4 Easy Ways to Reduce Your Sugar Intake
Fat used to be the health evil to fear but more and more studies are making clear that sugar is what we should worry about. Here are 4 easy ways to reduce your sugar intake.
Reduce Your Sugar Intake
We are eating record amounts of sugar—an average of 128 pounds worth, per person per year—and the results are obvious. Obesity, heart disease, high cholesterol, type 2 diabetes and even some cancers are linked to the ongoing obsessions with all things sweet. It doesn’t help that sugar has addictive properties either, making it difficult to ditch (this is something I know all too well).
Last year, a paper in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that high-sugar chocolate milk shakes lit up the reward centers of participants’ brains more effectively than milk shakes that were calorically identical but higher in fat and lower in the sweet stuff. This sugar-stoked reward system can drive compulsive eating, the researchers believe. (Source)
Sugar is in so much of what we eat, including healthy items like fruit, but it’s the sugar-based carbohydrates that are the most problematic. Refined sugar, and the processed foods which contain it are at the root of the issue. Yes, that pre-packaged lasagna is convenient, but take a look at the sugar content on the ingredients label. You might be surprised!
Related: Check out these healthy ingredient swaps.
Lower Sugar Intake With These 4 Steps
So how do you get your sugar intake under control?
1. Avoid simple carbohydrates
In the same way as eating a spoon of sugar, simple carbs that are found in breads, plates of pasta, and many starches turn into sugar in your system. Complex carbohydrates are a better option, like beans and legumes, which take longer to break down and process in your body. Plus they give you the fiber you need. Combine them with proteins and fats and you will feel fuller for longer.
Even salad dressing and other sauces (have you looked at a ketchup label lately?) can contain a lot of sugar. Some of the worst culprits are drinks like ice teas and bottled coffee drinks. Learn to read ingredient labels and cut down on processed foods that contain a lot of carbs/sugar.
2. Skip the sugar free aisle
While diet cola and other ‘sugar free’ items are rampant in the grocery store aisles, skip them. These products will often use alternative sweeteners, listed on the label by their names and those are anything but the ‘s’ word: high fructose corn syrup, cane syrup, molasses, sucrose, honey, and maple syrup, to name a few. All of those are sugar…
Even when products use fake sugar style sweeteners, they’re still a problem: your body needs to adjust to getting energy from stored fat, not from simple carbs and the fake sweeteners just confuse the whole process. A study with the Yale Journal of Biology and Medicine showed that fake sugars could actually contribute to weight gain! Instead, opt for all things unsweetened, from canned fruit in water, plain yogurts, unsweetened applesauce and so on.
3. Add flavor boosters to foods you love
If you have to have your morning oatmeal, skip the sugar sprinkle and add cinnamon or nutmeg instead. Vanilla bean and pure extract are perfect additions to your morning coffee. It’s really a matter of finding ways to add punch without adding sweet. Eventually, you will find that you don’t crave sweet things as much and you’ll be able to go to a party and skip the dessert table happily.
TBK’s Pro Tip: Sprinle cinnamon in your coffee this morning. That paired with this paleo coffee creamer bring a sweetness to your coffee with no added sugar.
4. Take it slow
If you’ve been used to consuming sugars and carbs all your life, going cold turkey will just hurt and, in the long run, be unsustainable. You’ll cave in at some point to your body’s desire for sugar. Instead, take it slowly. Cut down, rather than cutting out, some of the sugars you ingest normally. For example, try one teaspoon of sugar in your coffee instead of two. Get used to the new flavor and gradually reduce it. You’re more likely to stick to the plan this way.
It’s not about watching every bite that goes into your mouth or counting every calorie. Instead, be mindful of the quality of the food that you eat and what it contains. Things that you might never have thought would be high in sugar can be filled with them. Just because it says ‘HEALTHY!’ on the label, doesn’t mean that it is! Do your due diligence and you’ll find it easier than you think to drop the sweets!
Low Sugar Recipes
- Chocolate Protein Pudding Parfaits
- Healthy Pumpkin Spice Bars
- Gluten Free Coconut Chocolate Chip Cookies
- Red Wine Steak Marinade
- Clean Eating Chicken Chili
- Thai Coconut Peanut Soup
- Whole30 Coconut Curry Chicken Meatballs
If you have any tips on how to reduce your sugar intake, please leave them in the comments.