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Kick the Sugar Habit

The Genesis PURE “Kick the Sugar Habit” contest is now underway! Sugar habits can surface in many ways and for a variety of reasons. Joey works construction and relies on his 44 oz. soda, one in the morning and one in the afternoon, to get through his day. In the morning, Jackie is usually in a rush; so breakfast, a frappuccino and scone, are bought at the drive-through on the way to work. When work gets stressful, Monica finds herself raiding the front desk candy jar for a sweet treat. Jerry can think of no better way to unwind in the evenings than sitting and watching his favorite TV shows with a bowl of ice cream. No matter your sugar consuming habits, our challenge to you is to be vigilant this Holiday Season about when and why you consume sugar and eliminate any habits that may be contributing to an unhealthy sugar intake.

As Joey clearly demonstrated, soda is the number one contributor of added sugar in the American diet, accounting for nearly one-third of the calories consumed. There no vitamins, minerals, or fiber in most sodas; so these empty calories – more than 1000 if them in Joey’s two 44 oz. drinks – contribute to the already excessive calorie intake of most Americans, and potentially replace other more wholesome foods. If you are like Joey and rely on soda as a source of energy throughout the day, consider replacing it with fruit, whole grains, nuts, or other nutrient-dense sources of calories. Plain yogurt and granola with a banana for breakfast and a rice bowl with chicken and fresh vegetables for lunch would provide just as many calories, but with added protein, healthy fats, fiber, vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients, as well.

Processed and fast foods are often a crutch of the busy professional and/or parent. Don’t fall into Jackie’s trap and make shopping and meal planning a priority in your life. It may take a bit of time to develop a list of easy and wholesome recipes. Once you do, however, a one-hour shopping trip each week can keep your pantry stocked with the essentials, and meal prep can be quick and easy. Chopped vegies with a peanut butter and honey sandwich can be prepared in five minutes and a bowl of low-sugar, whole-grain cereal takes no more than 1 minute to pour…maybe add thirty seconds for some sliced bananas or peeling a hard-boiled egg. The website eatingwell.com specializes in healthy recipes and even has a free cookbook dedicated to ultra-quick recipes for every meal.

When Monica reaches for a sugary treat to cope with stress at work, she may actually using sugar as a way to self-medicate. Cravings for sugar are a hard-wired response to chronic stress. Numerous scientific studies have documented that stressful situations trigger increased consumption of sugary beverages and sweets. These urges and cues may be independent of actual need for food and could lead to excessive calorie intake and eventually obesity. Perhaps one possible solution for Monica to explore is to proactively manage her stress. A ten minute meditation or walking break, while it may decrease the amount of time she spends at her desk, may do wonders for reducing stress and her cravings for treats. Limiting access to treats may be another helpful solution.

Jerry may possibly be victim of another brain-mediated driver of sugar consumption, pleasure. When sugar is consumed, it increases levels of dopamine and opiates in the brain and, over time, can create hard-wired cravings for sweets. When Jerry relaxes with his bowl of ice cream in the evening, he’s stimulating these pleasure centers of the brain. Jerry consumed enough calories at dinner and yet his body is still telling him to eat, not because of hunger but because of pleasure. Due to the hard-wired cravings, it may take significant time and work before Jerry will be rid of his desire for an evening bowl of ice cream. Exercising in place of watching TV in the evening may be a good alternative. Exercise produces endorphins, a type of opiate that may create similar feelings of pleasure without the extra calories.

The American Heart Association recommends limiting intake of added sugar to no more than 100 calories daily for women and 150 calories daily for men. According to USDA data, the average American is estimated to consume approximately 350 calories of added sugar daily. This is an improvement over the more than 420 calories consumed daily in 1999, but we can do better. Be attentive to how you and your family are eating sugar. Work to reduce the amount you consume, if needed. When you do eat sugar, use it primarily to improve the flavor of nutrient-dense foods like vegetables, nuts, and whole grains rather than eating candy, cakes, or other sugar-laden, yet nutrient-deficient foods.

By Ron Beckstrom, MS, RD, HFS
Genesis PURE Product and Research Specialist



This blog and its contents are provided for nutrition information purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. The information and topics may not apply to every individual and sometimes are based on alternative healthy philosophies rather than traditional scientific views. Always seek the advice of a qualified health provider with any health or nutrition concerns you may have. The information in this article is not intended to promote any specific product, or for the prevention or treatment of any disease and should not be a substitution any medical needs or advice.
 

Healthy Treats for Halloween

Growing up, I loved trick-or-treating. As an adult, I still love trick-or-treating with my daughter. Breathing in the crisp fall air and feeling the leaves crunch under my shoes as I tromp down the street with my little princess – literally – always brings back the excitement I experienced in pursuit of the perfect Halloween haul. As a kid, time was precious, only a few short hours to knock as many doors as possible and fill up our pillow cases. And then, without fail, each year, there was always that one house that gave raisins, or an apple, or any number of other sham treats. An odious time waster, delaying us from our search for the house that gives king-size candy bars.

As an adult, I appreciate the motivations behind these well-meaning neighbors. Due to the risk of obesity, chronic disease, dental disease, and displacement of vital nutrients in the diet, the World Health Organization earlier this year proposed a new recommendation that added sugar should be no more than 5% of an individual’s daily calories. This means younger elementary-school-aged children should limit their added sugar to no more than 15g, while older elementary-school-aged children may be able to consume as much as 30g each day, bearing in mind all forms of sugar count. One fun-sized snickers contains 17g added sugar, more sugar than a young child should consume in the entire day! Wouldn’t it be commendable then to curb the sugar binging and offer a healthy treat to the neighborhood children this year? I couldn’t agree more, provided you actually give a “treat.”

The Oxford Dictionary defines treat as, “an event or item that is out of the ordinary and gives great pleasure.” I would argue that raisins, for most children, are not a treat. At school, it was common to open the lunch my mother packed and find the little red box featuring the Sun Maid. I can’t recall it ever once bringing me great pleasure. In fact, attempts by neighbors to pass those desiccated atrocities off as treats elicited the opposite emotion – feelings of resentment that tainted my opinion of raisins for years after. I sometimes think these negative associations may have been responsible for my dislike of the California Raisins TV show and my dislike of Raisin Bran® throughout my teenage years. I am happy to report, however, that I have healed and now enjoy eating raisins, despite these traumatic experiences of my youth.

This year, as you contemplate what to give out for Halloween, consider looking for a healthy treat. Find something that doesn’t contribute to the already excessive sugar consumption that is gripping our children. But, still make it a treat. Consider giving puzzle games, magic tricks, sticky hands, glow sticks, or any number of other trinkets that can be purchased through the Oriental Trading Company. Remember that events are included in the definition of treat. A spook alley in your back yard, Halloween carnival with fun games, or free entrance passes to local attractions may all be suitable substitutes for candy. Food items aren’t completely taboo. Nuts can be a great treat for kids and many are made with few added sugars. Cocoa (not chocolate) coated almonds with little added sugar, lightly candied walnuts, marcona almonds, or pistachios are all great options. Veggie crisps and fruit leather may also be appealing to some. As with raisins, however, they may come with some resentment. Consider having a few options so children can choose the treats that most appeal to them. No matter what you choose to offer this year for Halloween, above all, remember to make it a treat.

By Ron Beckstrom, MS, RD, HFS
Nutrition Specialist

This blog and its contents are provided for nutrition information purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. The information and topics may not apply to every individual. Always seek the advice of a qualified health provider with any health or nutrition concerns you may have. The information in this article is not intended to promote any specific product, or for the prevention or treatment of any disease.
 

PUREtrail Mix, a Tasty Treat!

Looking for fun, creative ways to use your PUREtrail Mix?   Check out our new PUREtrail Mix document available on our recipes page.

 

 

 

Add Flavor to Your Recipes with Essential Oils

Essential oils can make a great addition to many recipes. A very small amount of oil is all it takes to enhance the aroma and flavor of a variety of dishes. While you may be able to find many recipes that incorporate essential oils, the following tips can be used to modify your favorites or create some of your own. 

Be cautious when selecting essential oils to use in your recipes. While many essential oils are generally recognized as safe by the FDA and frequently used by food manufacturers, others may be toxic if ingested. Always follow the recommendations from your essential oil manufacturer, and only use ones intended for human consumption in your recipes. Also, essential oils may be contaminated by pesticides, so always look for organic essential oils, which are extracted from crops where pesticides are not used.

  • Start with one drop essential oil. Remember, essential oils are potent. Too much essential oil can ruin a recipe. Where possible, add the oil at the end, so you can gradually increase the amount of essential oil, according to taste.
  • Heat and time will diminish oil efficacy. Another benefit of adding essential oils just before serving is that heat and time will cause the oil to vaporize from your food. Another name for essential oil is volatile oil. The name is very appropriate, as oils will begin to vaporize even at room temperature. Adding a little heat will cause them to vaporize at a faster rate and may even distort the beneficial properties of the oil. Using lids on cookware may slow the vaporization process slightly; however, it does nothing to maintain the oils beneficial properties.
  • A little heat may be desirable for some recipes, however. Vaporization not only diminishes the potency of the oil, but it also subtly changes the flavor and aroma of the oil. When heated, the lighter fragrances of the oil vaporize first, leaving the deeper, richer parts of the oil. Strong oils such as basil, coriander, oregano, rosemary, and sage may taste and smell better when simmered over low heat to make the flavor more subtle.
  • Add the oil to a liquid. Essential oils are best when added to sauces, dressings, marinades, or other liquids. When added to a liquid, the oil disburses throughout the entire liquid. Applying oils directly to non-liquid ingredients will cause uneven disbursement of the oil, with some parts of the dish being more flavorful than others. Adding the essential oil to a cooking oil before mixing it into your recipe can be a good way to ensure a consistent flavor throughout the dish.
  • Many spices can be replaced by essential oils. While the amount of oil required to substitute spices in a recipe will vary depending on the oil used and the recipe, there are some general rules of thumb that can get you started. One teaspoon dried herb can typically be replaced by one drop of essential oil. 1 tablespoon citrus zest may be substituted for 1/8 teaspoon (about 8 drops) of essential oil.


The uses for essential oil in cooking are limitless. Get creative! Try adding a hint of lavender to melted chocolate then dip strawberries; a few drops of citrus oil may enhance chilled drinks; try a little peppermint in your cocoa or tea; dip a toothpick into clove oil and mix it into peach jam; a drop of cinnamon oil in oatmeal can be a great way to start your day. Give your foods the flavor and aroma you crave by preparing them with essential oils.

By Ron Beckstrom, MS, RD, HFS
Nutrition Specialist

 

This blog and its contents are provided for nutrition information purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. The information and topics may not apply to every individual. Always seek the advice of a qualified health provider with any health or nutrition concerns you may have. The information in this article is not intended to promote any specific product, or for the prevention or treatment of any disease.

 

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