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Talk about sugar shock: We’re eating way too much of the sweet stuff, with the average American consuming approximately 22 teaspoons of added sugar per day from sugary beverages, cookies, cakes, candies — even condiments like ketchup and salad dressings. To make matters worse, processed foods you wouldn’t even expect to have sugar can contain high amounts as well.
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The American Heart Association recommends 6 teaspoons per day for women and 9 for men. And the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee, the group that makes recommendations for the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, recently suggested capping added sugar at 12 teaspoons a day for both adult men and women.
While consuming moderate amounts of added sugar is fine, excessive amounts can cause not-so-sweet side effects like weight gain and mood swings. That being said, we're doing a little experiment: TODAY is officially kicking the sweet stuff for 10 days — and we’d love everyone to join in.
The idea is to go “cold turkey” during the 10-day challenge, removing all sources of added sugar, as well as zero-calorie sweeteners and sugar substitutes, to help reprogram your brain to feel satisfied with less.
Keep in mind, we’re talking about added sugars, not naturally-occurring sugars, like the sugar called “lactose” in plain yogurt or the sugar called “fructose” in fresh fruit or the small amounts of sugar found in sweet vegetables like carrots and beets.
Naturally occurring sugars come packaged with countless beneficial ingredients, like vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. So, these are not off the menu, nor should you avoid them.
In response to the TODAY challenge, The Sugar Association said in a statement: "The targeting of all-natural sugar is an oversimplified approach to the complex problem of obesity that is simply not backed by sound science." Read the full statement from The Sugar Association here
Know that it will be a challenge
The first 48 hours will be rough. You’ll likely feel irritable and hungry.
But after you figure out what you can eat and substitute for your sweet treat favorites, you’ll be fine. And in fact, my prediction is you’ll start having more energy, feel empowered and really appreciate the taste of un-doctored wholesome food.
Cutting out added sugars can help crush sugar cravings and reprogram your brain to enjoy foods that are less sweet. By day three, your taste buds will be delighted by the sweetness of an apple. Trust me.
Modify it to make it work for you and your family’s lifestyle. If you slip up, forgive yourself and jump right back on track.
After this period of time, we can all go back to our regular diets. The hope is, we’ll be more educated, selective and empowered in our eating choices.
Learn how it works
For 10 days, you’ll avoid all forms of added sugar — real and artificial.
Even though the artificial sweeteners like Splenda, Equal and Sweet’N Low and other zero-calorie sugar substitutes like Stevia and Monkfruit don’t add any calories, they DO saturate your taste buds with “sweet,” and we want to get rid of that.
This 10-day Sugar Detox will be the ultimate reality check. It’s a learning experience to open our eyes to just how much sugar we are all consuming.
Read through the following list and memorize the foods that are — and are not — allowed on this plan.
Then, let the #NoSugarTODAY games begin.
Foods to Avoid
- Added sugar in any form: sugar, agave, honey, maple syrup, coconut sugar, evaporated cane juice, brown rice syrup, high fructose corn syrup, corn syrup, glucose, fructose, molasses.
- Artificial sweetener in any form: sucralose/Splenda, aspartame/Equal, saccharin/Sweet-n-low
- Natural non-caloric sweeteners like Stevia, PurVia, Truvia and Monkfruit, a relatively new natural yet processed” sugar substitute.
- Coffee with sugar, artificial sweeteners, or natural non-caloric sweeteners
- Diet soda
- Fruit juice
- Sweetened teas or energy drinks (regular and diet)
- Dessert wines
- Salad dressings (with any added sugars or sweeteners)
- Nut butters (with any added sugars or sweeteners)
- BBQ sauce
- Teriyaki sauce
- Cakes, cookies, pies, tarts or other baked goods
- Candies and chocolates (even dark)
- Ice cream, popsicles, or other frozen treats
- Flavored yogurt
- Cereals (with any added sugars or sweeteners)
- Breads (with any added sugars or sweeteners)
- Pasta sauce (with any added sugars or sweeteners)
- Dried fruit
- “Nutrition” bars and granola bars (with any added sugars or sweeteners)
- Chewing gum (regular and sugar-free)
Foods to Enjoy
- Fresh/frozen fruit (with no sugar added)
- All vegetables, including sweet veggies like sweet potatoes, beets, carrots, etc. (HINT: Roast veggies to caramelize sugars and bring out sweetness)
- Legumes (beans, peas, etc.)
- Nuts (including roasted, but NOT honey-roasted)
- Plain yogurt (including Greek, Skyr, regular)
Grains (without any added sugars or sweeteners, choose preferably whole grains)
- Brown/wild rice
- Seltzer/sparkling water (including naturally flavored)
- Unsweetened teas (all varieties, including herbal)
- Milk and milk alternatives (including plain cow’s milk, plain soy milk, unsweetened almond milk, cashew milk, coconut and rice milk)
- Black coffee (can add extracts like vanilla, hazelnut, or spices like cinnamon, but not sugary syrups or sweeteners)Alcoholic beverages, without any added sugars, sweeteners, fruit juice, tonic, or sugary mixers (Limit to one per day. May enjoy a 5-ounce glass of red or white wine, a 12-ounce bottle of beer, or a 1.5 ounce shot of liquor.)
Condiments & miscellaneous
- All spices and seasonings (HINT: try spices that mimic sweet flavors like cinnamon and nutmeg)
- All vinegars (HINT: make a tasty dressing using apple cider vinegar or balsamic vinegar, Dijon mustard, and olive oil)
- Lemon/lime juice and lemon/lime zest
- Salsa (without added sugars/sweeteners)
- Hot sauce (without any added sugars or sweeteners)
- Soy sauce (preferably lesser sodium varieties)
- Cooking oils
- Unsweetened cocoa powder
Of course, there are plenty of clever and totally legal ways to sweeten the pot. You can add chopped fruit to dishes, roast vegetables and try new seasonings. Don’t be afraid to experiment!
Ready to join us? Be sure to use the hashtag #NoSugarTODAY on all your social media posts. We want to see how you're doing!