The American Heart Association recommends that people limit their daily sugar intake to 25-30 grams a day. But that can feel like an impossible task. With over 40 grams of sugar in the average soda, how is anyone supposed to cut back?
Luckily, there are lots of ways to cut back on sugar in your diet. By swapping some of your sugary treats for still-delicious low-sugar options, focusing on good sugar over bad, and cutting back on some of the highest sugar items, you’ll find yourself mastering the art of low sugar life in no time!
There are many reasons for cutting back on sugar in your diet. If you’re diabetic, cutting down on sugar is key to your health. But limiting your sugar can also help you prevent diabetes. Less sugar can also help you lose weight and keep it off. A low-sugar diet can benefit every part of your health.
Benefits of Cutting Back on Sugar:
- Lowers cholesterol
- Improves heart health
- Helps with weight loss
- Reduces cancer risk
- Improves blood pressure
- Reduces the risk of diabetes
- Improves skin health
- Can boost mental health
- Reduces inflammation
- Better sleep
- Increase energy
- Reduces risk of lung disease
One of the main things to remember is that no one expects you to quit sugar cold turkey. You may have more success if you slowly start to cut back. Small change is still helpful.
The biggest overall changes to try and make will include limiting high sugar foods, finding alternatives for your favorite sweets, and reading nutrition labels to keep track of how much sugar you’re taking in.
Another important thing to remember is the difference between naturally occurring sugar and added sugar. You’ll find naturally occurring sugar in fruits, vegetables, and dairy products. When it comes to sugar, this is the better of the two.
Added sugar is sugar that is added to foods and drinks to sweeten them, and it should be avoided when possible.
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One of the best first steps to take when cutting back on sugar is to limit sugary drinks, especially soda. The healthiest option is to drink more water and less soda. But opting for a diet or sugar-free soda is also a great option. Sugar-free syrups or mixes are another way to jazz up water if you want to make it more appealing.
Other drinks to cut back on include fruit juice, sports drinks, energy drinks, and smoothies. All these drinks can contain large amounts of sugar, so it’s important to keep an eye on nutrition labels and enjoy these drinks in moderation.
Coffee is also a drink that can have high levels of hidden sugar. Swapping to sugar-free creamer and natural alternative sweeteners like Splenda, Sweet ‘N Low, Equal, etc. can quickly cut down on the sugar content. Using cinnamon or honey can keep your favorite coffee tasting sweet too. You can also see if your favorite coffee shop offers sugar-free, light, or skinny versions of your favorite drink.
Embracing a low-sugar diet doesn’t have to mean giving up your favorite drinks. Do your best to cut back on high sugar drinks and indulge in healthier alternatives for day-to-day sips.
Starting Your Day
It is important to start your day off on the right foot. Breakfast can seem like a sugar minefield, but there are endless healthy options you can enjoy too!
Fruit can be a great way to sweeten up your breakfast. While fruits do contain sugar, it is natural sugar. Adding fresh fruit to steel-cut oatmeal or Greek yogurt can make for a delicious start to your day.
In addition to keeping the sugar content of your breakfast low, it is important to keep your protein high. Protein keeps you feeling full longer, and unlike donuts or other pastries, it won’t cause your blood sugar to crash. Eggs are a great addition to any breakfast but adding protein powder to oatmeal or yogurt is another option.
Other tips for making the most of your breakfast include incorporating whole grains, nuts, and high fiber options.
Opting for a low-sugar lifestyle doesn’t limit your lunch options. There are countless simple and delicious recipes. Many of the same tips you follow for breakfast can be applied to lunch.
One of the best ways to control the amount of sugar in your lunch is to make it yourself, instead of getting fast food or having lunch out. However, you can still have a healthy lunch when eating out.
It is important to incorporate protein into your lunch as well. This will again help keep you feeling full and energized throughout the day. Whole grains, veggies, and nuts are all also great additions.
If you’re craving something sweet with your lunch, incorporating fresh fruit or a low-sugar treat can help satisfy your sweet tooth. Apples are an especially good option because they can help satisfy your sweet tooth and give you an energy boost that can help you avoid a sugary caffeine craving in the afternoon.
Another key to keeping your sugar intake in control is to limit how many carbs (carbohydrates) you consume. Foods like bread, pasta, corn, and potatoes are some examples of high-carb foods.
This doesn’t mean you have to cut these foods out of your diet completely though. While you should scale back on potatoes and corn, you can enjoy them in moderation while indulging in nutrient-rich vegetables like carrots, broccoli, zucchini, spinach, and more.
Finding healthy swaps for pasta is another way to maximize flavor and health benefits too. Whole grain pasta, zucchini noodles, and chickpea pasta are a few alternatives that will allow you to enjoy your favorite foods with extra health benefits. It is important to remember that when enjoying carbs, they should only make up 25% of your plate. Another 25% should be lean proteins, and 50% should be vegetables.
Changing to a low sugar diet can be challenging. It’s important to know that there’s no harm in occasionally enjoying your favorite dessert or sweet treat. But when it comes to day-to-day sweet snacks, there are a lot of options. The healthiest option is usually to swap out high sugar items like ice cream, with fresh fruit or Greek yogurt.
Another option is to find low or sugar-free swaps. Whether you opt for low-sugar ice cream, sugar-free chocolate, lite desserts, you can still indulge your sweet tooth without getting off track.
When it comes to starting a low-sugar lifestyle, you have lots of options. Enjoy sugar in a better way with fruits and natural sugars; complete some simple swaps to whole grains or alternative pasta to boost your nutrition; and find some smart ways to satisfy your sweet tooth.
If you’re looking for support, advice, or want to get started with the help of a medical professional, schedule an appointment with your EPIC Provider today!