Cutting down on sugar can have many beneficial health outcomes, such as weight loss, prevention of tooth decay, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, cancer and reduction of high blood sugar levels among many others.
Reducing sugar consumption can also help break the unhelpful cycle of cravings that high sugar consumption can create. Eating too much sugar is probably one of the worst things you can do to your body. It can have many negative effects on your health.
“Eat less sugar.” You’ve seen it. You’ve heard it. It’s the social buzz nowadays, but it’s not always that easy. When it comes to how to stop eating added sugar, how do we know when too much is just too much?
Added sugar is often hidden in certain places you’d least expect. Look out for products such as “wholesome” bread, “power” snack bar or “post-workout” smoothies. It may be just the reason you can’t get that flat belly you’ve been working on.
But hold on, because there’s also some good news in this. It is ABSOLUTELY possible to cut back on added sugar! To help you do this, I’ve assembled a list of trouble-free ways for how to stop consuming sugar without having to give up the pleasure of eating all your favorite foods. Great news right?
For starters, it is not always easy to know precisely how much sugar we are eating, which makes it quite difficult to cut back. Following these 5 easy steps to take control of your sugar ingestion and take on a low-sugar diet may be helpful.
While sugar is naturally found in foods like fruits and vegetables, this type has little effect on your blood sugar and is considered very healthy. Moreover, consuming fruits and vegetables which contain lots of vitamins and minerals keeps you healthy and well nourished.
The danger lies in all those added sugars that we don’t see in products such as processed foods.
Nowadays, the standard human consumes around 17 teaspoons (68 grams) of added sugar per day. This is so much more than the common daily amount that some experts recommend, which is 6 teaspoons (25 grams) for women and 9 teaspoons (37 grams) for men.
So, let’s move on to the sweet success! These 5 simple steps will lead you to trimming down the excess sugar in your diet for good…
Many popular drinks contain a huge amount of added sugar.
Sodas, energy drinks, sports drinks and fruit drinks add a whopping 44% of the quantity of sugar in a standard diet.
So-called “healthy” drinks, such as store-bought smoothies and fruit juices, can still be full of astonishing amounts of it too. As a result, homemade is so much better or just check the ingredients before purchasing.
For instance, 15.2 ounces (450 ml) of 100% apple juice contains more than 12 teaspoons (49 grams) of sugar. A smarter choice is to eat the fruit as a whole product and not just the juice.
Your body does not recognize calories from drinks in the same way it does from food. Drinks don’t make you feel as full, so people who consume lots of calories from drinks usually do not eat less to compensate for those extra calories.
Studies have consistently shown that reducing your intake of sugar loaded drinks can help with weight loss.
Here are some healthier choices:
- Water: It’s calorie free.
- Sparkling water: try with a squeeze of fresh lemon or lime juice.
- Infused water: Super refreshing with herbs and fruit. Check out my amazing recipes for infused water!
- Herbal or fruit teas: Drink them hot or cold.
- Tea and coffee: unsweetened matcha, green, or black tea and espresso or flat white coffee.
Cutting back on sugary drinks can massively reduce your sugar intake and help you lose weight.
Many desserts don’t provide much in the way of nutritional value.
They are loaded with sugar, which causes blood sugar spikes and can leave you feeling tired, hungry and craving even more sugar.
If you really feel the need for something sweet, try these alternatives:
- Fresh fruit: Naturally sweet and full of fiber, vitamins and minerals.
- Greek yogurt with cinnamon or fruit: Rich in calcium, protein and vitamin B12.
- Baked fruit with cream: Try pears, apple or plums.
- Dark chocolate: In general, the higher the cocoa content, the lower the sugar.
- A handful of dates: They’re naturally sweet and extremely nutritious.
- Home-made healthy versions of baked goods and sweets
Swapping sugar-heavy desserts for fresh or baked fruit not only reduces your sugar intake, it also increases the fiber, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants in your diet.
Sauces such as ketchup, barbecue sauce and sriracha sauce are common in most kitchens. However, most people aren’t aware of their shocking sugar content.
A single tablespoon (15-gram) serving of ketchup may contain 1 teaspoon (4 grams) of sugar.
Although, some varieties have no added sugar. Always read the nutrition label to be sure you are choosing the lowest-sugar option.
Here are some other more nutritious options to flavor your food:
- Fresh or dried herbs and spices: Contain no sugar or calories and can have added health benefits.
- Fresh chili: Gives your food a hot and spicy kick.
- Yellow mustard: Yummy and contains practically no sugar or calories.
- Vinegar: Sugar and calorie-free, with a punch similar to that of ketchup. Careful though because some balsamic vinegars and creams may contain sugar. Always check nutrition labels!
- Harissa paste: Can be bought or made and is a good replacement for sweet chili sauce.
- Pesto: Fresh and nutty. It’s excellent on pasta but also on sandwiches, salads and wraps!
- Mayonnaise: Much better if it’s homemade. Be sure to check nutrition labels if it’s store bought although it should be sugar-free. It’s also high in fat, so be cautious if you’re trying to lose weight.
Common table sauces can contain a shocking amount of sugar. Always read the label to make sure you choose sugar-free options or use herbs and spices to flavor your food.
Whole foods are foods that have not been processed or refined. They also do not contain any additives or other artificial substances.
On the other hand, ultra-processed foods are prepared foods that contain salt, sugar, fats and substances not normally used in homemade meals.
These substances can be artificial flavors, colors, emulsifiers or other additives. Examples of ultra-processed foods are soft drinks, desserts, cereals, pizzas and pies.
Ultra-processed foods vary from average processed foods, which generally only have a few ingredients added. Some examples of ordinary processed foods are as simple as bread and cheese.
Furthermore, apparent healthy options like canned tomato sauce can also contain shocking amounts of sugar and salt. One serving (128 grams) can contain nearly 3 teaspoons (11 grams). So again, be sure to check the labels.
In conclusion, you should attempt to cook from scratch when possible to avoid added sugars. Now, don’t think that you have to cook complex meals. Simple tips like marinating your meat and fish in herbs, spices and extra virgin olive oil can result in very tasty dishes.
Whole foods are free of added sugar and other additives commonly found in processed foods. Eating more whole foods and cooking from scratch will reduce your sugar intake significantly.
You can also try these nutritious and healthy snack ideas as an alternative:
- A handful of nuts: Packed with hearty nutrients such as protein and healthy fats.
- Trail mix: Make sure it’s just nuts, seeds and dried fruit, without added sugar. Check out my healthy granola recipe!
- Hard-boiled eggs: This super-food is high in protein, vitamins and minerals.
- Fresh fruit: Contains natural sugar which can help satisfy sugar cravings.
- Don’t be tricked by the “healthy” marketing messages on some snacks.
- Be prepared and take natural and low-sugar snacks with you when you’re travelling or working.
For more healthy tips and scrumptious recipes, check out my social media…and remember to stay healthy!