Life on the Sweeter Side

Life on the Sweeter Side - Under the Monkey Bars blog

My sweet tooth is fierce, especially when the clock strikes 3 and 8pm. No matter what I do, it will always be there. I’m not one to deprive myself of a treat though. So I’ve found a way to balance the cravings and still enjoy life on the sweeter side.

Do you crave sugar? Most people do because it’s sooooo addictive. It’s seriously like a drug, hidden in most of the food we eat.

Ever wonder why there’s no daily value percentage next to “sugar” on the nutrition facts of an ingredient label? Fat, cholesterol, sodium, carbohydrate, and fiber all include the daily value percentage on food labels. But sugar does not. Kind of makes you think, right?

Hmmmm. Why doesn’t the government want us to know how much sugar we’re eating? I recently learned that during the low-fat and fat free craze, companies added sugar to improve taste. It seems that big business won and we lost. That’s only one of the reasons food labels don’t make the sugar count more clear. But positive changes are happening!

The latest dietary guidelines have drastically decreased the recommended sugar intake to no more than 10 percent of daily calories. This translates to 12 teaspoons for a 2,000 calorie diet which I still think is too high. The World Health Organization recommends only 6 teaspoons a day.

What are we currently consuming? The average American eats about 22 teaspoons of sugar each day and — you’re not going to believe this — the average child eats 32 teaspoons of sugar daily. Wow! No wonder why our country has a diabetes epidemic.

So, how do can you cut down on sugar and still satisfy your sweet tooth?

  • Skip the soda, bottled juices, and sports drinks. Drink more water! Add a slice of fruit, cucumber, or fresh mint to your water if you don’t like the taste. You’ll get used to it. Water is way better for you and it’s free. Look, you’re even saving money!
  • Stop buying refined, white sugar. Switch to coconut sugar or date sugar in recipes that call for sugar. Better yet, seek new recipes that use raw honey, agave nectar, or pure maple syrup as sweeteners. You won’t find white sugar in any of the recipes here at Under the Monkey Bars.
  • Bake your own goodies. When you make something from scratch, you know exactly what’s in it. It takes extra time, but it’s totally worth it. We usually bake a minimum of 2 treats a week. Start with once a week and work your way up!
  • Buy plain yogurt. Four years ago, we started buying organic whole milk plain yogurt instead of vanilla. It drastically cut the monkeys sugar intake and it was an easy change to make. We add a drop of vanilla and some raw honey to the plain yogurt. Defrosted berries create their own syrup are a great substitution for “fruit on the bottom” type yogurts.
  • Reduce processed foods. Most of us aren’t sprinkling sugar on our food but believe me, you’re eating it! The less food you eat out of a box, the less sugar you’ll consume. 
  • Eat more vegetables. Sprinkle some cinnamon on a sweet potato with blueberries and pumpkin seeds for your afternoon snack instead of a granola bar. It will satisfy your sweet tooth and provide more nutrition for your body.
  • Everything in moderation. I’m not saying don’t eat anything sweet because that’s just crazy. Aim for balance with organic fruits and dates for treats instead of what you usually grab. We all need one indulgence; mine is dark chocolate, which contains way less sugar than other varieties. I usually eat a piece a day and consider it healthy.

Start a healthier life on the sweeter side today. By reading labels and making a few changes, you’ll look and feel healthier. Promise!

P.S. If you haven’t already, watch Fed Up!