As a youth farm educator, I have a particular interest in weaning children off of unnatural, refined sugars and sweets in order to help stop the growing diabetes epidemic. Perhaps most alarming in this trend is that more than 1 in 3 of Americans are pre-diabetic. What does that mean? It means that we, as a country, have acquired insulin resistance, a condition where the body cannot use insulin properly due to 1) excessive exposure to insulin and 2) blocked cell signals from sugar-coated proteins. When we eat, glucose (sugar) form carbohydrates enters our blood and is transported into the cells by insulin to be used or stored as energy. With insulin resistance, the sugar cannot be used by the cells and remains in the blood causing high blood sugar, and thus overtime, Type 2 Diabetes. Luckily, we can avoid this progression by eating a whole food & nutrient-dense diet, increasing physical activity, and maintaining a healthy weight.
But how can someone limit their sugars when more than 80% of grocery store-bought foods contain added sugar? Products marketed as "healthy", like juice smoothies and protein bars, often times contain more sugar than candy bars and sodas per gram. More on this in an upcoming post. In the meantime, here are some Smart Shopper's Tips to empower you the next time you're at the store:
1.ELIMINATE ADDED SUGARS & SWEETENERS (I.E. HIGH FRUCTOSE CORN SYRUP)
2. AIM FOR <5 G OF SUGAR PER SERVING *BUT BE AWARE OF ARTIFICIAL SWEETENERS
3. SKIP PRODUCTS THAT LIST SUGAR AS ONE OF THE FIRST 3 INGREDIENTS
4. WHEN COOKING, SUBSTITUTE WHITE SUGAR WITH RAW HONEY OR MAPLE SYRUP
5. LIMIT REFINED CARBOHYDRATES AND REPLACE WITH VEGETABLES, WHOLE GRAINS, BROWNE RICE, & LEGUMES