The average American eats approximately 17 teaspoons of added sugar per day. This is a tragedy because added sugars in processed foods are known to increase inflammation in the body and are associated with obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, cancer and tooth decay. This single so-called food is largely responsible for much of the sickness and misery that our society is experiencing today. Here are ways to reduce your consumption of added sugars.
1-Don’t drink your calories! So many of the drinks that most people consume in a day are full of added sugars. Liquids don’t satisfy hunger like solid foods so these empty calories are just added calories with little to no satiety factor. Instead of sugar-laden liquids drink water, flavored water, herbal or fruit teas, coffee or other unsweetened teas. Alcohol is a sugar based drink.
2-Avoid the traditional grain and dairy based desserts that are so common in the United States. They have little to no nutritional value and make you feel tired and hungry. You just want more and more when you consume these concoctions. If you want something sweet at the end of a meal opt for fruit in it’s own juice or Greek yogurt with fresh fruit and some cinnamon. I use Saigon Cinnamon for a sweeter, more pungent cinnamon taste. You can also bake apples and pears for a truly sweet treat. Skip the extra calories and add the vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and fiber that you will get when you sub fruit for pastry.
3-You know, we are condiment crazy! A single Tablespoon of ketchup can contain a teaspoon of sugar! I use Heinz No Sugar Added Ketchup. It has a great taste and my son has eaten this product since it hit the shelves and he won’t eat anything else. Now, he’s 26 but ever since his first taste of this product he has insisted on this ketchup. You might say that he’s a “Ketchup Connoisseur”. The boy knows his ketchup. It’s really good. Avoid sugar-filled condiments and try herbs, mustard, vinegar, pesto and a sugar-free mayonnaise instead. Dukes Mayonnaise has always been sugar-free and it’s delicious. If you don’t see it on the shelf, you can order it online. I think that almost all Dollar General’s and Walmart’s carry it though. Barbecue sauce is sugar-filled. I use Sugar Free G Hughes brand that is available at Walmart. It comes in three varieties and they’re all good!
4-Eat full-fat foods. Low fat versions of your favorite foods abound! The problem is, almost every time that a company reduces the fat in a product, they add sugar to make the product more palatable. Sometimes the low-fat version will even have more calories. Read labels and you will find this to be true.
5-Eat whole foods that you cook at home. Whole foods are foods that have not been processed or refined. They don’t have any additives whatsoever. A lot of Americans eat a diet that consists mainly of ultra-processed foods such as cereals, pizza, pies and soft drinks. 90% of the added sugars in American’s diets come from these ultra-processed foods. You can make an Italian red sauce at home with no added sugar but if you buy it in a jar, it may contain as much as 3 teaspoons of sugar per serving. If you eat canned fruits and vegetables always read the label and seek out a product with no added sugars.
6-Be mindful of so-called “healthy snacks”. I tried to work granola into my diet for years. If I make my own, I’m okay but it is nearly impossible to find a commercial granola that doesn’t contain added sugar in some form. Dried fruit is a nutritional landmine if you’re cutting sugar out of your diet. While it may not be added sugar, it is so sweet that it will cause an insulin spike and give you terrible cravings. I sometimes make my own granola with my favorite nuts and Saigon cinnamon and raw oats. A boiled egg makes a nutritious snack that will give you a pick-me-up in the afternoon. I always keep an apple in my bag. Paired with a handful of nuts, it will get me through until dinner. If you try to eat protein bars tread cautiously! Most are full of sugar. I like One Bars, they contain only 1 gram. Be very mindful of the pitfalls of “healthy” marketing. Quite often it is an illusion.
7- Breakfast is a minefield. Prepared cereals are loaded with sugars. Pancakes, waffles and muffins are sticky sweet. Opt instead for oatmeal, Greek yogurt and eggs with the meat of your choice. You can swap all that sugar for a good dose of protein if you’re mindful.
8-Read labels and watch for these words:
High fructose corn syrup
Cane sugar or juice
Always remember that if an ingredient is closer to the beginning of the ingredient list, the greater percentage there is of it in the food. Read carefully!
9-Most people are not getting enough protein. Protein helps curb food cravings and has been proven to reduce appetite and hunger. Eat protein at every meal and snack.
10-Consider trying the natural sweetener, erythritol. It’s found in “Swerve” products. They have granulated, confectioner’s and brown sugar replacements. It doesn’t create cravings and has no calories. Most of our dessert recipes use this natural sweetener.
11-Don’t buy it. How many times have you lied to yourself or others and said that you were buying that bakery sheet cake “for the kids”? Don’t believe for a minute that anyone except you believes that. The “kids” don’t need it either. Leave the desserts in the store.
12- Catch some zzz’s. Sleep deprivation causes cravings. A tired brain craves energy and sugar is a source of concentrated energy.
13-Read about “glycation”, the way that sugar damages your skin. That in itself should be enough to make you stop.
Abandoning sugar was one of the best things that I have done for my health. I rarely go to the doctor and take absolutely no medication. I lift heavy weights and work full-time at a very stressful job. I am a nurse and it’s a demanding field. I don’t ever remember missing work due to sickness. While I make my health my number 1 priority in every way, abandoning sugar has made a difference in my life. If you have considered cutting it out of your diet, talk to your doctor and get started today. You’ll be glad that you did!