Most people love sugar. It’s sweet, great for giving us spikes in energy, and a wonderful 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 sugar could increase your risk of heart disease, acne, diabetes, and even certain kinds of cancer?
As studies continue to emerge into the potential dangers of sugar, it’s never been more important for people to start thinking about changing their diet.
Here are some quick and simple tips to reduce your risk of consuming too much sugar on a day-to-day basis.
Outside of water, most of the drinks we consume on a daily basis contain some amount of sugar—even if you’re not aware of it.
Soda and fruit juices are packed full of sugar, which adds to your daily calorie intake. While there are some “zero sugar” options out there, it’s also worth keeping an eye out for additives which 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, and 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 amount of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants you get, without the excess sugar.
Check Sauce Labels
We often expect to deal with added sugar in 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 single tablespoon of ketchup can contain around 5 grams of sugar, which makes it more sugary than ice cream!
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, consider pesto, mustard, chili, herbs and spices, and even citrus fruit juices like lemon and lime.
Forget Low-Fat Foods
This 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 to 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 around 104 calories. The same kind of low-fat yogurt could contain up to 144 calories and 24 grams of sugar.
To ensure you’re really making the healthy choice with your food, read the label and double-check everything. You can usually compare 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 actually don’t have the same benefits of a less healthy-looking breakfast. There are tons of “natural” and healthy granola and protein bars which 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 full of natural sugar in concentrated levels.
Some varieties of breakfast bars are also candied with added sugar, which means you get a higher 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.