HERRIMAN — Most people know too much added sugar isn’t very good for us, but manufacturers are getting smart and sneaking it into everything. One Utah family is making a habit of reading labels and decreasing their sugar intake.
Seven-year-old Charlotte Hodges is an expert in the kitchen. Rather than ice cream or a slushy, she opts for an all-natural, fresh fruit smoothie — with no added sugars. It’s a commitment the Hodges family made about a year ago after Charlotte Hodges had some behavior challenges.
“She was having some pretty bad meltdowns,” her mother, Amy Hodges, explained.
However, after eliminating sugar from her diet, Amy Hodges said her behavior has seen a night and day difference. The family is making a habit of eating healthier together.
“Sugar’s hidden in everything… even by breakfast, she’s already had 100 grams of sugar,” Amy Hodges said.
Now she reads the labels on everything. “I’m the gatekeeper of my home. So if I don’t buy it… they’re not going to eat it,” Amy Hodges said.
Intermountain Healthcare’s Ashley Hagensick tells people to read through the lines. She said sugar is often disguised as things like barley malt, cane juice, and rice syrup.
Hagensick urges shoppers to be careful since often supposedly “healthy” foods like protein bars and juice could also be hiding added sugars.
Hagensick encourages families to watch out for added sugars in things like salad dressing, cereal, peanut butter, ketchup, and even yogurt. She said that’s an easy way to cut back.
She said studies have shown too much sugar consumption is directly linked to type 2 diabetes, obesity and heart disease. Hagensick recommends people limit their added sugar consumption to 25 grams per day.
She said elimination starts with first knowing how much you are consuming and identifying times throughout the day when you are tempted by sugar.
“Where is it in your day that you’re actually consuming the added sugar? Is it walking by someone’s office that keeps a bowl of candy on their desk?” Hagensick said.
She said keeping a food diary can help you realize how much you are taking in. Charlotte’s dad, Teddy Hodges, said his biggest weakness is fast food. He said he is getting out of the habit of driving through McDonald’s.
“I want a number one with a large Dr. Pepper,” he said.
If he has to eat out with co-workers at lunch, Teddy Hodges plans ahead. “I went out to eat for lunch today and I just knew what I wanted,” he explained.
Since starting the Keto diet and removing most added sugars from his diet, he has lost weight and said he feels like a better dad. “My energy is more consistent. I don’t have the highs and lows,” he said.
Now opting for something without sugar is an easy choice for the Hodges family. “Cause I’m used to it,” Charlotte Hodges said.
“Once you break that cycle of eating sugar every day, it’s kind of like, ‘Ehh?’” Teddy Hodges said. He said removing sugar from his diet is well worth the extra energy he feels to keep up with his kids.
“It’s just being able to play with the kids and being able to go out on (the) monkey bars and walk around the park,” Teddy Hodges said.