Reducing your added sugar intake can have numerous benefits for your health, including weight loss, improved dental health, and reduced risk of chronic diseases such as diabetes and heart disease. It can also reduce our visceral belly fat!
What exactly are added sugars? According to the American Heart Association:
“Added sugars are sugars and syrups put in foods during preparation or processing or at the table.”
Some examples of processed foods and beverages that contain added sugar include sodas, sports & energy drinks, fruit juices, cereals, soups, ready-to-eat meals, bread, condiments, and more.
The American Heart Association recommends that women consume no more than 6 teaspoons (25 grams or 100 calories) of added sugar per day. For men, no more than 9 teaspoons (36 grams or 150 calories) per day.
To put that into perspective, one 20 oz sports drink typically contains 34 grams of added sugars!
It’s easy to consume way too much added sugar since it is found in just about every packaged food and drink! But reducing your sugar intake can be done with just a few simple tweaks to your consumption and shopping habits.
Here are some simple ways to reduce your sugar intake:
1. Drink Water Instead of Sugary Drinks
Replace sugary drinks such as soda, fruit juices, and sports drinks with water, herbal tea, or organic sugar-free beverages. My personal favorite beverage is water with a splash of organic lemon juice and a few drops of stevia to sweeten it.
2. Choose Whole Foods
Opt for whole foods such as fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein sources, which are naturally low in sugar, other additives, and artificial substances. The majority of added sugars come from processed/packaged foods & drinks. Therefore adding more whole foods to your diet will naturally reduce your processed food consumption and in turn, your sugar intake.
3. Read Food Labels
Check the ingredients list on packaged foods and choose options with lower sugar content. Look for sugar under different names such as brown sugar, cane juice, corn syrup, dextrose, fructose, fruit nectars, glucose, high-fructose corn syrup, honey, lactose, malt syrup, maltose, maple syrup, molasses, raw sugar, and sucrose.
4. Swap Sugary Snacks for Healthier Options
Replace sugary snacks such as candy, cookies, and pastries with healthier options that will satisfy your sweet tooth, like fresh fruit, or my personal favorite, sweet potatoes.
5. Limit Processed and Packaged Foods
Processed and packaged foods often contain high amounts of added sugar. Instead, cook your own meals using fresh ingredients whenever possible.
6. Be Mindful of Condiments
Many condiments like ketchup, barbecue sauce, and salad dressings contain added sugar (and calories). Consider making your own or choosing low-sugar, low-calorie options.
7. Use Natural Sweeteners
Use natural sweeteners like stevia instead of refined sugar when baking or sweetening foods.
Remember that small changes can make a big difference over time! Start by making a few simple changes to your diet and gradually work towards reducing your sugar intake.