Added sugar is addictive and unhealthy if you eat more than the recommended amount. But you can cut down on sugar if you follow some simple advice. Rule no. 1: don’t expect to give up sugar entirely on the first day! It’s a process that takes time, patience, and follow-through.
Cookies, cakes, candies, ice cream, sugary drinks, and smoothies. We were raised eating all these things and for many years we haven’t asked ourselves if they’re healthy. Do you think that if you are not sick, that means that eating sugary foods is not so bad? Wrong idea!
There are good sugars, the natural ones found in fruit and vegetables, and there are bad sugars, those that are added to foods. The most common added sugars are regular table sugar or high fructose corn syrup.
Added sugar can have harmful effects on metabolism and contribute to all sorts of diseases. It contains no essential nutrients, it’s bad for your teeth, can cause insulin resistance and diabetes, raise bad cholesterol, and can cause heart disease. Added sugar lacks nutrients and is heavy in calories that can lead to extra pounds or even obesity. Need more incentive to cut down on sugar? Well, it makes acne worse!
The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends limiting the amount of added sugars you consume to no more than half of your daily discretionary calories allowance. For most American women, that’s no more than 100 calories per day or about 6 teaspoons of sugar. For men, it’s 150 calories per day or about 9 teaspoons.
If you’re aware that it’s not good for you, you may want to cut down on sugar. It’s easier said than done; because sugar is addictive for many people.
5 ways to cut down on sugar
1. Slowly reduce the sugar in your diet
If you want to cut down on sugar, you have to make it step by step and be determined. Identify your primary source of sugar and start from there. Do you drink your coffee sweetened with one or two teaspoons of sugar? How about reducing it to half? Try drinking your coffee black or with less sugar. After doing this for one week, consider cutting down on the evening dessert. Next step: skip on your afternoon sweet treats.
In one month, your taste buds will adjust, and you’ll see that, at some point, even bananas are too sweet for you. You can replace the sugar in your diet with other things.
2. Read food labels
After you learn how to cut down on sugar by giving up sweetened coffee and packaged cookies, you’ll see that natural sugar from fruit and vegetables is enough for your body. But eating fewer sweets isn’t enough. Sugar is also hidden in foods such as bread, cereals, canned soups and vegetables, pasta sauce, instant mashed potatoes, frozen dinners, low-fat meals, fast food, and ketchup. Read labels when you’re buying food. We also suggest you avoid processed or packaged foods and eat real food as much as you can.
3. Be careful when eating out
When you’re in a hurry, you might buy sandwiches from a vending machine or fast food. But do you have any idea how much sugar is in that bread, ketchup, or mayo combo? Don’t fool yourself into thinking that those cucumber slices and lettuce are healthy! Sugar can even be hidden in turkey ham!
You should also be careful when you’re eating at restaurants. Ask the waiter what that steak sauce contains!
4. Eat healthier snacks
Once you learn what foods have hidden sugars, you can start making changes. Like buying foods and snacks labeled with “no added sugar” or “unsweetened.” For example, choose unsweetened cereal for breakfast and unsweetened yogurt for dinner! When it comes to snacks, buy fruit bars with no added sugar, raw nuts, or unsweetened dry fruit.
5. Make desserts at home
Does cutting down on sugar seem too hard? Don't get discouraged! That doesn’t mean that you are not allowed to spoil yourself a little bit! From time to time, you can have some sweet treats. Be wise and learn to make sweets at home instead of buying them!
Replace sugar with maple syrup, stevia, honey, or natural fruits like dates. Use different types of spices. You can try making desserts using vanilla extract, citrus zest, cocoa, cinnamon, nutmeg, or ginger.
In the beginning, cutting down on sugar can feel like an impossible task. Eventually, though, your body and taste buds will adapt. You won’t like to drink that extra sweetened frappe or to eat a whole slice of cake. You’ll satisfy your cravings in just two bites!