Health & Wellbeing
There’s No Sugar-Coating the Truth (The Truth about Added Sugars)
Sodexo Health & Wellness
Sodexo Health & Wellness

It’s no surprise that nutrition and health experts recommend cutting back on sugar as a key to healthy eating.  Sugars added to foods and beverages are “empty” calories, and diets higher in added sugars are associated with negative health effects, including an increased risk of heart disease, obesity and type 2 diabetes.

And there’s a good chance that you’re eating more sugar than you should.  Take this quick quiz to test your sugar smarts in observance of National Nutrition Month!

The main source of added sugars in our diets is table sugar.

False.  The two main sources of added sugars in our diets are sugar-sweetened beverages (soft drinks; sports, energy and fruit drinks) and snacks and sweets (cakes, cookies, ice cream, candy and other desserts).  These sources account for about 70 percent of the added sugars in U.S. diets.

All sugars are added sugars.

False.  Naturally occurring sugars, such as those in fruit or milk, are not added sugars. There are many foods that we eat every day that are naturally sweet, which means they contain carbohydrates (sugars) as part of their chemical design. You can find a variety of added sugar ingredients listed on food labels including cane sugar, brown sugar, corn sweetener, corn syrup, evaporated cane juice, dextrose, fructose, glucose, high-fructose corn syrup, honey, invert sugar, malt syrup, maple syrup, molasses, raw sugar, sucrose, agave syrup, trehalose, and turbinado sugar (“sugar in the raw”), to name a few.

Most of us eat too much added sugar.

True.  In fact, most Americans exceed the recommendations for added sugars, consuming about 270 calories—nearly 17 teaspoons—of added sugars daily.

There is room to include limited amounts of added sugars in your diet.

True.  Healthy eating patterns limit added sugars, not eliminate them.  The Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2015-2020 recommend consuming less than 10 percent of total calories per day from added sugars—a limit of no more than about 12 teaspoons (50 grams) of sugar for a 2,000 calorie diet. And the American Heart Association recommends women limit added sugars to no more than 100 calories per day (about 6 teaspoons of sugar) and men, no more than 150 calories per day (about 9 teaspoons of sugar). While you may be thinking, “I never eat that much sugar”, keep in mind that the average 12 ounce soda contains about 10 teaspoons of added sugar.

Ready to turn your awareness into action?  Here are a few tips.

  1. Take inventory.  Do you know how much sugar you’re eating?  As a first step, identify any obvious sources of added sugars in your diet—like soda, candy, cookies, flavored coffee drinks, “sports drinks and bars” and dessert—and swap them for healthier, sugar-free or lower-sugar options.  Choose diet beverages, water/zero-calorie flavored water, and fruit as a naturally sweet treat.
  2. Cut back.  Read labels to compare the amounts of added sugars in foods, and choose less sweetened, lower-sugar versions. Try to find labels on foods that say “no added sugars”. For instance you will see this health notice on canned fruits, juice and many breakfast cereals. Limit sweet treats and reduce portion sizes; try cutting the amount of sugar in recipes by half.
  3. Create a sugar budget. Decide how you want to “spend” your daily added sugar allowance.  Making smart food and beverage choices that help you manage your sugar intake today is a good long-term investment for a healthier future!

Share in the comments section below how you plan to reduce sugar in your daily diet.

Health & Wellbeing
Put Your Best Fork Forward!
Sodexo Health & Wellness
Sodexo Health & Wellness

March is National Nutrition Month®, a nutrition education campaign hosted every year by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics—the world’s largest organization of food and nutrition professionals. This year’s theme, “Put Your Best Fork Forward,” is a reminder that each of us has the power to make better food and beverage choices that add up to a healthier diet—one forkful at a time.

While you’ve probably heard a lot about what you should eat, the message of “eating one forkful at time” also highlights the importance of the amount of food we eat.  In fact, how much we eat is one of the most important parts of building a healthy diet, and can affect your weight and risk for chronic diseases like heart disease, diabetes and cancer.

Here are some simple portion control strategies you can put into practice at your next meal to make every bite count, whether you’re eating out or at home.

Let your plate be your guide:  Visualize your plate in portions to help manage serving sizes as well as nutritional balance. Fill half your plate with fruits and vegetables, one quarter with a protein food (meat, poultry, seafood, beans and peas, eggs, soy products, nuts and seeds) and the remaining one quarter with a grain-based food (bread, pasta, rice, oatmeal), preferably whole grains, and add a serving size of dairy (one cup of milk or yogurt, or 1.5 ounces of natural cheese) to complete your meal.  Tip:  for more information about food groups, visit ChooseMyPlate.gov.

Give yourself a hand:  Instead of weighing food on a kitchen scale, use your hand as a simple measurement of food portions.  A serving of chicken, fish or beef is about the size and width of your palm.  A serving of starchy carbohydrates like pasta, potatoes, cereal and rice is about the size of a clenched fist (about 1 cup). A serving of butter is half a thumb; for salad dressing or oil, a whole thumb (about 1 tablespoon); and peanut butter, 2 thumbs’ worth (about 2 tablespoons).  A serving (one cup) of fruit or vegetables is about the size of a clenched fist.  Tip:  for personalized nutrition advice and meal planning, consult a registered dietitian nutritionist (RDN).

Downsize at the diner:  If you’re dining out, eating the right portion size can be tricky, as most entrées can serve 2-3 people.  Plan to split an entrée with a friend, or cut your meal in half when it arrives and put one half in a to-go box before you start eating.  If menu items are available in a variety of sizes, order the small size instead of a medium or large.  Tip: choose a healthy appetizer or salad rather than an entrée.

Read the label:  Many packaged foods actually contain multiple servings. For example, a 20-ounce bottle of soda contains 2.5 servings, and a 3-ounce bag of chips, 3 servings.  To manage the amount of calories and nutrients from foods and beverages you eat each day, check the Nutrition Facts label for the number of servings in the container.  Tip:  purchase single-serving sizes of snack foods or pre-portion healthy snacks like nuts, fruits and veggies into single-serving bags for a sensible grab-and-go option.

To learn more about healthy eating every day of the year, visit Sodexo’s Mindful site.

Health & Wellbeing
Love Your Heart
Sodexo Health & Wellness
Sodexo Health & Wellness

Not only is Valentine’s Day around the corner, but February is also American Heart Month. Heart disease remains the No. 1 cause of death in the U.S.. What better way to show how much you love your heart than by making heart-healthy food choices?  Here’s a simple checklist to help you eat for a healthier heart. (more…)