How to Cut Back on Sugar

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Let’s face it, sugar is delicious. But it is well known that too much sugar in our diet can lead to several issues such as weight gain and tooth decay. Weight gain can then lead to obesity, which increases the risk of chronic diseases such as Diabetes, Heart Disease, and Cancer. But sugar is everywhere in our foods and stores. So, how do we cut back on sugar? Just follow some of these tips below on how to cut back on sugar.

Avoid sugar-sweetened beverages

Sugar in liquid form, i.e. soda, juices, sweetened tea, sweetened coffee beverages, flavored waters, and more, is one of the best ways to cut back on sugar. The calories in sugar-sweetened beverages can add up quickly. For example, there is 39 g of sugar in a 12 ounce can of Coke. The recommended daily added sugar limit is 37.5 grams for men and 25 grams for women. This is about 9 teaspoons of sugar for men and 6 teaspoons for women.

So, as you can see, 1 can of Coke is more than the recommended daily limit. So, cutting out high calorie, sugary beverages can have a big effect on your overall caloric intake. Drink water or other zero-calorie beverages such as unsweetened tea or sparkling water.

Check the ingredients list for sugar

There are a variety of different names for sugar that you can find in foods and beverages. If you see one of the following in the first 3 ingredients, then this food likely has high sugar content.

• Brown sugar
• Corn sweetener
• Corn syrup
• Fruit juice concentrates
• High-fructose corn syrup
• Honey
• Invert sugar
• Malt sugar
• Molasses
• Raw sugar
• Sugar
• Sugar molecules ending in “ose” (dextrose, fructose, glucose, lactose, maltose, sucrose)
• Syrup

Eat high protein foods

I find that eating higher protein foods helps me to curb my sweet cravings as well as curbing my appetite. Some examples of high protein snacks are low-fat cheese, plain Greek yogurt, natural peanut butter with celery, raw nuts, and low sugar protein bars. These foods also help to keep you feeling full, limiting the chance of eating more food or high sugar foods.  For a high protein soup, check out this Amazing Italian Sausage and Vegetable Soup!

Limit added sugars

Be aware of how much sugar you add to beverages such as coffee, tea, and foods during baking or cooking. You can start but cutting back by half and continue to wean from there. Your tastes do adjust over time and you won’t end up missing it after a while.

Eat fruit

Fruits are naturally sweet and have more nutritional benefits compared to most sugary processed foods. Fruits are high in a variety of vitamins such as vitamin C, vitamin A, B vitamins such as thiamine and folate as well as minerals such as potassium.  And fruit is also high in fiber which helps with digestion and keeping you full longer because it takes longer to digest.

You can add fruit to foods such as oatmeal instead of sugar to naturally sweeten, also adding fiber. I love to add bananas, blueberries, or dried cranberries to overnight oats. Delicious! And blueberries are a nutrient-dense food! For more healthy meal ideas, read Healthy Breakfast Ideas!

Alternative sweeteners

As a dietitian, I am often asked about using non-nutritive or alternative sweeteners. There are numerous non-nutritive sweeteners on the market, such as Splenda, Equal, Sweet n’ Low, Truvia, as well as sugar alcohols such as sorbitol, mannitol. These substances can be added to foods or beverages by the consumer, but they also can be added during processing, which means they are already in some products you buy at the store.

According to a scientific statement by the American Heart Association and American Diabetes Association published in 2012, non-nutritive sweeteners are very low calorie or zero-calorie sweeteners that provide a higher intensity of sweetness per gram than caloric sweeteners such as sugar or corn syrup. They conclude that there is not enough evidence that the use of non-nutritive sweeteners reduces intake of sugar and carbs, or benefits appetite, calorie balance, body weight, or cardiometabolic risk factors. But they report there is some proof that the use of these substances as a part of a structured diet may result in modest calorie reductions and weight loss. But you must be watching your intake of calories from other foods as not to offset the reduction in calories.

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