Orange sitting on an orange table with a light blue background

Y No Sugar?

By Kris Lev-Twombly, CEO of California State Alliance of YMCAS

From November 8 through the 15, YMCAs in California are partnering with Eat Real Certified in a statewide 7 Day Sugar Challenge. We’re engaging YMCA members, staff, boards of directors, elected officials, community partners and all Californians to participate in cutting added sugars from their diets for a full week.

Creating a community around this challenge gives a common health seeking experience by coming together for the health of our state. We hope to build a lasting movement to take control of our consumer choices and our long-term health.

But why?

It’s no secret that a high-sugar diet is not a good one. But there’s more to the 7 Day Sugar Challenge than simply curbing our sweet tooth.

The reality is that added dietary sugar has become ubiquitous in the United States. It’s everywhere. Soda is the highest source of added sugar in our diets, hands down. But it also creeps into our diets through processed foods, condiments, sauces, and breads, to name a few.

The impact of the rise in sugar in American diets is profound, and it tracks in line with an increase in metabolic syndrome and a decline in the overall health of Americans, regardless of sedentary or active lifestyles.

It’s bad but there is hope. Not without barriers, but that hope is within our control.

The change starts with each of us, applying as much intention as we can to what we put in our bodies. We are what we eat, and nothing goes in without effect. The sum of our individual actions will equal our community health.

Unfortunately, this is much easier said than done. Our consumer choices are shaped by what is available to us, influenced by income, location, transportation and many other factors. The odds are stacked against us, shaped by economics and public policy, and these odds are disproportionately stacked against low-income communities and communities of color.

So what can we do?

A LOT! It starts with awareness: being aware of the problem for oneself and for one’s community. That awareness creates commitment. A commitment to fix the problem, to take control of one’s own metabolic health and support changes that will help others as well.

Taking the 7 Day Sugar Challenge is a great starting point. It will bring to light the internal and external challenges we face in controlling the sugar in our diets, and it will show us how much better we feel when we do! Even if we can’t completely cut out sugar, we’re making a positive difference in the right direction.

Challenge yourself. Challenge your friends and family. Let’s experience the satisfaction and struggle together. And then let’s channel that awareness and make a lasting difference in our community health.

Together we can advocate for public policies that ensure healthy consumer choices for all. We can advocate for real, healthy food in our public systems—schools, care facilities, prisons—because we know that individual health equals community health, and that impacts all of us.

We can shape food systems by rejecting unhealthy products and embracing real food and healthy beverages. We can advocate for equitable, safe access to recreation and physical activity opportunities for people of all ages and abilities, so we can get and stay healthy.

The Y is a place where people come together in community for healthy mind, body and spirit. This lives beyond the walls of Y facilities. Even if you’re not a Y member or participating in a Y program, we invite you to consider yourself part of the Y. This 7 Day Sugar Challenge is a great way to start so sign up today to take the challenge!

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