6 Simple Ways to Reduce Sugar In Your Diet.
What is the first thought that comes to mind when you think of sweets and desserts. Are you reminded of a special event? Maybe you dream of that amazing ice cream sundae you had last week? I have an amazing memory of visiting my grandparents at spring break. My grandparent always had one of those huge chocolate bunnies as a special treat waiting for my sister and I when we arrived. To this day when I see those bunnies in the store it makes me smile.
Sugar is highly desirable, we eat it and then we want more and more and more. It's a viscous cycle. Sugar is hidden in a lot of the foods we eat, and where we least suspect it. I'm sure you would be surprised if you start to look at packages to investigate if sugar is added to your favorite convenience foods.
Should You Consider Cutting Back On Sugar?
The daily intake of sugar as recommended by The American Heart Association (AHA) is 6 tsp. for women and 9 for men, whereas as a society we "consume an average of 77 grams (almost 20 teaspoons) of sugar per day, which adds up to around 60 pounds of added sugar per year, according to the American Heart Association (AHA)." * *
Sugar is just empty calories. Excess sugar offers nothing, nutritionally speaking. If you are trying to lose weight, maintain weight, reduce inflammation or simply live a healthier lifestyle monitoring your sugar consumption would be an excellent starting point.
Overconsuming sugar poses many health risks. It is linked to obesity which can cause Type 2 Diabetes, it is linked to heart disease, non alcoholic fatty liver disease and more. Reducing your sugar intake may help protect you from these serious health conditions and promote weight loss. *
You can reduce your sugar consumption with these 6 simple steps
1. Rethink your drink. Soft drinks are the worst offenders by far. A typical 12-ounce soda contains at least 8 teaspoons of added sugar, which alone is more than the daily recommendation for women and kids. Fruit juice is no better with approximately 5g of sugar per 8oz cup. Swap out the sugary stuff for water flavored with berries or cucumber or drink it plain. Grab a flavored seltzer, or try one sweetened with stevia. 2. Limit processed foods. Candy, cakes and cookies account for a significant amount of sugar intake, but so do some foods you might not suspect. Sugar is added to so many foods we don't even consider such as breads, pickles, condiments, yogurts and more. By eating more whole foods you leave less room for processed ones, meaning less added sugars in your diet. 3. Read nutrition labels. If the first ingredients listed are added sweeteners like sugar or high-fructose corn syrup or something that ends in -ose, consider a more nutritious option. Look at total grams of sugar and take note of the added sugars as well. When reading a label look at the ingredient list. Sugars go by many names and manufacturers use multiple options. Download my free guide, Sugar Sleuth (click to download) to learn more. 4. Make healthy substitutions. Instead of purchasing your usual yogurt, Greek yogurt sweetened with your own berries is a great low sugar option. In lieu of your favorite nut butter with added sugar, look for a lower or no sugar option. If you put sugar in your morning coffee, which can be a non negotiable for some, look to add less or try stevia, or monk fruit.
5. Make it yourself. When you cook at home, you control the sugar. Salad dressings are a big offender when it comes to added sugar. Try making your own with olive oil, vinegar and garlic a pinch of salt and no sugar Dijon ( if needed add a tsp of honey for sweetness). You will find how much better it tastes over the supermarket counterpart.
6. Progress over perfection. Set a goal you can stick with and make a plan. Saying you are going to eliminate all sugar isn't realistic, and certainly not sustainable! It's easy for fall for the sweet stuff but a plan helps maintain control. If you eat ice cream every night, make a plan to add berries with whipped cream 3 nights per week. If you like chocolate after your meal, try switching to a darker chocolate. Goals should be attainable or your won't stick to them.
When you see where sugar lurks in your diet, and set a commitment to yourself, changes happen. Healthier swaps in your diet will give you more energy, boost your mood, give you glowing skin and promote weight loss.
PS: If you struggle with cravings download my free guide to kicking them to the curb.