February 2019 Nutrition Challenge: Cut Sugar!

As part of our #fitnessisalifestyle campaign, I am going to create small nutrition challenges that you can work on each month! The goal isn’t perfection here.. it’s just to become a “little bit better” than you were yesterday. This is how we create new habits and lasting change. One small step at a time. Let’s use each other for motivation and new ideas!!

The challenge for FEBRUARY is:


Yep… it’s here… we’re talking about SUGAR this month. I wanted to keep this challenge as un-intimidating as possible so rather than say NO SUGAR, I’m simply asking for REDUCED SUGAR INTAKE. I’m asking for you to be AWARE of what you are doing now and take small steps to improve on that. This will look different for each of you depending on your starting point… just start somewhere 🙂

To be clear, I’m focusing on ‘Added Sugars’ here. The truth is, all carbs such as vegetables, fruits, sweet potatoes and oatmeal break down into sugar in the body. The difference is that these foods also contain fiber, vitamins and nutrients your body needs. For our challenge, we are focusing on added sugars in processed / packaged foods, sauces and condiments, drinks (alcohol too), baked goods and premade meals / restaurant foods.

What’s the big deal about sugar anyway? Sugar is high in calories, void of any nutritional value and easy to overconsume, which doesn’t make it a great choice if you’re trying to lose weight. Excess sugar intake promotes inflammation, can alter your hormones, affects your sleep, mood and your gut bacteria which can lead to various digestive problems. Sugar is also VERY addicting… it’s easy for high sugary foods to replace the fiber rich, high protein, more nutritious options in your diet. If you’ve ever done a Whole 30 or taken sugar out of your diet for a bit then you know just how good you can feel without it! Yet somehow, it finds its way back into your regular routine almost without you realizing. Once you start reducing your sugar intake however, you will notice a change in your palette. You will actually crave things like vegetables! Crazy, I know.

So how do we reduce our intake? Well, you need to start by being aware of what your current intake is! Start reading labels of the foods you consume on a daily basis. Aside from the obvious baked goods, sugar can hide in many foods that claim to be ‘healthy’. Things like cereals, breads, granola, ‘low calorie’ drinks, protein bars, yogurts, condiments (like ketchup) and dried fruits. Look for any of the following in the ingredients list: corn syrup or high-fructose corn syrup, dextrose or crystal dextrose, fructose, maltose, lactose, sucrose, glucose, evaporated cane juice or fruit juice, caramel, carob syrup, brown sugar, raw sugar, dextrin and maltodextrin, rice syrup, molasses, evaporated corn sweetener, confectioners powdered sugar, agave nectar and other fruit nectars. (List from https://draxe.com/hidden-sugar-foods/).

What about ‘healthier’ sugars like honey and maple syrup? They are still sugars. While they may be a slightly better option, don’t fool yourself into thinking they are ‘healthy’.

For this challenge, you can either go 120% and take out ALL added sugars OR take things in smaller steps and just begin to REDUCE what you have in a day. The key is going to be PLANNING. We usually crave high sugar foods when we are tired, bored or starving.. so to help, have plenty of better options on hand! Here are some of my fav’s:

  • Veggies and hummus or guacamole
  • Peanut butter/ nut butter with rice cakes or crackers (try these)
  • Fresh fruit
  • Olives
  • Jerky (try this brand)
  • Seaweed snacks
  • Avocado and hard boiled egg
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Canned oysters, clams, tuna or salmon
  • Cocoroons*  these do have a little maple syrup, but good if you’re looking for a lower sugar swap

** And a quick google search for ‘no sugar’ lunches, dinners, treats, etc will provide many recipe options!

If you need more ideas, or help with a place to start… please reach out. I got you 🙂

Make sure to log your results on SugarWod each Monday and don’t forget to use #fitnessisalifestyle and #diablocrossfit when posting your successes or comments on Facebook and Instagram.

Written by: Coach Jennifer Ismar