Welcome to Week 2 of the 5 Week Body Transformation Challenge! This week we’re talking about reducing your daily sugar intake and eating more vegetables.
Why Should You Reduce Your Daily Sugar Intake?
Sugar consumption is on the rise, and some even say that it is addictive. Studies show that too much added sugar consumption can lead to fatigue, lower energy levels, belly bloat, acne, weight gain, higher blood pressure and/or cholesterol levels, and a higher risk for cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Yipes! There is something we can do about it. We can work to limit our added sugar consumption. Added sugars are those that have been added to food during preparation, processing, or the meal at the table.
The American Heart Association (AHA) advises that women should consume no more than 6 teaspoons of added sugar a day (about 100 calories or 25 grams), and men should consume no more than 9 teaspoons of added sugar a day (about 150 calories or 36 grams). So, it is feasible to have some sugar in your diet, but within reason.
Ways to Reduce Your Daily Sugar Intake.
This week, you’ll have an opportunity to remove added sugar from your diet. Keep it simple and not overly restrictive. By doing so, you’ll be more likely to sustain the change going forward.
Choose what you keep or remove from your diet and stick to the AHA guidelines mentioned above. To do so, you’ll have to read nutrition labels, which is a good thing because it helps to build awareness about what you’re eating. Here’s a list of foods to consider removing from your diet:
You’ll see that processed foods and snacks are on the list. Sugar is hidden in many processed foods (e.g., sauces, condiments). I encourage you to analyze which processed foods you’re consuming and consider cooking these foods for yourself and eating whole foods during the remainder of the 5 Week Body Transformation Challenge. For tips on how to cook more at home, click here.
As I prepared for the 5 Week Body Transformation Challenge, I had to take an honest assessment of what I’d been eating for meals and snacks. Some added sugars were obvious (e.g., processed snacks, candy, and desserts). Other foods required some research and I had to determine if they contain added sugar. For example, I found out that my favorite brand of coconut water does not contain added sugar. Whew–coconut water is safe! But my coffee creamer, yogurt, and favorite dried fruit do contain added sugars. So…bye-bye! Those items went on my list of foods to cut.
Meal planning is also an effective way to reduce your daily sugar intake. The easiest way for me to plan meals is to do it meal by meal. In other words, I plan breakfast for the week, move on to mid-morning snacks for the week, then lunches, etc. After planning the week, I look at each day to see if it makes sense. This process may work for you or it might not. In addition, my family doesn’t mind eating leftovers (as long as the meal is tasty 😉) so I took full advantage of that when planning out the meals. Also, I tried to minimize my time in the kitchen on my busiest days. As an example, I plan to eat overnight oats (breakfast) and leftovers (dinner) on my busiest days.
What are Low Sugar Foods?
Sugar does occur naturally in food versus being added to food. Examples of food with naturally occurring sugars include fruit and milk. These are foods with lower sugar. Other low sugar foods include whole grains, nuts, legumes, and vegetables without starch. Here’s a great list of foods low in sugar.
Regarding fruit, it is possible to overindulge in fruit but you’d have to eat a lot of it. Yes, you would still get the benefits of the vitamins, minerals, and fiber from the fruit. However, I suggest practicing moderation when eating fruit. You should balance your diet with a focus on nutrients and portion sizes. If you want to learn more about creating a balanced diet, check out this Healthy Eating Planner.
Now that we’ve talked about reducing our daily sugar intake by eating less added sugar, let’s talk about eating more vegetables. But first…
Why Eating Vegetables Is Important.
Vegetables are filled with minerals, vitamins, and antioxidants, and your body needs these nutrients to function properly. Also, eating vegetables may reduce your risk of stroke, cancer, heart disease and type 2 diabetes. Here are other benefits of eating vegetables:
- Most vegetables are low in fat and calories and none have cholesterol
- Diets rich in potassium may help to maintain healthy blood pressure.
- Fiber-containing foods such as vegetables help provide a feeling of fullness with fewer calories.
Separately, what you eat can help you look younger too. Those minerals, vitamins, and antioxidants will help firm your skin, smooth fine lines and reduce wrinkles. Vegetables such as tomatoes, kale, eggplant, red bell pepper, basil, and brussels sprouts are your best bets to reverse the signs of aging. Next time you go to the grocery store, be sure to stock up!
How to Eat More Vegetables.
You can be intentional about eating vegetables by planning your meals and snacks for the week. For your snacks, slice your vegetables in advance so you’ll have them ready to go when you want them. If you don’t, you’ll be very tempted to grab an easier (and possibly added sugar) alternative. Another way to eat more vegetables is to add them to your smoothies. This is a great way to eat vegetables that may be difficult to devour in their normal state (kale anyone?). Literally grinding up that kale in a smoothie eliminates the unusual texture, but leaves you with the nutritional benefits.
Now that you have your actions for this week, take some time to plan what you’re going to do. Then, go forth and make it a wonderful and transformative week!
By the way, if you haven’t committed to the 5 Week Body Transformation Challenge yet, you still can! Grab your 5 Week Body Transformation Action Plan here. Think about your goal and write it at the top of the Action Plan, and sign the form at the bottom. Check back here on the blog because I’ll add a post each week about the “Tweak of the Week”, how the change can benefit your body, and give you extra motivation.
Have a great week!
Mrs. Traylor is a Fitness Instructor, NASM Certified Personal Trainer & Nutrition Coach, AFPA Certified Prenatal and Postnatal Fitness Specialist, wife, and momma who provides actionable advice for positive lifestyle changes with fitness, nutrition, and wellness. Read about Wendy’s inspiring entrepreneurial journey, and subscribe to Wendy’s newsletter here!