Friday, December 12, 2014

Sugar Free and Care Free

About a week ago Lindsey told me she'd like to go on a sugar free diet, and asked me to join her.

What 11-year-old asks this? One who overheard me quoting an article (with infographic) about how much sugar Americans eat, around 130 pounds per year. In the Forbes article they stated that The American Heart Association recommends no more than 9.5 teaspoons per day. The average American adult eats 22 teaspoons per day; more disconcerting is that the average American child eats 32 teaspoons per day!  Think about the affect of those 32 teaspoons on little bodies and brains that are a fraction of the size of adults, and you start to understand where our country is heading healthwise, and why ADHD diagnoses are on the rise.

I digress.

As long as Lindsey was not asking out of some misguided idea that she needs to lose weight, I was all for it.

So....what does it mean, to not eat sugar? I mean, sure, I've got a sweet tooth, but a sugar-free diet has to mean more than just skipping dessert, right?

Boy did I get an education.

I learned that you can be as strict or as liberal on a sugar-free diet as you wish. It is naturally occurring in fruits and some vegetables, some dairy and in all leavened breads in some shape or form. The resources I read said to cut out white foods because the point is to cut out foods with a high glycemic index, so no white potatoes, no pasta (unless it's wheat pasta), no white breads, etc.

Oh boy. This is my pasta-loving, white bread sandwich-eating kid. Hmmm....

We made a list of the foods we couldn't eat and those we could, and headed out to the grocery store, where the practical application of our education began.

It took us two hours to get $100 worth of groceries because we spent so much time reading labels. First Lindsey began by looking for sugar in the list of nutrients, but then we realized that naturally occurring sugars are listed there, too. So we started looking for sugar and its relatives in the ingredients list.

Sugar is in EVERYTHING. Holy cow.

All yogurts contained sugar. Ironically the ones that were marketed to kids contained more sugar than the regular yogurts. Now I understand where that 32 teaspoons per day comes in.

We read bread labels until we found a whole wheat one that had an acceptable amount of sugar in it.

We read cracker labels until we found a few with no sugar. (They are quite yummy, too.)

We bought whole wheat pasta and bread.

The cereal aisle proved to be the most daunting. We knew the obvious ones -- we could spot them from a mile away.
19g of sugar per serving. Excludes the milk.
But the healthy ones? All had sugar. The only two we found that met our guidelines were Grape Nuts and Nabisco Shredded Wheat. Luckily Lindsey eats and likes both of those.

Most surprising was when we decided to make tacos one night and were looking through the ingredient list for taco seasoning. We usually buy Ortega taco seasoning, but just to make sure, I read the label.


I start picking out other brands. The only one we found that did not have sugar in it was Old El Paso.

While we were doing this picky sugar-free shopping, the store was packed with ingredients to make baked goods for the holidays. We even picked up chocolate chips because Wayne asked me to make a batch of cookies for him to take in to work the next day. (Which I did and totally did NOT snitch any of the batter OR eat a cookie!)

After reading so many labels to try to avoid sugar, the sight of a pallet of sugar was almost disgusting to us.

And so our journey began. Lindsey asked to do this for two weeks, because she doesn't want to miss out on coffee cake on Christmas morning. I couldn't agree more.

We're nearly a week in. Check back soon for an update on how we're doing after a week of sugar free eating.

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