Monthly Archives: January 2016

A Sweet Way To Get Off The Sugar Coaster

The Sugar Coaster is the last of the post in the series focusing on the nutritional aspects in the logistics of losing weight.  Next will be the emotional aspects in the logistics of losing weight.

sugar coaster

Sugar Coaster

Do you love your sugar?  Does it perk you up, then send you crashing about an hour later, leaving you wanting more?  Do you get anxious and tremulous if you don’t have it but also shaky and nervous if you eat too many?  You are on the sugar coaster and what a hell-of-a ride you are experiencing.  But are you enjoying it and could you be having a better, more satisfying ride that doesn’t leave you with the highs and lows?

Dietary Guidelines 2015

How does this fit in to the new dietary guidelines that recommend reducing sugar by 10% of total daily calories.  The Dietary Guidelines for 2015 are updated every five years and were changed to reflect the higher incidence of preventable chronic disease and weight gain in the American population.  Nearly half of Americans have one or more chronic diseases like heart disease or type 2 diabetes and two thirds of the population are either overweight or obese.  Their recommendations are clear in their message, but also difficult to implement, unless you’re a nutritional wiz-kid.   So how does a sugar lover who wants to enjoy sweets but doesn’t want to experience the sugar coaster, nor gain weight or develop a chronic disease make this work?

What Is 10%?

Calorie requirements are based on age, sex, size and activity level.  A 50-year-old woman who is sedentary should have somewhere around 1400 calories a day, but if she becomes more active that amount can go up to 2000 calories a day.  A 50-year-old man who is sedentary can have about 2000 calories and if he is very active that can go up to 2800.  So take 10% of any of these scenarios and you get a range of calories from 140 to 280 that each person has to spend on their daily sugar intake and still meet the nutritional needs of the body.  Eating into those other calories your body needs with sweets will only guarantee you will become increasingly tired, your body will stop performing the way you want as it slowly becomes malnourished and you invite heart disease or diabetes into your life.

Enjoy Your Cake Without the Sugar Coaster And Be Healthy

Everybody has their little “somethin’-somethin’ “ they like to have at certain times of the day.  You can still enjoy it but make it work for you.  Look how you might be getting other sugar over the course of your day and either reduce it or find substitutions.  Here’s how to get it to 10%:

  1. Stop drinking sodas, sweetened teas and most juices.  Sodas are sugar, with some providing up to 65 grams of the roller coaster high.  There are 4 calories per gram of sugar, amounting to about 260 calories in that one 20 oz bottle.  Drink flavored seltzer water which has no sugar, nor calories and it still gives you the bubbly.   Lipton’s sweetened tea  contains almost 23 gms of sugar in 8 oz.   That’s not much different from soda.  Switch to unsweetened or if you really miss the sweet taste, add a hint of Stevia.  Tropicana’s 100% orange juice contains 22 grams of sugar.  That’s 88 calories.  Eat an orange instead that has 17 gms of sugar and 4 gms of fiber.  Fiber will slow down that rapid rise in the sugar coaster and give you a longer, smoother ride.
  2. Stop the flavored coffees and decrease the sugar you add to your coffee.  It’s amazing how you can ween yourself off some of the sugar without compromising taste.  I have found that adding cinnamon or nutmeg also seems to make up the difference in the sugar I eliminated.
  3. Stop eating foods that use a lot of artificial sweeteners.  Diet sodas and sugar-free foods will only enhance your desire for sweets and increase your sugar cravings.  It also will raise your “sweet thermometer” making your taste buds expect extra sugar in things like cakes and cookies in order to register it as sweet.  Not satisfying a high sweet thermometer is like taking your roller coaster-loving child to an amusement park and saying “no you can’t go on that today”.  It’s better to just not go there in the first place.
  4. Look at your food labels for unnecessary added sugars.  You will find it added often to prepackaged foods like frozen dinners, tomato sauces, sweet breads and yogurts.  Try making your own tomato sauces where you can control the ingredients.  As a time saver, make a bunch and freeze them into batches.  Buy plain, low-fat or fat-free yogurts and add your own fresh or frozen fruit.  Again, you are banking your sugar grams to save for what you really want.
  5. Make your sweets count!  Now this is the part I love.  Some of you might have seen the almond cake picture I posted on Facebook last week.  It is sinfully delicious and is made with whole grains, almonds and fat-free plain Greek yogurt.  These ingredients boost the protein and fiber and the only sweetness from the entire cake comes from 1 cup of sugar.  The generous portion of almond extract adds to the sweet flavoring without adding actual sugar.  And the fat in this cake is the heart-healthy mono-unsaturated kind found in  the almonds and canola oil.  A one-twelve portion of this cake delivers only 74 calories from sugar and 275 total calories in a serving size.  But it is moist, satisfying, and does not cause that sugar coaster ride.  This kind of strategy is what I apply to all my desserts.  You can check them out on my website.

My philosophy is to enhance the good and dilute the bad.  All my recipes follow that motto.  I find using Greek yogurt, nuts, flax seed and canola oil in my baked good helps me to feel satisfied and grounded.  Besides, I’m not crazy about roller coasters.

Have questions?  Reach me at


Candy Cravings On Your Mind?

These next couple of blogs are part of the series of common nutritional and emotional mistakes people often make in the logistics of losing weight. Today’s focus is on candy craving.

There are times during the day when the brain just stalls and candy cravings call.   It gets fixated on something or quits making any creative breakthroughs.  That’s when the ole candy dish starts to look mighty fine….and if you grew up on the 70’s you might hum that jingle “sometimes you feel like a nut, sometimes you don’t” and reach into that bowl for something chocolotey, coconutty and chewy.  Maybe some of you have been disciplined enough to still have some of your Halloween candy (or maybe you just stocked up when they went down 50% the next day).  So you open that piece of candy either from home, at work or in your car and you pop it in your mouth.   Mmmmm.  Can you taste it?  Bursting with flavor, little crunchy, little chewy, little chocolatey.  All kinds of sensations and textures filling every corner of your mouth.  You’re in heaven.  You just got that initial pick-me-up feeling.

Mintel’s report on Snacking Motivations and Attitudes US 2015 found that many people are snacking in order to satisfy a craving or improve work focus.  But what you choose to snack on can either be a pick-me-up and keep me up, or a pick-me-up followed quickly by a put-me down kind of feeling.  My goal is to help you see how eating soda, cookies, candy or some other sugary snack is just a short-term fix, only for that mouth-filling moment, and then poof, it’s gone and you’re tired.

Candy Cravings, A Pick-Me-Up or Put-Me-Down

Feeling tired or unproductive at work is a frustrating feeling.  Add time pressure and boredom with a task and you have a magic recipe for a candy craving.  It seems logical that candy does rev us up, giving us all kinds of energy immediately, but you have to understand what comes next.  All that extra sugar tells the pancreas to make extra insulin which then causes our blood sugars to crash.  Soda, cookies, fruit snacks and other sweets do the same thing.  That’s what makes us tired – the fluctuation in blood sugar – especially from a candy craving.

Discretionary Calories, Not Much Room For Candy Cravings

A day's worth of food

Nutrition Action Healthletter visual

Discretionary calories are the “fun” calories we should only eat after we’ve eaten the nutrient rich foods our body needs.  For a 2000 calorie diet it amounts to about 200 calories for a sedentary individual a day.  They include the sugar in coffee, the wine with dinner, the candy for the afternoon pick-me-up.  The governor in our brain should say, “hold on, will your day’s worth of food look anything like the menu above?”  Are your candy and cookie choices using up the calories your body really needs to deal with the daily attack by cancer-causing cells,  building the good HDL to fight off the artery-narrowing bad LDL, wearing out your pancreas and leading you to type 2 diabetes, or aggravating inflammatory conditions like rheumatoid arthritis?  How is that short-term candy craving fix really serving you?  If you really want that candy, save it as a reward after you’ve eaten what your body really needs and then go for a walk.

Cravings Pass And There Are Better Foods To Improve Focus

That afternoon lull might really be a sign of boredom, tiredness or need for brain stimulation. Changing your scenery, talking to someone, doing a brain teaser or doing a different task might be what your brain really needs.  If you need a pick-me-up to really improve focus, choose something from the menu example above to check off some of those nutrients your body really needs and save those discretionary calories for later.  If your mouth still really wants that candy delay it by then first get a cup of tea, talking to someone and then see if you still really want that candy.  Cravings pass and will power gets stronger, one craving at a time.