Pour some sugar...in my coffee
Confession of the day: I still take sugar in my coffee.
YES. REAL SUGAR.
Worse, still? I use half and half. Not almond milk, not cashew milk, but real, actual dairy.
Here’s the deal, ya’ll, I’m a moderation type of gal. I believe that all lifestyle changes should be livable for the long haul, not just until you feel good for beach and pool weather. I believe we should live the eighty/twenty rule: eat healthy eighty percent of the time, leaving twenty percent for ice cream, a few beers and a burger at a summer bbq or slice of pizza the size of your head at the boardwalk. This looks different on all people, so we need to remember there isn’t a “one size fits all” when it comes to fitness and nutrition.
We all have our “things” that are non-negotiable. You know what I mean, a “favorite” that needs to taste a certain way for us to enjoy it, or some kind daily ritual that brings us a little joy. For some, it’s having pasta with their Sunday sauce, an occasional ride through the Bojangles drive through for fried chicken, or a piece of candy every day (I know someone’s eyes just went wide reading “candy every day”- I said “a piece”- not a candy bar!).
For me? I need to enjoy my first cup of coffee every day. Need. Don’t get me wrong- I’ve tried the alternatives before saying this. I’ve tried doing cashew milk with a tsp of vanilla protein powder (ugh, that went right in the drain!). I have tried the coconut milk creamer, soy, almond milk, etc. I like stevia, but considering it’s also in my daily superfood shake, I don’t want to overdo that either (remember, moderation!).
Finally, after more than two years of experimentation, I accepted that my first cup of coffee every day will have two packets of sugar and about two tablespoons of half and half. I’m a pretty sugar conscious person (thanks Max Challenge of Hazlet!!), so I’m usually pretty aware of how much I’m ingesting (that’s not to say I don’t ingest it, anyone who’s seen me ogle a cheesecake knows my willpower has it’s limits!). I just pick and choose my sugars, which is easier to do when you know where it is!
Here’s the thing about sugar, friends; everyone thinks to cut out candy or desserts to reduce their sugar intake. Some people take it a step further and cut out things like yogurt, jellies/jams, candied fruit like raisins/craisins/freeze dried fruit. However, sugar is hidden in so many foods that you may not be aware of, that you probably have sitting in your pantry as we speak. While below are some suggestions of where to check, your biggest takeaway from this post is to CHECK YOUR LABELS.
Cereal and oatmeals: Most people are aware that these have sugar, but they’d probably be surprised to see just how much is in there. One way to combat these is to compare brands of cereal. You can also buy plain oatmeal, and add your own toppings. It won’t eliminate sugar, but it’ll likely reduce it quite a bit; OR, you can always go with eggs and veggies for breakfast to knock it out completely.
Carbohydrate products: pasta, snack crackers, taco shells, etc. Brown rice versions of these products have a fraction of the sugar if you can acclimate yourself to the change in textures (I honestly barely remember what “white” pasta tastes like anymore, so brown rice pasta is pretty much all I have in my pantry). With the gluten free craze these days, brown rice products are on the rise and much easier to find in regular grocery stores (not just specialty stores like Whole Foods/Trader Joes).
Jarred tomato products (salsa/tomato sauces), nut butters, bacon/turkey bacon, sausage/turkey sausage. These were the ones that REALLY surprised me!! That’s some super sneaky sugar right there. If you read labels, you’ll eventually find one that doesn’t have sugar in them, but it takes digging.
Drinks: mixed alcoholic beverages, soda, iced tea, lemonade, juice, wine, etc. Drinks are a huuuuuge source of sugar consumption. I, personally, do not feel that any form of fruit juice is healthy unless you’re literally squeezing it from the fruit. I’m the person that cringes when they see “healthy smoothies” filled with apple, orange or cranberry juices. There are absolutely far worse things you can ingest in life, but most juices are filled with false promises of increased health, loaded with sugar, and very minimal nutritional benefit.
Coffee drinks are also a big source of hidden sugar (and calories). A grande caramel macchiato at Starbucks is 250 calories and a staggering 33 grams of sugar. You can eat a brownie for the same amount of grams (and a hundred less calories, if you can believe it!). They typically put FOUR pumps of syrup in a grande specialty drink, so if I’m super jonesing for a flavored treat of a coffee, I will order a grande of a regular coffee (pike), with two pumps of syrup and a splash of cream (still get the yummy flavor without unnecessary excess!).
I know it sounds super tedious to read labels (especially when there are soooo many options these days), but once you get the hang of it, you figure out what brands have less/no sugar, or where to look on labels to find the content, you’ll be back to being able to do a “supermarket sweep” in no time!
Life can be hard enough, depriving ourselves completely of the things we enjoy just makes it harder. It’s possible to enjoy all we like, and be healthy, it just takes a little bit of effort.
Here’s hoping everyone has a happy, healthy week!