Eating too much sugar is bad for your health. You’ve heard it before. Excessive consumption can increase your risk for obesity, heart disease and a host of other health complications.
Obesity rates are on the rise and sugar-sweetened beverages have undoubtedly taken the heat, but that’s only the short story. Leading researchers are finding that added sugars such as high fructose corn syrup might be the causing the liver to work overtime leading to a myriad of issues from metabolic syndrome to fatty liver disease.
Cutting back on your sugar intake is a smart choice, but it’s tough to know where to start. If you’re looking to taper off, start with a few of the tweaks below. Introduce them to your everyday routine, and eventually, they’ll turn into a habit. Here are 8 ways to eat less sugar.
1. Go Natural
Eat natural sources of sugar over added sugars. Added sugars like honey, agave, and high fructose corn syrup contain empty calories meaning they have zero nutritional value. Fill up on fresh fruit and vegetables instead because they contain fiber that slows the rate of absorption of carbohydrates along with improving cholesterol levels, digestion, and satiety to help with weight loss.
2. Quit Your Soda Habit
Diet or regular, drinking any kind of pop promotes weight gain and amplifies sugar cravings. The artificial sweeteners in these drinks lead people to overeat or overcompensate, for the lack of calories contained in the beverages. Artificial sweeteners don’t offer the same hunger-dampening biological rewards that natural sweeteners do, causing the drinker to seek out something caloric. The sweetness in both diet and non-diet soda prompts side effects similar to addiction, making drinkers crave more sugar.
3. Be Conscious Of Condiments
Check the nutrition facts panel to see how much sugar it contains. Generally, your best bets for low-sugar condiments include mustard (yellow and Dijon are low in sugar, but watch out for honey mustards), light mayonnaise, hot sauce, fat-free plain Greek yogurt in place of sour cream, fresh salsa (not jarred), horseradish and dill pickle relish. You can also add a ton of sugar-free, low-calorie flavor with vinegar.
4. Avoid Sauces With Lots of Sugar
Sauces such as ketchup, barbecue sauce, and sweet chili sauce are commonplace in most kitchens. However, most people aren't aware of their shocking sugar content. A single tablespoon (15-gram) serving of ketchup may contain 1 teaspoon (4 grams. Although, some varieties have no added sugar. Always read the label to be sure you are choosing the lowest-sugar option.
5. Drink More Water
Are you sure you’re hungry? Thirst and dehydration can often disguise themselves as hunger. To determine whether you’re actually hungry or simply thirsty, drink a cup of water and wait a moment. If you’re feeling good, your body was probably trying to tell you it was parched.
6. Think Protein And Fat
Unhealthy carbs loaded with sugar can cause blood sugar to rise rapidly (and dive just as quickly, leaving you hungry again). To minimize this rapid rise and fall, pair protein, healthy fats, and fiber with your meal, all of which can slow down the release of blood sugar in your body and keep you full for longer. Fats are a key player because they help keep you fuller for longer, thus helping to decrease your desire for sugar. Focus on fats like avocados, nuts, seeds, and heart-healthy oils like olive oil, walnut oil, and coconut oil.
7. Check for Sugar In Canned Foods
Canned foods can be a useful and cheap addition to your diet, but they can also contain a lot of added sugar. Fruits and vegetables contain naturally occurring sugars. However, they're not an issue since they do not affect your blood sugar in the same way that added sugar does. Avoid canned foods that are packed in syrup or have sugar in the ingredients list. Fruit is sweet enough, so go for versions that are labeled with "in own juice" or "no added sugar." If you buy canned fruits or vegetables that do have added sugar, you can remove some of it by rinsing them in water before you eat them.
8. Watch Your Alcohol Intake
Yes, there's sugar in your sundowner, too. A pre-mixed gin and tonic contain more than half the recommended daily intake of sugar. A pint of cider was found to contain five teaspoons. Obviously, it pays to watch your booze intake anyway. But whenever you do indulge, opt for drier varieties of wine, sherry or cider, and choose low-sugar mixers.
Excess sugar in the diet can be incredibly harmful and has been linked to many chronic diseases, including cancer, type 2 diabetes, heart disease and obesity. Choose a diet based on whole foods, rather than highly processed alternatives, to be fully in control of your sugar intake and not consume an excess amount of it. In this post, I shared with you 8 ways to eat less sugar.
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