I hesitate to admit to it (I am supposed to be in my office) but I just spent a week at the Golden Door, which is a sinfully wonderful spa in San Marcos, California. Many of the guests are here to lose weight; others simply to stay fit. We begin the day at 6 AM with a hike, then exercise and stretch in fitness classes, dance, do yoga and yes, meditate. And perhaps most importantly we eat delicious meals with abundant fruit and garden vegetables that are low calorie and follow the official US dietary guidelines.
Although I did not bring my journals with me to the spa, I did read JAMA online. This week the journal published a patient handout on the new US dietary guidelines. These were created by the US Department of Health and Human Services and Agriculture and were updated in 2016. Two out of every three Americans are either overweight or obese, and the guidelines are intended to help us make healthier food and beverage choices. They now recommend limiting intake of added sugar to 10% of total daily calories.
Added sugar refers to sugar that is added to a food in addition to the sugars that naturally occur in it. You can determine if a food manufacturer has used added sugar by looking at the ingredients list. The “beware and eat in a limited fashion” list includes sucrose, agave nectar, evaporated cane juice, high fructose corn syrup, corn syrup, dextrose, honey, maple syrup, malt syrup, molasses and turbinado.
In order to limit added sugars to a “less than 10%” you have to try to do the following:
- Drink water or no-calorie drinks instead of soda, sports drinks, flavored coffee and sugar – sweetened juices. If you drink coffee, reduce the amount of sugar you add. (Remember, sweetened beverages are the biggest source of added sugars in the US diet.)
- Replace sweets and sugary snacks with healthier options. Even snacks that seem healthy such as granola bars or flavored yogurt can contain high amounts of sugar. Go for a piece of fruit. (I am eating a banana as I write this!)
- Don’t shop at the front of the grocery store. (This was in the JAMA patient page, so I’m not taking a personal stance against supermarket and grocery store owners and marketers who put sugar laden foods at the front, closest to the entrance and checkout counter.) The suggestion is that you shop at the perimeter of the store. This is where the vegetables, fruits, lean meats and fat-free or low-fat dairy products are kept. Oh, and I guess you’ll have to walk a few more steps to get there.
I realize that most of us know this but it’s nice to see that it’s become official. I’m off to do more exercise since I’ve finished my banana…