The Not So Sweet Truth of Too Much Sugar

Written By Kailey Donovan, Registered Dietitian

It is no secret that we all love the occasional cookie, brownie and ice cream. Clearly those food items contain added sugars, but what about the various other food items that contain an unnecessary amount of added sugar? Many people are not aware that basic pantry staples are huge culprits of added sugar. Items such as ketchup, pasta sauce, salad dressing, cereal, granola bars, the list goes on.

Sugar can be classified into two categories: “naturally occurring” and “added” sugar. Naturally occurring sugars are those found naturally in foods, such as fruits, vegetables and dairy products. While fruits and vegetables contain sugar, they also contain vitamins, minerals and fiber, which are essential to health. Added sugars are defined as sugars and syrups added to foods during preparation, processing, or added at the table.

How much sugar is too much?

There are several different recommendations regarding how much added sugar one should consume per day. The American Heart Association recommends no more than 25 grams or 6 teaspoons of added sugar per day for women. No more than 36 grams or 9 teaspoons of added sugar per day for men. When grocery shopping remember that 1 teaspoon of sugar is equal to 4 grams. To calculate the number of teaspoons in a product divide the amount of sugar in grams listed on the back by 4.

Side effects of too much sugar:

  • Weight gain
  • Increased risk of heart disease and high blood pressure
  • Unstable blood sugar/insulin resistance
  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Cravings for more sugar
  • Suppressed immune system
  • Tooth decay
  • Inflammation

Added sugar vs. sugar from fruit

Added sugar and naturally occurring sugar (from fruit) is metabolized the same way in the body. However, foods containing added sugar are usually calorically dense and low in vital nutrients making them “empty calories”. In addition to naturally occurring sugar, fruits contain vitamins, minerals and fiber. The fiber found in a WHOLE piece of fruit is slower to digest, will keep you fuller for longer and will stabilize your blood sugar. Juicing is a very popular trend right now, however it does take most of the fiber out of the fruit.

How to reduce added sugar in your diet:

  • Always read the sugar content on the nutrition facts panel. Fortunately, all nutrition facts panel will soon require the food company to list added sugars separately.
  • Read the ingredient list. If sugar (or an alternative name for sugar) is listed in the first few ingredients, that is a red flag that there is a high amount of added sugar in that product. Examples of alternative names for sugar include brown rice syrup, glucose, fructose, raw cane sugar, high fructose corn syrup, maltodextrin and agave nectar… to name a few.
  • Fill your diet with fruits and vegetables that contain naturally occurring sugars, as well as vitamins, minerals and fiber.
  • Pair your fruit with protein or a healthy fat to help stabilize blood sugar. For example, an apple with a handful of almonds or a hard-boiled egg.
  • Watch your sugar intake at breakfast. Cereals, pancakes, on the go granola bars and yogurt can be huge culprits of added sugar.
  • Don’t drink your calories. Limit intake of sodas, sugary drinks, coffee with sweetener and sports drinks.
  • Make your own salad dressing with olive oil, vinegar and Italian seasoning!
  • Consume more fiber to help you stay fuller longer.

References:

How Much is Too Much? Retrieved from http://sugarscience.ucsf.edu/the-growing-concern-of-overconsumption/#.Wd7k4VtSyUk

Hidden Sugar Foods to Avoid & Healthier Alternatives. Retrieved from https://draxe.com/hidden-sugar-foods/.

Added Sugars. Retrieved From http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/HealthyLiving/HealthyEating/Nutrition/Added-Sugars_UCM_305858_Article.jsp#.Wdvuj1dlmu4.

O’Connor, A (2016). How the Sugar Industry Shifted Blame to Fat. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2016/09/13/well/eat/how-the-sugar-industry-shifted-blame-to-fat.html.

Johnson, Rachel K. et al. Weighing in on Added Sugars and Health. Journal of the American Dietetic Association, Volume 110 , Issue 9 , 1296 – 1299.

 

Strategies to Maintain Your New Year’s Resolutions

Written By: Kailey Donovan, Registered Dietitian

We are now a month into the New Year and all that motivation you had on the 1st of the year may be starting to fade. Many of us give 110% right out of the gate, but are unable to maintain that motivation for the long term. While the New Year is a great time to set new intentions and goals for ourselves, it is also important to make sure we set ourselves up for long term success!

Many health related New Year’s resolutions involve going on a miserable diet. The top contender is typically a diet that involves cutting out carbohydrates (am I right?). Instead of ingraining the word diet into your head 24/7, think about switching your mindset towards adopting healthy habits that you can maintain for the long term.

Here are some tips to help you maintain your resolution(s)!

Educate yourself on healthy nutrition. Instead of focusing solely on the diet you choose to follow and what they tell you to do, take the time to educate yourself so you are able to maintain those changes on your own. Learn what a proper portion size of meat looks like, what foods to consume before/after your workout and how to plan meals on your own! It is very easy to follow a meal plan that someone hands you, but are you really learning anything? It is always best to make sure that anything you read online is backed by a Registered Dietitian.

Stop obsessing about the number on the scale. Weight fluctuates every day and many factors contribute to what the scale says, which is why numbers should not be the focus. Once you are able to break free from using the scale everyday you will be able to focus on your other achievements such as increased energy, being able to run an extra mile, or sleeping better at night.

Set yourself up for success. Creating unrealistic goals for yourself is a recipe for failure. With all the social media we now have, it is easy to compare yourself to others and envy other people for how their body looks. We all are metabolically and physiologically different. What works for your friend may not work for you and that is okay. Setting realistic goals will allow you to maintain your successes and stay motivated!

Consistency is key. Eating one salad a month will not result in instant weight loss and eating a slice of pizza will not cause an instant 10 pound weight gain. It is important to stay consistent with whatever healthy eating pattern you choose to follow. It is just as important to not beat yourself up over having a less healthy food item from time to time.

Restriction and willpower are not the answers to living a healthy lifestyle. Heading into the new year with the mindset of cutting out carbohydrates, sugar and fried foods (etc) will only result in binging on those foods later on. Feeling like you need to develop the willpower to avoid certain foods and achieve your goals is no way to live. Practicing moderation with foods and intuitive eating will set you up for greater long term successes!

Create small goals within bigger goals. Maybe your goal is to lose X amount of pounds in X amount of time. Create multiple small goals that are easily attainable along the way, such as bringing your lunch three times a week vs. eating lunch out everyday. Those smaller goals will give you a confidence boost and even more motivation to keep working towards your main goal.

Create a plan and hold yourself accountable. Scheduling your workouts into your planner, or creating a menu for the week are simple ways to hold yourself accountable along the way.

Appreciate yourself. If you fall off track with your new healthier lifestyle don’t beat yourself up over it. Forgive yourself, identify what may have caused the minor hiccup, make changes and move forward!

~ Try not to worry about what everyone else in your life is doing. Focus on yourself and your goals. Everybody has a different idea of what overall health means to them. Your health and wellness goals may be extremely different from your best friends. Share your successes to your friends and family, but try not to compare yourself to them! ~

Take home message: Appreciate the body you have and all the amazing things it does for you. Fueling it with the proper nutrition it needs will only make yourself feel that much better! Lastly, focus on living a healthy lifestyle instead of achieving short term weight loss.

Ditch the Detox

 

Throughout this holiday season you may be thinking to yourself that you need to “detox” or “cleanse” after many days of indulgence. There are many products out there that promise a “quick-fix” or to “shed fat fast”, but are detox and cleanse diets really necessary?

Short answer: No, detox and cleanse diets are not necessary for overall health.

The truth: Detox and cleanse diets may produce quick weight loss results. However, they are not sustainable for long-term, overall health and weight maintenance. These types of diets are extremely restrictive and NOT the way to detox your body from “toxins”. The human body is capable of some pretty amazing things, which includes naturally getting rid of toxins. Your liver acts as a filter system (like a Brita, but a bit more scientific). It digests food and rids the body of toxic substances. The kidneys also help in the detox process by filtering out wastes via urine. Some detox diets are so restrictive and may backfire by causing one to binge eat on the food they have been deprived of. Most weight loss results produced from detox diets do not last and many end up regaining the weight (sometimes even more).

Tips to help promote the body’s natural detox:

  • Reduce consumption of processed foods, sneaky added sugars and foods high in saturated fat
  • Drink plenty of water
  • Consume high fiber foods (25 g/day for females, 38g/day for males)
  • Eat 5-9 servings of fruits and vegetables everyday- follow the MyPlate guidelines and make half your plate fruits & vegetables
  • Get adequate sleep and regular exercise to ensure that the body is functioning optimally
  • Eat cruciferous vegetables
  • Eat foods with probiotics such as yogurt and sauerkraut, or take a high-quality probiotic

Written By Kailey, Registered Dietitian

Always be cautious when you read things online. Many non-credentialed people claim to be experts in the field of nutrition and may be promoting detox diets that are not safe, or necessary to living a healthy lifestyle. It is important to consult with a credentialed health care professional who is familiar with your health status. To learn more about detox diets, refer to the link listed below. 

Reference:

Foroutan, R. What’s the Deal with Detox Diets? Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. http://www.eatright.org/resource/health/weight-loss/fad-diets/whats-the-deal-with-detox-diets

Pumpkin and Apple and Fig, oh PIE!

 

It’s not fall without a little PUMPkin…

Fall is here; and so are the Pumpkin Spice Lattes, apple cider doughnuts and endless buffalo chicken dip on football Sunday’s! Is your yellow brick road into the holiday season filled with all of these delicious seasonal foods? If the answer is no, we need to talk… 

No need to set out like the tin man dressed in armor to repel those apple cider doughnuts, or to fearfully walk down the road trying to avoid Aunt Mary’s famous pumpkin pie like the cowardly lion.  Odds are, avoiding all of these festive foods will just lead you to over-indulge at some point. “Okay, so she’s going to tell me to make all these recipes with 0% fat plain Greek yogurt and applesauce (boring…)”. Nope! Instead of altering recipes, which is always an option, we are going to keep three tips in mind on our journey to Emerald City.

1. Select THREE items you would like to sample when attending a Sunday football get together or at a family get together. After having a bite of each item, ask yourself if you truly enjoy it. If you don’t, throw it out. If you do, finish it, without punishing yourself.
 
2.  After completing a meal or hors d’oeuvre, before dipping another chip in that delicious spinach artichoke dip, wait 20 minutes. Drink some water, catch up with a family member or friend you haven’t seen in a while or grab a group and get a flag football game together! It takes 20 minutes for your stomach to signal to your brain that you are full. 
 
3. Did someone say fall festival? Let’s be honest….there is some sort of pumpkin launching, apple picking or corn mazing event almost every weekend. Get out there an enjoy them! While food is a large part of every social gathering, it doesn’t have to be the only component. 

 

So while there’s no clicking those red heels together three times to carry you through the holiday season with no extra worry about adding on some extra pounds, both CAC and I are here to make your adventure down the yellow brick road this holiday season a little more joyful! Here’s to a happy, healthy holiday season for all!

 

Post written by Stephanie Sudjian, Registered Dietitian at the Cambridge Athletic Club

Tips & Tricks For Enjoying Your Summer Cookouts

Ahhhh, Summer…time for New Englanders to take every opportunity to bask in the sun and enjoy doing all of their favorite activities outside, including eating and drinking. As we all know, this means countless backyard barbeques, tables covered with delectable dishes, and coolers filled with our favorite summer refreshers. What’s not to love?!

Unfortunately, far too often do these summer bashes quickly spiral into a guilt-fest, as we scorn ourselves after third-helpings of the potato salad or realizing our hand hasn’t left the chip bowl for more than 10 seconds in the past hour. Then without realizing it, we’ve spent the entire party tallying how many crackers that girl with the six-pack took rather than listening to our friend recount their recent vacation. Or before we know it, we’ve single-handedly polished off the entire plate of cheese and crackers, and suddenly a nap on the pool floatie sounds much more appealing than the game of corn hole we’ve just committed to. At the end of the day, we leave feeling sluggish, bloated and concerned about attending yet another cookout the following weekend.

Now, I am not here to tell you that the only way to enjoy your next cookout is to say “no, thank you” to the beer and only have the grilled chicken and a side salad. I am here to show you that you can have your burger and eat it, too (and feel good in the process)! Whether you’re hosting or attending the festivities, here are some helpful tips and tricks to help you enjoy the remainder of your summer parties:

If you’re hosting or responsible for bringing food/drinks…

  • Instead of using mayonnaise to make the potato salad, try plain low-fat Greek yogurt for less fat and more protein
  • Use 100% whole wheat buns for your burgers and hot dogs for added fiber and fullness
  • To cut down on saturated fat, use at least 95% lean turkey meat for burgers in place of beef
  • To cut calories (and increase hydration!) place flavored seltzer water and fresh berries next to the wine and leave a sign with instructions for a wine spritzer ( ½ wine, ½ seltzer, a few berries)

If you’re attending…

  • Have a light meal or snack before you go (e.g. veggies and hummus), so you’re not as inclined to snack on less healthy options at the party
  • When it’s time to sit down for your meal, fill half of your plate with veggies and try to keep the starches to 1/4 of your plate
  • If you suspect no one else will bring a veggie dish, offer to bring one yourself!
  • Distract yourself from the snacks by starting a lawn game or jumping in the pool

And one final (IMPORTANT) tip…

Let yourself enjoy it!! Although it may feel like your summer has been two months of backyard binging, the likely reality is that this is not happening as often as it seems. Furthermore, we are all entitled to enjoy that perfect burger and beer combination every once in awhile! Hopefully, keeping in mind these tips will help you make healthier choices overall, while also allowing you to feel better about that hotdog you’ve been craving all summer.

Post written by Stephanie Sudjian, Registered Dietitian at the Cambridge Athletic Club

 

 

We’re Pumped!

We are pumped to announce that our BRAND NEW Les Mills SMARTBARS have arrived!

“Old barbell technology was made for those with time on their hands and feet firmly fixed on the floor. The SMARTBAR™ system has put an end to that. Now transition times are minimized, and workouts are maximized.

The SMARTBAR™ is like nothing the industry has seen before. Combining cutting-edge ergonomic design with strong and durable construction, it is fitness equipment of the highest quality.”

Come experience them for yourself at a BodyPump class on our schedule!

 

HYDRATION

Well folks, we’ve waited all winter and it’s finally here. Summer, that is! June 21st marks our first day of summer, and with the long sunny days and warm nights approaching, now is a good time to review the basics of staying hydrated!

The most obvious way to stay hydrated is to drink water. This likely isn’t a surprise to most of you knowing that more than 60% of our bodies are made up of water. And luckily for us, water is usually pretty easy and cheap to get! Often times people will comment that they’re tired of drinking plain water. Well, my answer to that is, then don’t! There are so many ways to enhance water leaving very few reasons to settle for plain water, especially if you don’t enjoy it. Try any or all of the strategies below to give your water a boost!

Add herbs (basil, mint, and sage)

Add fruits and vegetables (strawberries, raspberries, blackberries and cucumber)

Combine both fruit and herbs for a dynamite flavor!

Strawberries + Lemon

Watermelon + Basil

Cucumber + Mint

Citrus (orange, lemon or lime rind) + Blueberries

Sprinkle in some crystal light (there are so many flavors available!)

Crack open a bottle of flavored or unflavored sparkling water

Being summer time, it is also important to recognize times when your body may need more than what water provides. For example, during long bouts of sweaty exercise—say, in general, 60 minutes of running, cycling, high intensity intervals or circuits—your body looses essential salts, or electrolytes. (Have you ever tasted your sweat? …salty, right?) Sodium is one electrolyte lost through sweat. Other electrolytes lost include potassium and chloride.

After long, rigorous workouts, or simply workouts done on a very hot and humid day, it is a good idea to rehydrate with something that will replenish electrolyte losses. Below is a list of drink options that can help you do so. However keep in mind that all sports drinks are not created equal: some will offer more calories than others, and each provides varying amounts of electrolytes. Test out a few of these options to see what works best for you. We don’t all sweat the same anyways!

  • Gatorade G2 Series
  • Powerade Zero
  • Propel Water
  • Coconut Water

Note: Some people may benefit from re-hydrating with regular Powerade and Gatorade products; however this is best determined on an individual basis. Now that you have a bunch of hydrating drinks to try out, let’s finish up with discussing a few realistic strategies to encourage drinking throughout the day. Again, try some of the strategies provided to see if they may work for you!

Carry a refillable water bottle with you throughout the day. If that seems unrealistic, make it even easier by leaving a bottle on your work desk, and in your car (or bring one on the train).

Purchase a water bottle with an infuser built in. This makes it so easy to add (or switch out) fruits, herbs, or vegetables to your drink.

Buy drinks in bulk. If you’re someone who appreciates ultra-convenience, then this may be a good solution for you. Throw two to three bottles in your bag on the way to work, and be sure to recycle the containers once you’re done!

Set timers or reminders to drink. These can be on your phone or on post-its at your desk. I know it sounds funny, but it really works for some people. We are all so busy these days, so this can serve as a constant reminder to take a sip (…and also as an easy check-off on the To-Do list!).

Remember, if you feel thirsty you are already on your way to dehydration. Stay ahead of those cravings by sipping throughout the day, ensuring a hydrated, healthy and happy you all summer long!

The 80/20 Principle

Yes, we know the struggle. Tired of the constant dieting? The “if I can just make it past 3:00 PM I’ll be fine!”. Find yourself frequently cutting out food groups in an attempt to keep off the weight?

We tend to run into these internal battles with ourselves and food when we try to live our lives at 100%. Eating well, 100% of the time. Working out at 100% effort, 100% of the time. Performing at 100% at our jobs, at home and in our communities.

Let me introduce you to the 80/20 principle as it pertains to nutrition. To maintain our wellness goals (and still stay sane in the process, yes that means a glass of wine or your favorite pizza from Za!), we are encouraged to incorporate the 80/20 principle into our lives. So what does it mean?

It means that 80% of the time, we want to eat a nutritionally balanced diet that incorporates all of those food groups we’ve been learning about since elementary school. Whole grains, fruits and vegetables, lean protein, healthy fats. However, we want some wiggle room (to enjoy that delicious ice cream of course)! That’s where the 20% comes into play. By allowing ourselves to enjoy foods that may not be as nutritionally beneficial for us as others, we are better able to create a healthy lifestyle as opposed to adhering to a “diet”. Notice I used the word, ENJOY. Not “obsess over” not “binge” not “freak out after eating and run right to the gym”. Remembering to develop healthy relationships with what we choose to put in our bodies is crucial to incorporating this principle.

No one is expected to live at 100%. Remember, it’s all about BALANCE.

Post written by Stephanie Sudjian, Registered Dietitian at the Cambridge Athletic Club

Member Spotlight – Larry P.

Larry recently joined the CAC and re-capped his very first yoga class experience in the essay below. It’s funny, it’s satirical and it’s oh so true:

Yoga. Gettin loose in the 60’s (again)! I recently participated in my first ever Yoga class – 75 minutes of physical activity and “poses” seemingly designed, in my case, to provide instant and constant feedback to just how out of shape I’ve become. It’s not that I needed this class to confirm this (of this I’m aware) but each and every step throughout the 75 minutes revealed every muscle group I’ve neglected by a lifetime of not properly stretching.

As the class progressed I marveled at the flexibility of the fellow yogarites (???) that surrounded me. Skiing the black diamonds at Park City is a piece of cake compared to the physicality required of these exercises. At various times I wanted to stand and applaud their abilities, though this would have been a self-serving act…. standing in a yoga class is easy, all the rest….not so easy. Where Gumby-like flexibility is required for most of the exercises, my frame more closely resembles a body assembled by Dr. Frankenstein. Case in point. In all of the film adaptations I’ve seen of the Mary Shelley classic, good ol’ Frankie never assumed the “downward facing dog” or “locust” or “cobra”, or any number of the “bird” poses. No…Frankie always walked stiff-legged and upright…you get the picture. So here I am… Frankenstein in a room full of Gumbys.

Undeterred, I soldiered on, though there were many times I wanted to call a time out, but I found the routine did not allow for such luxuries. I instead resorted to those poses I could do. I found myself repeatedly resorting to the pose where one puts their hands together in prayer, in my case praying the 75 minutes would soon be over.

At one point, the yoga instructor led us through a bending exercise, from an upright position, where the objective was to reach over and have your palms lay flat on the mat without bending your legs! I attempted this, came up about 2 feet short, and compromised on a position where my palms rested comfortably on my knees – a stance that was familiar to me from all those years playing center field. Preparing to chase down a line drive or a fly ball is not the objective here, rather the intent is to bend your torso completely over as if a flexible straw! That ain’t gonna happen anytime soon, in fact likely never, but you gotta start somewhere, so I’ve created a new pose,” the not so nimble center fielder”.

They say that yoga will improve my golf swing. In that I have no doubt as there are endless possibilities for improvement to my golf swing. But I have far less ambitious objectives in mind…like reaching into the back seat while driving to pat the dog without pulling a muscle in my back…or adjusting ski bindings or the buckles of my ski boots without the need for developing a strategy to do so…you can never find a step stool on the ski slopes when you need one! I exaggerate of course, but not by much. Frankenstein wore the equivalent of ski boots.

So, I’ve embarked on a journey to get loose in my 60’s. I can only hope that my muscle memory partially forgets all my transgressions along the way, and perhaps allows for a level of flexibility that will serve me well in the years to come. We’ll see. Namaste. -Larry P.

Valentine’s Day Blog

Who said Valentine’s Day was only meant for celebrating the relationships we have with our significant others? 

This year, celebrate a positive, healthy relationship with the FOOD that comes along with this holiday too! How? Follow these 4 simple tips to enjoy your sweetheart (or sweet-TART) and stay mindful while doing so!

1. Chocolate is NOT taboo on Valentine’s Day, even when you are still trying to fit into your favorite skinny jeans the next day! Don’t deprive yourself of the things you love. Why not throw those extra pieces in your big box of chocolates into the freezer to enjoy throughout the week? Or better yet, share those chocolates with your friend’s at work the next day. Savor the flavor and spread the LOVE! 

2. Eating healthy can be both delicious and nutritious. Whoever said chocolate was “bad” for us must have never tasted DARK chocolate! Move away from labeling foods as “good” or “bad”. Look at food for what it is, and the benefit it provides the body. If you’re going for the sweets this Valentine’s Day, grab some dark chocolate rich in antioxidants that help our bodies maintain a strong immune system in this cold weather!

3. Instead of footing a large bill at an expensive restaurant (which let’s face it ladies, also means spending money on heels and a new dress!), try out a new recipe for two at home. Get in touch with your creative side and experiment with doing something that nourishes YOU and the person you love. Too often we get sidetracked with caring for everyone else, that we neglect to care for ourselves. So what’s stopping you? No one said you had to be the next Martha Stewart to cook up something delicious!

4. Stop counting! Looking forward to giving or receiving that big heart box, but worried about the fat and calories? No need! If you need something to count, skip counting the calories, and instead count the amount of bites you take to enjoy the savory piece of chocolate. Rather than thinking about the next piece you can get your hands on, stay in the moment and enjoy what you are eating. Chew your food enough so that it doesn’t give you indigestion. Remember, it takes 20 minutes for your brain to get the message from your stomach that it is full! Think about that before you go for the next piece of chocolate. 

CAC is offering free guest passes on Valentine’s Day too, if you’re in the mood to workout pre-chocolate  😉

 

Meet with our Dietitian, Stephanie, for more great recipes and other nutrition services!

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