Novant Health program helps participants cut added sugars

Published 1:54 pm Thursday, April 28, 2016

SALISBURY – Pam Chisholm, a 65-year-old resident of North Carolina, keeps something on her at all times just in case she needs it. There’s a backup in her glovebox, in her purse and in a desk drawer at work. Pam is addicted to chocolate – and it’s quickly spiraling out of control.

Sweet Retreat, Novant Health’s first online nutritional program, will give participants a 10-day plan to cut all added sugar from their diets. Registration started on Monday, April 18, and the first round of the program will begin on Monday, May 2, with another round starting Monday, May 16.

Participants can register at no cost at to receive meal plans and daily emails from Novant Health dietitian Alice Smith. Throughout the challenge, Smith will provide tips and tricks in her daily emails, along with supportive blog posts and delicious healthy recipes found on the website.

The program’s mission is to have participants cut added sugar out of their diets to create a healthier lifestyle. Added sugars are those that are added to foods, the most common being regular table sugar and high fructose corn syrup. Both have been associated with health conditions such as diabetes, obesity and heart disease.

“Studies have indicated that cutting added sugar from your diet can be quite beneficial for your health, which is why we are so excited about launching Sweet Retreat in support of promoting healthy lifestyles,” Smith said.

According to the American Heart Association, men should consume no more than 150 calories of added sugar per day, which is 36 grams or 9 teaspoons. Women should consume no more than 100 calories of added sugar per day, which translates to 24 grams or 6 teaspoons. On average, Americans eat 20 teaspoons (84 grams) of added sugar every day, the equivalent of 320 calories. Just one 12-ounce can of soda contains 39 grams of sugar or a little over 9 teaspoons of sugar.

“I knew I was addicted to sugar before I started the 10-day fast, but I realized during the challenge that most of my need for sugar was the result of really bad habits,” Chisolm said. “As I tried to eliminate sugar from my diet, I was shocked to learn that most of the products I purchased as groceries contained added sugar.”

“Giving up added sugar for 10 days was a really difficult thing to do, but successfully doing so produced the best results in my dietary efforts for weight loss,” she added. “I never realized how much added sugars are in the packaged foods we buy until I decided to eliminate sugar. Agreeing to give it up for 10 days was one of the best decisions I have ever made. I learned that I can do it.”

Sweet Retreat, which is a part of Novant Health’s Remarkable You initiative, is free and open to the public. Novant Health officials recommend that you consult with your health care provider prior to starting this or any nutrition program. Participants are encouraged to share their journey on social media by tagging #SweetRetreat. Certificates will be awarded to those who complete the challenge.