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Published on July 17, 2015

Local health experts discuss ways to curb sugar cravings, live a healthier lifestyle

Written by 6News, Lawrence reporter Amina Smith

Back in March, the World Health Organization issued a report recommending that people reduce their sugar intake by 10 percent, but here in the U.S. people are still consuming sweets at astounding rates.

"When you eat a lot of sugar it releases a hormone in your body called serotonin which kind of gives a calming feel-good effect, and then when it [your body] doesn't have them it wants them. And so it will give us major cravings," said Lawrence Memorial Hospital Community Education Coordinator Aynsley Anderson.

Curbing those cravings begins with knowing what's in your food and drinks.

"Food labels can be a little deceptive. One of the first things people need to look for is, of course, the number of servings in that product. Sometimes you may think there's only one serving when actually it's two and a half," said Anderson.

Having a strategy to reduce your sugar intake is also critical.

"Instead of giving it up cold turkey it might be better to gradually lean down. If you're used to having three cookies a day maybe try to tell yourself to cut down [to] one cookie a day," said Linda Rippetoe, WIC Dietician at the Lawrence-Douglas County Health Department.

Reaching for natural sugars like fruits, instead of artificial ones found in candy or soft drinks can help too.

"Maybe add some berries or peaches. They're the natural sugars and they're providing nutrients," said Rippetoe.

"It meets that sweet need that you have, but at the same time you're not getting the added sugars [and] extra calories," said Aynsley.

Here locally, officials at Lawrence Memorial Hospital are looking to be a part of the solution.

"We started a stop light system. Red beverages are those that you should not drink very much, if at all. Yellow beverages are those that should be taken in moderation, and green beverages have all you want," said Aynsley.

LMH's Healthier Living Initiative started in early July with the goal of offering healthier beverage options in their cafeteria. The program is currently in its first phase, and will go on to include food items in the near future.

Watch the 6News story on LMH's Healthier Living Initiative here.

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