We are addicted to sugar. We are so addicted that it has become a standard in the American diet. The average American consumes about 20 teaspoons, or 80 grams, of sugar a day. As a result of sugar and sweeteners being added into our food, 13 % of American adults’ total calorie intake comes from added sugars. This has led to an increase in chronic illnesses such as high blood pressure, a higher risk of diabetes, and heart disease. Knowing all of this, the logical assumption to make is that we need to start looking at reducing our sugar intake in our daily lives.
Sugar isn’t evil, but our excess consumption of it has disastrous side effects. So what can we do to reduce our intake? We list our five easy ways to reduce our sugar intake below.
- Look at your labels. Sugar can turn up in unexpected places like milk, bread, and salad dressings. Because of how companies process their foods, what we typically eat is usually stripped of important nutrients and replaced with sugar to make it easier for our tastebuds to consume. Some healthy foods like yogurt are also not spared from this because sugar is added in to make it tastier. Make it a habit to start checking the labels of foods that you are interested in purchasing. Words to look out for on the label are high fructose corn syrup, cane syrup, molasses, sucrose (or any word ending in “-ose”). The ultimate goal is to teach yourself how much sugar you are consuming and becoming aware of the amount.
- Narrow down your source of sugar. Our eating habits are all different, but we all have sugar consumption habits. It’s just a matter of narrowing down where specifically we get our main sources of sugar from in our daily schedules. For many, it comes directly down to soda consumption and so that is the easiest place to start in reducing sugar intake. For me, most of my sugar comes from snacks in the mid-afternoon and late into the night when I am working on something and need that little something to keep me going. Once you’ve identified where your primary sources of sugar come from, that’s where your focus on reduction should be.
- Wean yourself off of sugar. Although we shouldn’t eat lots of sugar, it becomes super easy to get to the taste. However, once we get used to the taste, we end up wanting more and more. Luckily, if we make efforts to slowly reduce our sugar intake, we can get ourselves used to wanting less and less. Start off small. If you usually add sugar to your coffee or tea, maybe cut the amount you put in by a half. Cut a little bit more each week and, soon, you’ll be used to not adding any sugar at all.
- Substitute sugar with fruit and spices. This is something I’ve been hoping to experiment with myself since I’m a frequent baker. I’m immensely guilty for adding brown sugar to everything. Swap out sugar with fruits like bananas or maybe some unsweetened applesauce. The sweetness will still be the same. Or add some spices like cinnamon or ginger to enhance flavors in a recipe to trick your tastebuds. Soon you’ll crave the sugar less and embrace the sweetness of fruits and spices more. WebMD has some really good tips on what to use for further substitutions in baking.
- Add more healthy fats. Sugar is addicting and it is usually our go-to when we are feeling tired or when we are starving because it is something we’ve come to crave. However, that is something we should strive to work against. If we want to restore our energy and also feel more full, seeking out foods with healthy fats should be our main priority. Simple ways that you can add fats in an easy manner are to add avocado to your morning eggs and toast (avocado toast anyone?). Maybe instead of going for thousand island or ranch, pour some olive oil over your salad. And, instead of reaching for that sugary chocolate snack during the afternoon, maybe munch on some almonds to hold you over until dinner.