Sunday, January 3, 2016

2016 No Added Sugar Challenge (January 4 - March 4)

Last January, K and I committed to reducing the sugar in our diets through a 31 day challenge. We started drinking healthy green smoothies almost daily, and avoided all foods with added sugars - including desserts, processed snacks, granola for breakfast, etc. It was a great way to re-set after the holidays, so we decided to do the same thing this year but extend the challenge to two months. Consider joining us on this year's No Added Sugar Challenge, from January 4 to March 4!

What is added sugar? It's any sugar or sugar product {such as high fructose corn syrup} that is not naturally occurring in a food. The American Heart Association defines added sugars as "sugars and syrups put in foods during preparation or processing, or added at the table." {source} Sugars are found naturally in fruit and milk products.

There is added sugar in countless foods, and many reasons why you should do your best to avoid it. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that no more than 5% of your daily food intake come from added sugar. For women, the maximum amount is 6 teaspoons. For men, it's 7.5 teaspoons. To compare this to a snack example, the average can of soda includes over 10 teaspoons of sugar {source}.

The 2016 challenge for K and I will again involve lots of healthy green smoothies and a commitment to avoid added sugars as much as possible. To me, avoiding "added sugars" in my daily diet means not eating desserts, baked goods, white bread, granola bars, processed crackers, processed coffee creamer, cereal, soda, etc. We are still planning to eat fruit in moderation, including dates and dried fruit without sugar added in processing. We will avoid foods with maple syrup and honey as much as possible.

To get started, here are a few healthy snack and smoothie recipes with no added sugar:

I recommend watching two documentaries to learn more about sugar and the food industry - Fed Up (2014) and Hungry for Change (2012). In addition, here are links to five articles for more information on avoiding added sugars:

1) The truth about sugar (BBC good food)

2) How to spot - and avoid - added sugar (Harvard Health Letter; Harvard Health Publications)

3) Our Year of No Sugar: One Family's Grand Adventure (everyday health)

4) There's a Mental Health Reason to Avoid Added Sugar (Huffington Post)

5) No added sugar: How to quit the sweet stuff for a healthy New Year (Express UK)

I'll plan to post regular updates on the No Added Sugar Challenge with recipe ideas. If you would like to join the challenge, please comment below!

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  1. A friend and I just started a no added sugar challenge for the month of January. I'm really looking forward to seeing some ideas for snacks and food!

    1. Awesome, good for you! Look for a new snack roundup soon :)