More and more research is showing that eating too much sugar makes us fat and destroys our health, and at 22 teaspoons per day, the average American definitely eats too much. If one of your New Year’s Resolutions this year is to lose weight, it’s definitely wise to cut down on the sweet stuff. But even if you’re already at a healthy weight, cutting down on sugar is a good idea, as excess sugar consumption has also been linked to diabetes, heart disease, metabolic problems, and even cancer. Here’s 10 ways to eat less sugar in 2015.
Undestand what sugar does to your body
If you don’t fully understand the devastating impacts that sugar can have, it is time to learn. Not only can excess sugar build up in the liver leading to non-fatty liver disease, but it can also cause insulin resistance, obesity, depression and inflammation.
Give up sweetened drinks
Soda is only the beginning; you also need to cut out non-fresh juice, sweet tea, lemonade, punch—any beverage with added sugar. Just because it has a picture of a fruit on it does not mean it doesn’t have added sugar!
It’s shocking how many packaged foods contain sugar—even foods that aren’t supposed to be sweet! Packaged bread, canned soup, bouillon packets, spaghetti sauce, salad dressing, crackers, cereal…you name it! All these and more might contain sugar. Always check labels so you know what you’re really consuming.
Cut down on processed and packaged foods
Since sugar is hidden in a lot of packaged foods, cooking your own food naturally decreases the amount of sugar you consume. When you make meals and desserts yourself and actually see how much sugar you’re using, you’re less likely to want as much.
Familiarize yourself with sugar’s many code names
Just because it doesn’t say ‘sugar’ on the ingredients list doesn’t mean it’s not in there. Keep an eye out for the following terms: high fructose corn syrup, corn syrup, maltose, fructose, dextrose, honey, molasses, agave, brown rice syrup, cane sugar, cane syrup, evaporated cane juice. Although some of these are ‘healthier’ than sugar in the sense that they’re less refined, in the end, eating 22 tsp. per day of honey is probably not that much better for you than eating the equivalent amount of white sugar, so try to cut down your intake of sugar substitutes as well.
Eat more naturally sweet foods
When we talk about reducing our sugar intake, we’re talking about reducing our added sugar intake, not the sweetness associated with, for example, fruits. If you’re used to having a sweet dessert at night, replace it with some fruit and plain yogurt or coconut milk.
Snack on foods high in fat and protein throughout the day
Foods with fat and protein take longer to digest, keep you satisfied longer, and don’t cause spikes in blood sugar. Fruit with nut butter, a hard boiled egg, tuna salad with olive oil or plain Greek yogurt are all examples of snacks that can prevent cravings later on.
Being sleep deprived leads to cravings for sweet, high calorie foods, as your body wants to regain the energy it should be getting through sleep. Get 7-9 hours per night to avoid this!
Eat enough before you go somewhere with many sweet treats
Being hungry at the supermarket can ruin even the best intentions. Eating a complete meal of protein, fat, and complex carbohydrates like vegetables beforehand will keep you satisfied and help you make healthy choices when you’re grocery shopping, out to eat with friends, or when your boss brings in donuts to work.
Avoid Low Fat Products Entirely
Although usually marketed as a healthier option, these products are usually filled with sugar to make up for the fact that all flavor is lost when the fat is removed. Eat full fat, unsweetened products instead.
Understand how much is too much
Most of us eat enough sugar in a day without knowing it but do you know how much is too much? The American Heart Association tells us that women should consume no more than six teaspoons ( 25 grams) of sugar a day and men nine ( 38 grams). That can add up pretty quickly so it takes effort to keep track.
Mentally Prepare Yourself
Sugar is addictive, and it’s had most of us hooked for years. Like any addiction, it takes time, discipline, and support for those around you to completely break it. Remember to be patient and compassionate with yourself as you undergo this lifestyle change.
Your relationship with sugar hasn’t been created in a week, and totally breaking the habit will also take longer than this. But here’s the good news: over time, as you continue reducing your sugar intake, the benefits you experience will be enough to keep you on track!
-The Alternative Daily