Sugar is a part of life, and it can make sweet moments even sweeter. That’s why we often enjoy a tasty treat as a way to celebrate. It can perk up a “blah” day or be used to reward yourself on a job well done. That being said, the adage of “everything in moderation” does ring true. Rewarding yourself for writing a to-do list when the first item is “write to-do list” may not be sweet-treat worthy.
The aim of a balanced diet isn’t to embark on a No-Sugar-For-Life mission. It’s understanding how naturally occurring sugars differ from the added sugars in the foods you eat and being confident in your healthy food choices. Foods that are naturally sweet, like strawberries, have no added sugars. On the other hand, foods that are processed, like strawberry fruit snacks, often have high amounts of added sugars. We know that’s not rocket science, but it’s nice to know that you can enjoy sweet flavours without instating an all-out sugar ban. Those naturally sweet foods contain other good-for-you vitamins, minerals, and nutrients—while foods with added sugars usually lack in that department.
How To Reduce Your Added Sugar Intake
Viewing sugar as the enemy discourages a healthy relationship with food. Learning about the benefits of cutting your added sugar intake can empower you to make nutritious and sustainable choices for your body.
Sugar is a simple carbohydrate your body converts into energy. However, added sugar lacks wholesome nutritional value and is often found in foods that contain solids, fats, and other unhealthy, highly processed ingredients (baked goods and candy, we’re looking at you!). Foods with added sugar can contribute to weight gain due to their caloric density, promote tooth decay through increased bacteria buildup, and increase your triglyceride levels, which can increase your risk of developing heart disease.
On average, men should consume no more than nine teaspoons (36 grams or 150 calories) of added sugar per day. Women should consume no more than six teaspoons (25 grams or 100 calories) per day, so it’s essential to understand where sugar intake can be cut back.
Read on to explore the ways you can reduce your added sugar intake.
1. Swap In Some Fruit
We know you want a little sugar in your bowl, so try swapping in some fruit for your sweet fix. Not only does fruit have a lot of water and fibre, but it provides more resistance while chewing. Slowing down allows you to feel fuller and gives more time for your body to digest. Your liver will love you because you’re giving it the time it needs to metabolize the naturally occurring sugar called fructose.
Some excellent fruit options that tend to be lower in sugar are:
2. Become A Label Reader
Sugar can be a master of disguise when it comes to packaged foods, so it’s important to read nutrition fact labels and ingredient lists. If we had a dollar for every name sugar goes by, we’d be rich.
Keep an eye out for these names that are code for added sugar:
- Crystalline fructose
- Diastatic malt
- Ethyl maltol
Look out for a variety of solid or granulated sugars such as brown sugar, cane sugar, corn syrup solids, raw sugar, and icing sugar. Also, be sure to spot the liquid or syrup sugars such as molasses, treacle, sorghum syrup, golden syrup, and high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS).
3. Slow Down On The Sauce
There’s nothing like a delicious sauce or condiment to pep up a meal. However, it can be the equivalent of singing “Pour Some Sugar On Me” as you waterfall teriyaki sauce over your stir-fry. The traditional Japanese sauce has evolved over the years to include brown sugar and pineapple juice, which means some brands contain 2 grams of added sugar per tablespoon. That may not sound like a lot, but it can add up quickly when you get dip-happy with your sauce.
Some other common sugary offenders are:
- Honey mustard
- Worcestershire sauce
- Barbecue sauce
- Light or fat-free salad dressings
- Sweet relish
- Hoisin sauce
- Marinara sauce
Knowing how much sugar is in your sauces and condiments helps you gauge the amount to squeeze onto your plate.
4. Cleanse The Culprits
Starting with a clean slate can help form good habits. If you’re looking to get to the root of the sugary source, consider doing a juice cleanse. Juices are packed full of natural sugars that come from fruits and vegetables. You’ll get a dose of vitamins and minerals along with the carbohydrates needed to fuel your body.
Pulp & Press Juice Cleanses don’t have any added sugar, so your body will be able to kick the cravings to the curb while getting a boost of necessary nutrients.
Reset your system with The Green Cleanse, which has been designed with low sugar content, helping reinvigorate your taste for natural sugars and experience fewer cravings.
5. So Long Soda
Smile and wave goodbye to your old friend, soda. Or pop. Whatever you call it, these fizzy drinks can have a whopping 4.2 grams of sugar in one teaspoon. You wouldn’t eat that much sugar, so why would you drink it? The repercussions of sugary drinks can have severe consequences on your health. It’s easy to lose track of how much you’re consuming, but those sips can lead to an increased risk of diabetes. In women, every cup of pop consumed each day increases the risk of diabetes by ten percent. That’s not a risk worth taking.
Try switching to flavoured soda water or crafting your own concoctions with fresh fruit and sparkling water. You’ll still get the fizz without all the added sugar!
6. Not So Sweet Sweeteners
No sugar tonight in my coffee, no sugar tonight in my tea. That goes for artificial sweeteners too! These sugar replacements go by the names of saccharin, acesulfame, aspartame, neotame, and sucralose. They boast the benefit of no calories with a sweet taste, but they are not so sweet after all. These too-good-to-be-true sweeteners have a host of risks. They can condition you to not associate sweetness with caloric intake, which means you may overconsume in other areas of your diet. You may justify unhealthy choices because it feels like that diet drink you had earlier didn’t count.
Non-nutritive sweeteners are so potent and concentrated that a small amount produces the same sweet taste. Overuse can highly stimulate the sugar receptors in your body, making natural sweetness and other flavours unappealing. Not cool! Make healthy swaps for added and fake sugar, and don’t miss out on all the fantastic flavours food has to offer.
(Added) Sugar, You’re Going Down!
Understanding where you can nix added sugar allows you to make healthier choices for your body—decoding labels, knowing your food’s sugar content, and being aware of the long-term effects of added sugar can all help set you up for success. Live your life, enjoying a balance between nutritious and tasty foods.