A Quick Guide for Cutting Down on Sugar

A Quick Guide for Cutting Down on Sugar ~ Learn the dangers of total and added sugars.

Cutting Down on Sugar

Cutting down on sugar is a great start to improving your overall health. Most people love sugar.It’s sweet, great for giving us spikes in energy, and a fantastic way to indulge in something special when you want a treat.

Unfortunately, as great as sugar might taste, it’s not so great for your health. Added sugars are responsible for around 17% of the total calorie intake of adults in the US, and all that sugar leads to weight gain.

If extra weight around the hips isn’t enough to put you off sugar, how about the fact that eating too much sugarcould increase your risk of heart disease, acne, diabetes, and even certain kinds of cancer?

Not only does added sugar contribute to uncontrollable weight gain; it also can lead to hypertension (high blood pressure), insulin resistance, cardiovascular disease, and more.

As studies continue to emerge into the potential dangers of sugar, it’s never been more critical for people to start thinking about changing their diet.

Today, we’re going to cover some quick and simple tips to reduce your risk of consuming too much sugar on a day-to-day basis.

Americans consume far too much sugar, with the top sources being fruit drinks, soft drinks, cereals, flavored yogurts, cakes, cookies, candy, and most processed foods. According to a recent report by Havard Medical School, men consume about 24 teaspoons of sugar per day—equating to approximately 400 empty calories.

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Drink Water

Outside of water, most of the daily drinks contain some amount of sugar – even if you’re not aware of it.

Soda and fruit juices are packed full of sugar, adding to your daily calorie intake. While there are some “zero sugar” options out there, it’s also worth keeping an eye out for additives that might be detrimental to your health in these substitutes.

The best way to cut down on the amount of sugar you drink is to switch your soda, sugar-laden coffees, and other beverages with a refreshing glass of water. Water is more likely to quench your thirst than any other drink, and it can even give you an energy boost by reducing dehydration.

Try Alternative Desserts

There’s nothing wrong with indulging in a dessert from time to time, but it’s important to remember these foods don’t provide much nutritional value.

Most desserts are packed full of sugar, which causes spikes in your blood sugar content, which leaves you feeling hungry and tired.

Desserts made with grain and dairy, like pies, ice cream, and doughnuts, also account for more than 18% of the added sugar in your diet.

The best way to replace your desserts and still handle your sweet tooth is to enjoy some fruit. Fresh and baked fruits increase the number of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants you get, without the excess sugar. Also, nuts, such as walnuts, almonds, pistachios, and more, are healthy alternatives to sugar-laden foods.

Check Sauce Labels

We often expect to deal with added sugarin sodas and desserts, but sugar can also hide in other foods that you may not be as aware of.

For instance, sauces like ketchup and barbecue sauce are high in sugar. One tablespoon of ketchup can contain around 5 grams of sugar, making it sugarier than ice cream! It is processed foods like sauces where food manufacturers sneak in added sugar. Not only does sugar appeal to the taste buds, but it is highly addictive. It is one way that food manufacturers get you to continue purchasing and consuming their products.

Look for condiments with “no added sugar” on the labels to reduce your intake of the sweet stuff in these products.

You can also look for alternative ways to season your foods and delight your taste buds. For instance, look at pesto, mustard, chili, herbs and spices, and even citrus fruit juices like lemon and lime. Many spices and herbs will also possess healing qualities that can improve your overall health.

Forget Low-Fat Foods

The following statement might seem like an odd suggestion, but low-fat varieties of food aren’t always ideal for your sugar intake. Though some low-fat solutions can help you lose weight, many actually contain more sugar than their full-fat counterparts.

For instance, a full-fat plain yogurt will usually contain around 8 grams of naturally occurring milk sugars and about 104 calories. The same kind of low-fat yogurt could contain up to 144 calories and 24 grams of sugar.

To ensure you’re making the healthy choice with your food, read the label and double-check everything. You can usually compare food labels quite quickly, either in the store or by looking up what you want to eat online.

Be Careful with “Healthy” Snack Foods

Finally, some processed foods look healthy at first glance but don’t have the same benefits as a less healthy-looking breakfast. There are tons of “natural” and healthy granola and protein bars that contain as much sugar as your standard candy bar.

For instance, dried fruit is fantastic for nutrients, antioxidants, and fiber, but it’s also packed with natural sugar at concentrated levels.

Some breakfast bars are also candied with added sugar, which means you get a greater sweetness boost and a worse sugar hangover later.

Ensure that you check the ingredients on any snack food or breakfast food you’re eating.

If you’re running out of ideas for sugar-free alternatives, you can always try things like fresh fruit, which has less concentrated sugar. Other options include hard-boiled eggs, jerky with no sugar added to the seasoning, and various kinds of nuts and seeds.

Reducing the sugar in your diet might seem like a challenge, but it can be much simpler than you’d think! Try these tips and enjoy life without all the sugar.

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Azais-Braesco, V., Sluik, D., Maillot, M., Kok, F., & Moreno, L. A. (2017). A review of total & added sugar intake and dietary sources in Europe. National Library of Medicine, 16(1):6. doi: 10.1186/s12937-016-0225-2.

Drewnowski, A., & Rehm, C. D. (2014). Consuption of added sugards among US children and adults by food purchase location and food source. National Center of Biotechnology Information, 100(3):901-7. doi: 10.3945/ajcn.114.089458.

Staff, E. (2019). Food Data on Nutritional Value. U.S. Department of Agriculture Agricultural Research Service, FDC ID: 170888 NDB Number:1119.

Staff, E. (2022). The Sweet Danger of Sugar. Havard Health Publishing ~ Havard Medical School.

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