National Nutrition Month®
Throughout this month, we will be focusing on the importance of good nutrition as part of a healthy lifestyle. This involves consuming the right amount of calories, being knowledgeable about what you are eating, and making sure you are getting the proper nutrients your body needs!
As we approach Easter, which is often filled with baskets of sweets, we thought we’d discuss sugar reduction to finish off our nutrition series for the month of March.
Sugar is used by the body for energy, but too much of it may also be linked to negative health effects such as diabetes, heart disease, or obesity.1 This doesn’t mean you have to avoid sugars altogether, but it does help to be more aware about how much you are eating.
Here are some tips for reducing your sugar intake:
- Look for “unsweetened” versions of foods like applesauce, nut butters, and canned fruits
- Try using fresh pureed fruit in place of traditional jam
- Try making sauces, condiments, and dressings from scratch so you can reduce the amount of sugars or use alternate ingredients
- Add other “sweet” spices for more flavor, in place of plain sugar. Spices like vanilla, cocoa powder, cinnamon, and nutmeg can be great in things like oatmeal or a latte.
- Eat more fruit!
Many fruits are naturally sweet and can be a great replacement for a sugary dessert.
You can also add fruits to recipes, like salads, cereal, or baked goods to help sweeten them.
Look for whole fruits and 100% fruit juice for added benefits.
Try snacking on dried fruits instead of candy.
- Don’t drink it! Many beverages such as soda, sports drinks, and energy drinks contain high amounts of sugars and other sweeteners. By replacing these types of drinks with water or 100% juice, you can cut a lot of sugar out of your diet.
- Serve desserts in smaller portions or enjoy them on a less frequent basis
Even with these ideas in mind, you can still have a “sweet” Easter celebration. Try looking for alternate treat ideas or make your own treats!
Here are some ideas to get you started:
- Chocolate-covered fruit
- Dark Chocolate (70% or more) – dark chocolate is lower in sugar and can actually have some health benefits and nutrients, such as antioxidants. Learn more at: http://greatist.com/health/chocolate-actually-healthy
- Make homemade peanut butter eggs by freezing peanut butter, shaping it into an egg shape, and dipping it in melted chocolate, then re-freezing. You can also try a recipe like this one: http://chocolatecoveredkatie.com/2012/03/29/copycat-recipe-reeses-peanut-butter-eggs
- Fill plastic eggs with homemade trail mix made with dried fruit and nuts. You can also fill eggs with non-food items like fun stickers or toys, or objects that help tell the true story of Easter.
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