If you’ve been paying any attention at all to health advice in the last decade or so, you’ve likely noticed a dramatic shift from a focus on dietary fat to dietary sugar as the chief culprit in causing poor health.
Unfamiliar? Long story short, that whole story about fat making you fat and leading to heart disease and other dangerous medical conditions was, apparently, hogwash backed by the processed food industry and inadequate science.
On the other hand, sugar (and foods your body processes as sugar) has been shown over and over again to be utterly unhealthy and connected to a whole host of health problems, including obesity.
From the outset of 2017, health experts seem determined to make sure everybody gets this memo. A new book by science writer Gary Taubes paints an excoriating assessment of America’s favorite ingredient in his new book, “The Case Against Sugar.”
If you’re not sure what to believe anymore—since it seems like with each new day, there’s a new way of thinking about what you should eat and what you shouldn’t—Taubes’s thorough report will likely convince you.
Days after the release of Taubes’s warning call, a report by Public Heath England warned that children in England are consuming half their daily sugar allowance at breakfast, pointing to the sugar present in cereals, spreads, and drinks.
Not good. So, what’s a parent to do?
We know when our children are consuming too much sugar and too many processed carbohydrates. It’s all too easy to pour from a box when you’re in a hurry. And who among us isn’t in a hurry these days?
If you’d like to reduce the sugar intake of your family, here are some quick tips.
Minimize the Consumption of Processed Foods
Aim to eat as many whole foods as possible. If it comes in a box, it’s likely not a great choice.
Know the Different Names for Sugar
When reading labels, you’re not just checking for “sugar” but all the other names for sugar found on food labels—some 64 of them, according to Sugar Science (SugarScience.org).
Look out for high fructose corn syrup, maltose, dextrose, sucrose, and more.
Stock Up on Protein and Vegetables
Eggs, meat, other proteins, and vegetables are your best bet. When preparing meals or selecting from a restaurant menu, aim for a plate with mostly protein and vegetables.
Spice It Up
Wherever possible, try to replace extra sugar with flavorful ingredients, like unsweetened spices, sauces, or extracts.
Institute a Weekly Food Prep Day
Consuming fewer processed foods means more cooking and food prep. To make this as efficient as possible, set aside a day or an evening for weekly food prep in which you chop, cook, and prepare healthy meals for the week in advance so it will be easy to get on the table in a hurry, or to eat on the go when needed.
Find Fun Replacements
Take the opportunity to introduce new foods into the rotation at home. Almond meal makes for a delicious coating in place of breadcrumbs, for example.
Clean Out the Pantry
Remove the sugary foods from your kitchen. Nobody can eat what’s not there.
Treat It as an Addiction
The addictive qualities of sugar have been well documented. You (and your family members) may experience symptoms of withdrawal when reducing or eliminating sugar from your diet. Be ready for some temporary discomfort and serious cravings.