Painless Ways to Cut Sugar from Your Diet

Painless Ways to Cut Sugar from Your Diet

If you’re trying to eat healthier, chances are, you’ve heard much about the evils of sugar. That it’s linked to weight gain, type 2 diabetes, heart attack and stroke and much more. That to avoid it, you should skip soda and dessert.

But, unfortunately, sugar is much more insidious. It hides in more than just the obvious spots, which is why, without trying, you could be greatly exceeded the American Heart Association’s recommendations of consuming no more than six to nine teaspoons of added sugars per day (that’s about 24 to 36 grams, or 100 to 150 calories).

The tips below can help you spot sneaky sources of added sugar in your diet — plus smarter alternatives.

Cut Sugar from your Diet

Read food labels.

Once you start looking, you’ll realize sugar is everywhere. Reading food labels takes some practice, though, as there are many different names for added sugars, including glucose, fructose, brown rice syrup, honey, molasses, maple syrup, sucrose, high-fructose corn syrup, corn syrup — all told, says there are more than 61 terms for added sugar!

Another food label tip: To find out how many teaspoons of sugar are in any given food, divide the grams by four. (So, a snack bar with 16 grams of sugar contains four teaspoons, or 60 calories worth, inside. Eek!)

Once you get the hang of label-reading, you’ll know which foods and brands are your go-tos for low or no added sugars.

Make your own.

This one starts at the grocery store, too.

To avoid hidden added sugars, your best bet is to make your own wherever possible. This includes salad dressing, pasta sauce, smoothies and much more — anything you buy packaged likely has sugar in it, so it’s a good idea to figure out what’s worth it for you to buy pre-made, and what you can create at home with fewer additives.

Start with breakfast.

In much of the world, the day starts off with a sugar bomb: a pastry and/or sugar sweetened tea or coffee; cereal or granola and milk — even yogurt has sugar in it unless you’re buying plain.

But there’s another way. If you commit to a no-added-sugar breakfast, you’ll likely be able to swap your total consumption for the day.

eggs avocado toast tomatoes healthy breakfast

Try plain yogurt topped with fruit, cinnamon and nuts; eggs with avocado; fruit with cheese, or no-sugar-added nut butter on toast (more on that below).

Switch your bread-buying habits.

Even 100 percent whole wheat bread, billed as healthy, has added sugar in it.

One of the best ways around this is to buy a different type. Try rye or sourdough, for example — they are often made with the simplest of ingredients and no added sugars. (Plus some evidence suggests sourdough might contain gut-friendly bacteria because of the fermentation process involved with making it.)

Crowd it out.

If you’re trying to avoid sugar, you’ll need to replace the sweet stuff with something else. This means plenty of protein and healthy fats, plus naturally sweet foods such as fruits. If every day around 3 p.m. you’re used to a sweet snack, try herbal tea or a brisk 10-minute walk with a coworker instead. It will be tough at first, but after a few weeks, it will become habit.

Add flavor (as long as it’s not fake).

There are ways to add sweetness without sacrificing flavor. Try vanilla extract and/or cinnamon in your morning oatmeal instead of sugar, for example. (Or a whipped banana!)

If you like sugar in your coffee, try a dash of whole milk with cinnamon instead. It will take time and trial and error to find out what helps you fill the sugar void — but eventually, your tastes will change, and your body will thank you.

Know when it counts.

Think of these swaps to slash sugar as making room for the sweet treats that really count.

family laugh cake special occasion cut sugar

Birthday cake, a restaurant’s super-special cinnamon roll when you’re out to lunch with friends, ice cream with your kids on a hot summer night — so worth it. That’s why we say it’s important to keep an eye on your total sugar numbers during those less-than-special moments!

TELL US: How have you cut sugar from your diet?

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Cover photo credit: Alexandru

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