Health And Nutrition · My Life

Adventures in Pregnancy Week 21 + What is Added Sugar?

This last week my husband and I went to the doctor for an ultrasound, and we found out that we are having a little baby boy! I can barely believe that I am 21 weeks along. Although I am scared and nervous about being pregnant and giving birth, I am also excited and feel at peace despite the uncertainties. I want to be a mom, and I feel that the Lord will help me grow as I love and nurture our little one and continue to love+ my husband.

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I feel that this pregnancy is also helping me continue to establish a healthy relationship with food. I view food more as fuel, not as numbers. That is huge for me. I went on a walk with my husband the other night, and I was sharing what I have been feeling and learning throughout this pregnancy. I am grateful for his love and support.

Throughout my first trimester, I felt nauseous and had weird food cravings. Vegetables were the last thing I wanted. It was hard to find things I could eat without making me feel nauseous, but I was grateful I could still eat fruit and peanut butter and they settled well on my stomach.

Despite feeling nauseous all day, I tried my best to choose nutrient-dense foods and limit my intake of added sugar. During this time, I launched a Lower Intake of Added Sugar Challenge for a week on my KatsHealthCorner Facebook page. It was fun to implement it myself as well as reach out about what added sugar is. 

So, what is added sugar? 

All sugar is a simple carbohydrate the body uses as fuel. There is sugar found naturally in foods, such as fruits, vegetables, and dairy products. Added sugars are sugars and syrups added to foods during processing. These include honey, high-fructose corn syrup, agave nectar, table sugar, etc.

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From a biochemical perspective, sugar is sugar. For example, the glucose and fructose added to foods (such as in the table sugar added to fruit punch) are chemically identical to the glucose and fructose naturally found in an apple.

However, the apple is more than just sugar. It comes in a package with others substances (such as phytochemicals, as described by the American Institute for Cancer Research) and nutrients that are beneficial for the body’s health. These nutrients include potassium, which helps lower blood pressure (source: American Heart Association), and fiber, which helps keep bowel movement regular and stabilize blood glucose and blood cholesterol levels (source: MayoClinic).

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What makes added sugars different? Added sugars add calories with little other nutritional benefits. Higher intakes of added sugars are also associated with a higher risk for potential health problems, such as obesity, tooth decay, and poor nutrition (source: MayoClinic).

How can we lower our intake of added sugars?

The American Heart Association designed this infographic which shows sneaky places added sugars like to hide, as well as the recommended limit for intake of added sugar.  

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Copyright © 2018 American Heart Association, Healthy For GoodTM, heart.org/healthyforgood

Here are some other ideas to lower your intake of added sugars: 

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All in all added sugar isn’t “bad.” Life is supposed to be enjoyed. It is okay to have some added sugar but in small quantities. For example, I try to buy whole grain cereals with about 6 grams of sugar or less per serving. I try to eat fruit instead of desserts. However, I do enjoy a brownie or two once in a while. It is your everyday lifestyle and dietary intake over time that has the greatest impact on health. Life is a journey. We can find joy in the journey towards health.

Join me in lowering our intake of added sugars! 🙂

What is one way you will lower your intake of added sugars this week? 

4 thoughts on “Adventures in Pregnancy Week 21 + What is Added Sugar?

  1. Congratulations on your baby boy!

    I have a question… is something like date sugar a grey area? As I understand it date sugar is literally just ground up dates but does that make better or still as bad as a typical added sugar? I do understand that you are still adding something and adding any type of sugar should be limited. I just wondered on date sugar is different from a health impact standpoint.

    1. Hi Missy, thank you for your comment! We are excited about our little one coming. 🙂 In regards to your question about date sugar, here are my thoughts. Date sugar would probably be a little better than granulated white sugar, since it is ground up dates and still has a few nutrients in it, but the amounts of nutrients might still be small in comparison to the calories it provides. That is why honey, molasses, and fruit preserves all fall in the added sugar category. Therefore, like you mentioned, it might be a little better than other added sugars, but I would probably still try to use just small quantities of it. 🙂

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