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Let’s Talk About Sugar

Let’s talk about sugar. Are you aware of your intake?

Indigenous communities historically ate more balanced diets and were well aware of what was needed to fuel their mental, emotional, spiritual and physical bodies. Before colonization, overindulgence, high blood sugar, and diabetes was uncommon. Since then, there has been a disconnect from traditional food ways.

The Congressional Indians Appropriations Act of 1851 created the Indian reservation system. Being confined to reservation boundaries forced major lifestyle changes, and led to a reliance on the U.S. government for commodities. The high sugar content of commodities and other modern foods is a major contributor to the Indigenous epidemics of diseases like diabetes and heart disease.

Today, commodity foods still comprise a percentage of the diet of Indigenous People in the U.S. This combined with fast food, sugary drinks, and life-on-the-go can make eating well feel like picking your way through a sugary minefield.

January 18-24, 2021, is National Sugar Awareness Week. Here is a list of steps to help eliminate or cut down sugar in your diet. It can be hard to ditch the sweet stuff but read on for tips to reduce your daily sugar intake.

Read labels: Sugar likes to disguise itself on food packaging. However, the best way to tell how much sugar is in your food is to read the nutrition information label. This will indicate how many grams of sugar is present in your food.

Beware of hidden sugars: Common culprits of food that have sugar are those we typically eat every day. This includes breakfast cereals, soft drinks and even foods like hot dogs and spaghetti sauce. Learn to recognize the different names for sugar in the ingredient list of foods.

Switch to natural sweeteners: You can cut your sugar intake without giving up that sweet fix by opting for natural sweeteners like stevia or xylitol. Adding it into your morning coffee or afternoon snack is a great alternative.

Give in a little: If the idea of natural sweeteners doesn’t satisfy you, it is OK to eat just a small amount of what you may be craving. Enjoying a little bit of what you love in moderation can be a good lifestyle change rather than quitting cold turkey. An example of this is breaking that cookie in half and saving the second part for tomorrow, or reaching towards almonds but adding a tablespoon of chocolate chips into the mix. Combine the foods you crave with healthier options to avoid overdoing your sugar intake.

Grab gum: Maybe cutting out sugar cold turkey is something you’re interested in, though? Some people do find that going this route helps cravings diminish altogether in just a few days. If in the right mindset, give it a try. A helpful hint to successfully do this is by chewing gum. Research shows that food cravings can drastically be reduced if that type of a distraction is there.

Eat regularly: Whether limiting sugar intake, combining foods or completely going cold turkey, having a regular eating schedule is important. Studies suggest that eating every three to five hours can help keep blood sugar stable.

If you’re not sure if the amount of sugar in your everyday life is causing more harm than good, be on the lookout for other resources and journals for additional information on the app this week.

Finding the line between indulging in a healthy way and overindulgence can save you from future health issues. Let us lend a helping hand in figuring it all out!