How You Can Reduce Your Sugar Intake

Most people enjoy sugary foods. Not only do these foods and drinks give you energy, but they taste great too. Eating too much sugar, however, can be bad for your health.

Having too much sugar can lead to many unpleasant health conditions, some of which you may be familiar with and some that may surprise you. Do not make the mistake of overestimating how bad excessive sugar intake is for your health. Fortunately, if you manage your sugar levels, you can indulge in the occasional treat without risking your well-being.

There are other reasons to cut sugar out of your diet besides health concerns. If you are trying to lose a few pounds, one of the most effective ways to lower your weight is limiting how much sugar you consume. If you do not plan on removing sugar entirely, it helps to understand all the possible health risks associated with too much sugar so that you can make better dietary choices. Tips on how you can manage your sugar intake are covered below.

Why should you reduce your sugar intake?

Eating too much sugar can have negative effects on your health, but it depends on what type of sugar you are ingesting. There is a big difference between natural sugars and the type of processed or added sugars you find in soda or desserts. Natural sugar found in foods like vegetables and fruits is actually good for you. Processed sugars are the ones with health risks because these sugars contain additional calories and have no nutritional value.

Many people do not realize just how much processed sugar is found in foods and how much it can negatively impact their health. On average, Americans consume approximately 68 grams of added sugar every day. As of writing, the recommended maximum daily limit is 25 grams for women and 37 grams for men. Eating too much processed sugar can cause heart disease, Type-2 diabetes, obesity, tooth decay and cancer. Even if you do not develop a disease from processed sugar, you may frequently get stomach aches from a sugar-heavy diet. How much sugar you can have largely depends on your medical and dietary history. For the best results, speak with your doctor or a dietician to determine how much sugar you can safely include in your diet.

How do you know if foods contain added sugar?

Finding out which foods contain added sugars seems like it is an easy task, but spotting added sugars can be tricky depending on how the ingredients are listed. When nutritional information is printed on food packaging, it often has the heading of “sugars,” which does not separate natural and added sugars. The ingredients list on a food label can be confusing, as it often informs you there are added sugars included without telling you how much. You may find several terms on food labels you do not understand. The following items on food labels indicate the item contains added sugars:

  • Corn sweetener or syrup.
  • Malt sugar.
  • Invert sugar.
  • Fructose.
  • Lactose.
  • Sucrose.
  • Dextrose.
  • Maltose.
  • High-fructose syrup.

How can you reduce your added sugar intake?

There are many ways in which you can reduce your intake of added sugar. First, you can cut down on sugar-filled drinks. You may already know sodas are notorious for containing a lot of added sugar, but there are plenty of other drinks loaded with unhealthy sugars. You may be surprised to learn sports drinks, energy drinks and fruit juices all contain a high amount of added sugars. In fact, these drinks contribute 44 percent of added sugar in the average American’s diet.

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So-called healthy drinks are not healthy at all when you consider just how much added sugar they contain. By cutting down on these drinks, you reduce your sugar intake. This can help you to lose weight and avoid any sugar related health conditions.

You can also reduce your sugar intake by cutting back on the amount of sugars you use in your cooking. If you are baking items, such as brownies, cakes and cookies, simply cut the amount of sugar the recipe requires by one-third to one-half. It is possible that you will not even notice the difference when it comes to eating foods with less or removed sugar. You can replace sugar in recipes as well. Use extracts like vanilla, lemon and almond as a sugar alternative.

Avoiding sauces with a lot of sugar is another surefire way of reducing your sugar intake. Most people think nothing of adding a barbecue or chili sauce to their food, but these types of sauces contain shocking amounts of sugar. Typically, a tablespoon of ketchup contains a whole teaspoon of sugar. Some sauce varieties pride themselves on not having any added sugar, so make sure you pick these types of sauces. Alternatively, you can avoid bottled sauces altogether. There are many other items you can use to flavor your food, such as herbs and spices, mustard, fresh chili and pesto.

Giving up or cutting back on processed foods is a great way of making sure you do not eat too much sugar. Stick to unprocessed foods like fruits, vegetables and rice, and you easily reduce your sugar intake. If you still want to eat some processed foods, avoid ultra-processed foods like pizzas, pies and desserts.

It may sound hard to believe, but the truth is many low-fat versions of foods contain more calories and more sugar than the full-fat versions. Therefore, you are not doing yourself any favors by picking up low-fat peanut butter, salad dressing or yogurt at your local supermarket. For example, a four-ounce low-fat vanilla yogurt typically contains 16 grams of sugar, whereas the same amount of a full-fat plain yogurt contains only 5 grams. Generally, it is better to pick full-fat foods if you want to reduce your sugar intake.

Some common breakfast additives, such as molasses and syrup, are full of sugar. Instead of adding these to your pancakes or cereal in the morning, use fresh fruit. The same goes for adding white and brown sugar. Foods like cherries, cranberries or bananas are much better for your health.

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