Sugar - not so sweet?
We all know how delicious sugar is whether it's in your morning coffee, that mid-afternoon piece of chocolate or the decadent dessert. While tasty, eating too much excess sugar on a regular basis can have health risks. The daily recommendations for added sugar is no more than 25 grams per day, and many adults get far more than that, up to 24 teaspoons per DAY of added sugar or almost 400 extra calories.
Added sugar in foods contains no nutrients, can cause weight gain, raise cholesterol, blood pressure, lead to chronic inflammation and cause issues with blood sugar maintenance. A study in JAMA Internal Medicine found that "people who got 17% to 21% of their calories from added sugar had a 38% higher risk of dying from cardiovascular disease compared with those who consumed 8% of their calories as added sugar."(1)
So what is added sugar? Added sugar is anything that’s been added to food and doesn’t include naturally occurring sugars like those in fruit, dairy and even vegetables. Stocking your pantry with these foods is a no brainer and you don't have to worry about the sugar present in these foods since they come along side vitamins, minerals and fiber. How to know if your food has added sugar? A good rule of thumb is to stick to whole foods, but check the label on products, if sugar is listed in the ingredients - it’s in there.
Maybe you already avoid the obvious sugar culprits but you might be surprised at much how sugar is in other foods you eat on regular basis. If you’re interested in cutting down on added sugar, here are some ways to do it and feel better in the process.
5 Ways to Eat Less Sugar
Educate yourself : Like we talked about, avoiding processed foods is the first step, but the second step is checking the label if you do eat these foods. Sugar can come in many forms, check out this list of different names of sugar so you know what you’re looking for : https://www.thecandidadiet.com/56-names-sugar-eating-realize/
Avoid drinking your sugar : Beverages can have more sugar than you’d think. Many packaged juices contain 30-40 grams of sugar per serving and a grande vanilla latte packs 35 grams of sugar. When sugar is consumed in this way, our brain doesn’t automatically register the calories or sugar and it doesn’t seem as fulfilling as a piece of cake but can still spike your blood sugar in the same way.
Choose unsweetened versions : A lot of yogurts and non-dairy milks come in both unsweetened and “regular”. Make sure to check the label and opt for unsweetened, you most likely won’t notice the difference in taste but can skim some sugar off your day.
Pick fresh : Choosing fresh fruit over dried fruit will leaving you feeling more full and are less likely to alter blood sugar dramatically because of the fiber and water. Also, many dried fruits contain added sugars or syrups.
Don’t fear fat : Often when you feel like something sweet what you’re really looking for is energy. Choosing a snack with some healthy fat, and a bit of protein will be more satisfying in the long run and give you more energy. Try a tablespoon of peanut butter with half an apple or some cheese and a couple whole grain crackers.
It may seem daunting at first, but sugar can be addictive so slowly cutting it out can help retrain your palate and leave you feeling more energized and sleeping better. Let us know if you have any other tips that have helped you limit added sugars!
1. Harvard Health Publishing. “The Sweet Danger of Sugar.” Harvard Health Blog, Harvard Health Publishing, www.health.harvard.edu/heart-health/the-sweet-danger-of-sugar.