You might not know it, but sugar has a way of sneaking up on you, even in a healthier diet. Having too much sugar in your diet can hurt your health, including adding to obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart diseases, and cancer. The added sugars that come with processed foods is something you need to be aware of, so here are 10 tips for cutting down on sugar.
American typically consume around 17 teaspoons of added sugar per day, which is more than the daily recommended limit of 6 teaspoons. If you’re worried about your sugar intake, here are a few simple ways to cut back.
1. Watch Sauces
Some of our favorite sauces can be loaded with added sugars. This includes ketchup, BBQ sauce, and chili sauces. One tablespoon of your favorite sauce can contain at least one teaspoon of sugar. Make sure to read the label to see how much-added sugar is included per servings. You can try to find your favorites in sugar-free options, or better yet, make your own.
2. Cut Down on Sugar Drinks
Drinks like soda, coffee, and sports drinks all contain a ton of added sugar. Drinks like these are said to contribute to 44% of the added sugar in an American diet. Even drinks labeled healthy can contain these added sugars that consumers aren’t aware of. Try to limit your drinks with added sugar and reach for other options like water, sparkling water, and teas.
3. Try Whole Foods – 10 Tips for Cutting Down on Sugar
Whole foods are great for your diet and have not been processed or refined. Ultra-processed foods help contribute up to 90% of added sugars in an American’s diet, and it’s not just junk food that is the culprit. Healthier options like canned pasta sauce can contain an alarming amount of added sugar. If possible, try to cook from scratch to avoid any added sugars. You can even make it a fun family event.
4. Watch Healthy Snacks
If you’re trying to watch your diet, words like “healthy” might seem appealing when looking for snacks. Healthier snacks like granola bars, trail mix, protein bars, and dried fruit can be loaded with added sugars. Even more shocking, the amount of sugar can add up to the same in a chocolate bar. Look for options that say 100% fruit, or look out for nuts, no-sugar-added jerky, eggs, and fresh fruit.
5. Read Labels
This is an important one for health in general. Checking the label to see what is in your foods is essential to your health. Watch out for the following:
- High-fructose corn syrup
- Cane sugar or juice
- Invert sugar
- Rice syrup
These are all different ways of saying sugar, and there can be up to 50 other words to describe sugar. The FDA decided to step into this issue and has changed the rules for companies to ensure they show the amount of added sugar in their products, which will help consumers identify it easier.
6. Load Your Diet with Protein and Fat – 10 Tips for Cutting Down on Sugar
Sugar is found in carbs, so combat that with a diet rich in protein and fat. Adding more protein to your diet will have to reduce food cravings and make you fuller. It has been shown that fructose has the opposite effect and increases your appetite. Eating more protein and fat will help curb your sugar cravings and if you do want a snack, turn to eggs, avocados, nuts, or meats.
7. Get Enough Sleep
It sounds weird to talk about sleep and sugar, but the two go hand in hand. Studies have shown that when we don’t sleep enough, the body craves higher calorie foods that are sweet and salty. People are more likely to reach for a soda or junk food when they didn’t get a whole night’s rest, and it can also impair their decision making. Try catching a few more hours of rest to lower that sugar intake.
8. Check Your Canned Foods
Consumers love buying canned foods because they’re inexpensive and easy to use, but some can contain a high amount of added sugar. Watch for canned foods packed in syrup or have sugar on the ingredient list. Instead, look for labels with “no sugar added” or “in own juice” to get away from the added sugar. If you happen to have canned goods with added sugars, try to remove some of them by rinsing them in water before you eat them.
9. Be Smart About Dessert
We all love a good dessert, but we also know it is loaded with added sugars that can cause our blood sugar to spike. Now we aren’t saying give up your favorite desserts but make sure to eat them in moderation and try adding healthier options as well. Foods like fruit, Greek yogurt, baked fruits, dark chocolate, and dates can all serve as a great dessert that will leave you feeling satisfied.
10. Keep it Out of the House
The easiest way to stop eating added sugars is not to have them around. Willpower is a hard thing when it comes to hunger and cravings, and by eliminating the amount of added sugar in your house, the easier it will be not to eat it. Now that seems easier said than done, and you can also use tools to distract yourself when craving items like ice cream or chips. Try taking a walk or doing a puzzle and if you’re still craving something sweet, try to reach for a healthier option.
Reducing your sugar intake can be difficult, and the bottom line is to read your labels and know what you’re consuming. Lessening added sugars also can’t happen overnight. It is a process you’ll work towards, and gradually, you will find it becoming easier to reach for healthier options or making your own food.