The Sugar Debate

Sugar is such a controversial topic not just between fellow dietitians but also within the general public.

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You have the individuals who debate “sugar is sugar, whether it comes from a starchy vegetable or a piece of cake”, the individuals who say “sugar is fine in moderation”, and lastly you have the individuals who refute with “sugar is bad, our bodies need to be in ketosis and we can’t get there if we eat sugar”

Yes, I know these illustrations are pretty dramatic, but I hear these things on a daily basis.  Hopefully after reading my take on added sugars, you’ll have a better understanding of why our diets should not exceed the daily recommendations of added sugars.

What does sugar do to the body?

The obvious answer is that the more sugar you consume, the greater the risk you may develop type II diabetes (or insulin resistance), obesity (primarily an increase in visceral fat), cancer (due to increased inflammation) and elevated triglycerides (which increase the risk of heart attack and stroke).

For general health and wellbeing, in short, added sugar provides simple carbohydrates and calories, but no nutritional benefits. Our bodies do not need added sugars to survive because there is an abundance of plants available that can provide us with complex carbohydrates and fiber we need for metabolism and digestion.

 

What are added sugars?

Essentially, added sugars are syrups or sweeteners that are added to a food item during production or preparation. These do not include the sugars naturally occurring in fruits and dairy products.

Luckily, the American Heart Association (AHA, http://www.heart.org, 2019) has come up with a liberal limit recommendation to help control our sugar consumption. For men, it is recommended that you not exceed 36 grams of added sugar daily (an equivalence of 9 teaspoons). Women, on the other hand, are advised to not exceed 25 grams of added sugar daily (an equivalence to 6 teaspoons).

What are sources of added sugars?

Here is a list of popular added sugars found on the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics website:

  • anhydrous dextrose
  • brown sugar
  • confectioner’s powdered sugar
  • corn syrup
  • corn syrup solids
  • dextrose
  • fructose
  • high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS)
  • honey
  • invert sugar
  • lactose
  • malt syrup
  • maltose
  • maple syrup
  • molasses
  • nectars (e.g., peach nectar, pear nectar)
  • pancake syrup
  • raw sugar
  • sucrose
  • sugar
  • white granulated sugar

 

According to the USDA (Choose MyPlate, 2019), the most popular food items that contain added sugars include (but are not limited to):

  • regular soft drinks, energy drinks, and sports drinks
  • candy
  • cakes
  • cookies
  • pies and cobblers
  • sweet rolls, pastries, and donuts
  • fruit drinks (fruit punch)
  • dairy desserts, such as ice cream

Those items may seem like a no-brainer for you…but what about other items that are “deemed” healthy but contain copious amounts of sugar?

 

Here are some packaged foods that contain hidden sugars:

  • breads
  • pasta/pizza sauces
  • condiments such as BBQ sauce, ketchup, teriyaki sauce, etc
  • granola/granola bars
  • cereal (even the “healthy” cereals)
  • flavored oatmeal
  • flavored yogurt
  • nut/soy milks
  • canned foods
  • frozen foods

I call these “hidden sugars” because oftentimes we associate these food items as being “healthy” and do not check the food label. Yogurt (specifically Greek yogurt) is a great source of protein and I encourage many of my clients to choose this for snacks, however, many of the flavored yogurts are packing 15+ grams of added sugar in one serving…that is over half of the recommendation for both men and women!

Choosing the plain yogurts are a smarter option because you can top with fresh fruit to obtain naturally occurring sugars and plenty of fiber to aid in digestion and help you feel satisfied.

Reading the nutrition label for added sugars:

Luckily, most nutrition labels specifically state “added sugars” underneath carbohydrates on the food label, so it is easy for us to determine whether or not that is a smart option for our bodies.

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As you can see in the protein bar above, there are 15 total grams of sugar, but of those sugars, 0 grams are added sugars…this means that all of the sugar in this protein bar is found naturally within the ingredients.

The Controversy:

The controversy many registered dietitians, health professionals, and health promoters alike run into is “banning” sugar and calling sugar “bad”.  You have some professionals who say to honor your sugar cravings and don’t eliminate foods from you diet…you have other professionals who understand how detrimental sugar is for the body and tell you not to ever eat it…so what is the answer?

In my professional and personal opinion, I think it is clear through research that added sugars should definitely be limited or not consumed at all…however, part of life is enjoying the simple things like cake on your birthday or monthly ice cream dates with your spouse.

Over the past year, I have really focused on choosing more whole, plant based food items, ultimately cutting wayyyy down on my added sugar intake. I am also very strict when buying products and choose items that contain less than 5 grams of added sugars per serving (or none at all). Since I have been more conscious of that, my body feels better, my clothes fit better, and my mind is clearer.

I wish I  could say “eat sugar in moderation”, but the problem with that is my moderation may look different than someone else’s moderation…to me, moderation is special occasions, holidays, anniversaries, once a month, sparingly…but to others, moderation may mean once a day…we do not need to be eating cake and m&m’s every day.

My advice to you is to truly choose to eat plant based, whole foods as your primary source of nutrition and on occasion, it is totally fine to indulge in a cookie or piece of cheesecake. There are plenty of ways to naturally sweeten your food and not feel deprived—>but that is a topic for another day 🙂

 

Until Next Time,

Happy Chewing!
Katrina Detter, RD, LDN

Follow me on social media!

 @livebetterwithkatdetter

 

 

References:
  1. http://www.heart.org. (2019). Sugar 101. [online] Available at: https://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/healthy-eating/eat-smart/sugar/sugar-101 [Accessed 20 May 2019].
  2. Choose MyPlate. (2019). What are added sugars?. [online] Available at: https://www.choosemyplate.gov/what-are-added-sugars [Accessed 20 May 2019].

 

 

ALMOND JOY Granola

It’s been a hot minute since I made homemade granola! Who else loves a good crunch with a yogurt parfait or on-top of a smoothie bowl? This girl does!

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Granola oftentimes gets a bad rap because many store bought ones are high in fat, calories, and sugar. While all of that is true, you can make granola in the luxury of your own home CHEAPER than you can buy it and you can make it more nutrient dense!

In this recipe, I use old fashioned oats (complex carb + soluble fiber), chia seeds (rich in omega 3 fatty acids + fiber), whole almonds (healthy fat + protein), and dark chocolate (antioxidant) as the base. Some other additives: maple syrup (only 2 tablespoons for the whole batch), unsweetened coconut flakes, stevia sweetened chocolate chips, and coconut oil. Find full FREE printable recipe down below!

NOTE: If you like things a little sweeter, feel free to bump up the maple syrup to 1/4 cup instead of 2-3 tablespoons.

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ALMOND JOY Granola

  • Servings: 8 servings
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups old fashioned oats
  • 1 tablespoon chia seeds
  • 1/4 cup whole almonds
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 Tablespoons coconut oil, melted + cooled
  • 1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 2-3 Tablespoons pure maple syrup
  • 2 Tablespoons unsweetened shredded coconut flakes
  • 1/4 cup dark chocolate chips ( I like using stevia sweetened )

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
  2. In a bowl, mix oats, chia seeds, almonds, cocoa powder and salt.
  3. In a separate bowl, mix melted coconut oil, vanilla, and maple syrup.
  4. Combine dry ingredients with wet ingredients and mix well.
  5. Pour mixture on to a parchment paper lined cookie sheet and bake for 30 minutes, stirring granola halfway through.
  6. Add in coconut and chocolate chips and bake for additional 5 minutes.
  7. Allow granola to cool for 15 minutes and store in air tight container up to a week.
  8. Enjoy with some mixed berries + yogurt, on top of a smoothie bowl, with milk, or plain!

 

I hope you all enjoy this quick and easy granola recipe!  Add it to your meal prep for breakfast on the go!

 

Until Next Time,

Happy Chewing!
Katrina Detter, RD, LDN

Registered Dietitian

Follow me on social media!

@livebetterwithkatdetter

#livebetterwithkatdetter

Fish Tacos with Orange Vinaigrette Slaw

It’s  Taco Tuesday, and what better way to celebrate than to have fish tacos!

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Fish tacos are one of my favorite foods to order when at a restaurant, especially at the beach…mainly  because  they are typically made with very fresh ingredients AND fish contains a lot of heart healthy fats.

Today, I am going to share my spin on fish tacos–healthy, light, and satisfying!

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Fish Tacos with Orange Vinaigrette Slaw

  • Servings: 3 servings
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients for Orange Vinaigrette Slaw:

  • 2 cups shredded cabbage
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and shredded
  • 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons of white vinegar
  • juice of 1 whole orange (I used navel orange)
  • 1 teaspoon of honey
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

Directions for Orange Vinaigrette Slaw: 

  1. In a medium mixing bowl, add cabbage and carrots.
  2. In a separate small mixing bowl, whisk together extra virgin olive oil, white vinegar, fresh orange juice, honey, salt & pepper, and garlic powder.
  3. Pour orange vinaigrette over cabbage & carrots.
  4. Incorporate dressing and cabbage & carrots.
  5. Set aside in refrigerator for 10-15 minutes or until serving time.

Ingredients for Fish Tacos:

  • 2 tuna steaks (or fish of choice)
  • 1 tablespoon garlic & herb seasoning
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 6 corn tortillas
  • Orange Vinaigrette Slaw
  • 1 fresh avocado
  • 1/4 cup of black beans, drained and rinsed
  • hot sauce (optional)

Directions for Fish Tacos:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Rub garlic & herb seasoning, salt & pepper on both sides of tuna steak. Place on greased baking sheet. Bake for ~20 minutes at 400 degrees.
  3. Warm corn tortillas in a skillet over the stove or in the microwave.
  4. Once fish is cooked, cut into bite sized chunks.
  5. Assemble tacos: on corn tortilla, add fish, orange vinaigrette slaw, avocado, 2 tablespoons of black beans, and top with hot sauce.
  6. Enjoy with a side of tortilla chips and salsa!

What are your favorite kind of tacos?

 

Until Next Time,

Happy Chewing!
Katrina Detter, RD, LDN

Registered Dietitian Nutritionist

Follow me on social media!
Instagram: @betterwithkatdetter_rd
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