your body will grow bigger and bigger.
Good vs. Evil
As with most foods, not all sugars are bad. In fact, many “good” sugars occur naturally in foods and also supply key nutrients:
• Low-fat milk (skim milk, soymilk, 1% low-fat milk)
• Fresh and frozen fruits (apples, blueberries, oranges, pineapples, strawberries, bananas)
• Most vegetables (carrots, spinach, tomatoes, zucchini, broccoli, cucumbers, etc.)
“Bad” sugar appears in the form of added sugars. These are sugars and syrups that are added to foods and beverages during processing or preparation. The 2005 “Dietary Guidelines for Americans” recommends no more than eight teaspoons of added sugar per day (that’s 32 grams), and if you start looking, you’ll find them nearly everywhere—in soft drinks, cookies, candy and products made from corn syrup.
Luckily, it’s easier to eat healthy than you may think.
Most people think “healthy snacks” and what comes to mind? Words like “tasteless” and “boring” and “fruit.” But there’s more creativity and variety in healthy snacking than meets the eye.
… And more color! Take those veggies and arrange them on a big platter or pop them in a Ziploc baggie—baby carrots, sugar snap peas, broccoli, celery, cherry tomatoes, yellow peppers—and if you want a container of dip, whip up a mix of cottage cheese and Ranch dressing in the blender.
For another healthy “on-the-go” snack, grab some soy nuts (unsalted) and mix them with raisins, chopped dates, walnuts, almonds or any of your favorite dried fruits. Munch on some Granny Smith apples or Graham crackers with cheese or peanut butter.
Fruits come in so many varieties; you could eat an apple a day for 10 days and not eat the same kind twice! There are plenty of options out there for healthy snacking, so go for it!