Sugar is the devil, right? Well, no...but we definitely want to limit it - especially the added sugar. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend limiting added sugar to less than 10% of your daily calories. For a 150 pound person, this is 150 calories from added sugar, or 38 grams of sugar - max, per day. While it is fine to indulge sometimes, having some strategies to limit sugar in general leaves room for that occasional splurge. Try these ideas:
1. Don't add sugar (or honey, syrup, molasses, agave, ....) at the table.
Cut back on sugar in your tea/coffee, adding extra sugar to cereal, putting syrup it on waffles, or sugar on strawberries. You can start by cutting the amount in half and then wean down from there.
2. Swap out your sugar sweetend beverage.
Soda, lemonade, and sports drinks are the biggest culprits, but some "healthy" looking drinks like smoothies and juices are real sugar busts. Try to swap these out for fruit infused water (great recipes on Pinterest), sparkling water with fresh lemon or lime, herbal or fruit teas, or unsweetened black tea or coffee.
3. Cut your portion by sharing your dessert.
Not only will this make you more popular with friends, it will also help you indulge while keeping your sugar consumption in check. If not in a social situation, just cut that brownie or cookie in half, so you still get a delicious taste but only half the impact. Better that the second half end up in the trash than on your waistline.
4. Pick fruit instead of cake/pie/brownies/cookies.
Fresh fruit will still give you that sweet taste, but come packed with fiber and antioxidants lacking in processed foods. Frozen or canned fruit are also good options, as long as the canned fruit is in juice (not heavy syrup.)
5. Look at that label.
New label guidelines will require the amount of Added Sugar grams to be listed. Dairy and fruit will contain some natural sugars, but it is the added sugar we are looking to limit. Some snacks look healthy if you read the front of the package, but are really loaded with added sugar once you check the label.
Switch out sugar in recipes for unsweetened applesauce (1 to 1 ratio) or try stevia, a plan extract with no calories and no impact on blood sugar levels. Sugar alcohols such as erythritol and xylitol are another option, but some people are sensitive to them and have unpleasant digestive side effects.
The more you reduce the added sugar in your diet, the less you will crave. Your tastebuds will perk up and foods containing natural sugars will taste sweeter. Best of all, you will reduce your risk of many chronic diseases including diabetes and obesity.
Look for more information on sugar substitues in future blog posts!