Why to Cut Sugar Intake and How to Do It Successfully
8 minute read
If you are like most other Americans, then you are likely eating more sugar than is good for you. We all have a sweet tooth, but the important factor to remember is moderation.
Too much sugar can cause serious health problems, like diabetes and obesity, which will contribute to heart problems. Thankfully, there are ways to cut back your sugar intake without sacrificing the pleasures of eating the good stuff.
The reason you eat more sugar than is good for you is because most of what you consume is hidden. Added sugars are hidden everywhere in the modern diet.
You can find sugar in:
♦ Chicken stock
♦ Salad dressings
♦ Low-fat foods
♦ Processed foods
♦ Frozen foods
These foods may sometimes be marketed as healthy, but make no mistake, they contain added sugar.
Apart from hiding in plain sight, added sugars have one other trick up their sleeve: they actually make you overeat. They are very tasty and high in calories, but they never make you feel full.
Rather they trick you into wanting more. You crave that delicious taste and since you’re not full, you might as well grab another mouthful.
Because these hidden sweeteners are everywhere, you end up eating more than you want until you make the conscious effort to avoid them.
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This situation did not happen by accident. The sugar companies were counting on this so they can be profitable.
In addition to promoting sugars, they also have placed blame on fats for the obesity epidemic plaguing our country. We tend to accept this explanation because it makes sense that fat would cause fat to build in your body.
What is then overlooked is the fact that excess sugar causes excess fat and obesity as well as dangerous health problems like diabetes.
What and Where to Cut
Your main focus needs to be on added sugars, and these are often well hidden if you don’t know what to look for on the labels.
♦ High fructose syrup
♦ Honey (contains fructose)
♦ Maple syrup
♦ Granulated sugar
The sugars that are naturally found in fruits and vegetables are not a threat because these are not often overeaten. The fibers in these foods tend to fill you up, so there is no chance of going overboard on the sugar they contain.
To make dietary changes takes thought and commitment. There are simple daily changes you can make gradually each day and with each meal until you get used to life without all that sugar.
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It is always best to make the changes slowly, to allow your body to get used to a new diet plan and avoid relapsing. The tips below will help you make the necessary adjustments to cut out sugars and improve your overall health.
Breakfast Is a Danger Zone
Many breakfast foods are full of sugar including many yogurts and cereals. You need to remember that your breakfast should not taste like dessert.
As the first and most important meal of your day, choose foods that will guide the rest of your meal plans. If you must have cereals, stick to those low in sugar, such as oatmeal or Cheerios. You can even try homemade granola.
The best bet is to move away from grains in the morning and opt for fresh fruit, plain yogurt, eggs, nuts, or a small piece of toast.
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There is also no rule that says vegetables can’t be served in the morning, so add a few to an omelet and get your day started right: sugar-free and full of protein.
Beware of Beverages
Drinks are the number-one source of added sugars, and this includes juices that you may think are healthy. Soda should be completely eliminated from your diet, as it is the worst culprit of the drinks.
Sports energy drinks are not much better and should only be used during periods of exercise when extra energy is needed. Diet drinks are better, but still dangerous because the artificial sweeteners used cause metabolic abnormalities as well as weight gain.
If you drink soda for the caffeine, try switching to coffee or tea. If you need the fizz, opt for seltzer.
Look at Label
Food manufacturers are clever in how they hide the bad foods. Always check the labels to see where added sugars are lurking and choose wisely.
When it comes to snacks, only stock the healthy options in your pantry, so you are not tempted to overdo it on the sugars. Instead of granola bars and fruit cups, try nuts, fresh fruit, or popcorn.
The main ingredient in most of the sauces you love is sugar. Ketchup, canned pasta sauce, and barbecue sauce contain high fructose corn syrup, which is the heavy hitter of added sugars.
You can always opt to make your own sauces. If you need to buy any, though, it is best to stick to the ones that have no syrup listed in the ingredients.
There is not likely to be a good barbecue sauce that doesn’t have sugar, but if you are cutting back elsewhere, it will be okay to treat yourself to those ribs every now and then.
Don’t Let Dessert Ruin It All
You may have avoided sugar all day, but then dessert is just too tempting. When it comes to the sweet treats, there is no reason you cannot enjoy them.
The key is portion sizes and developing good habits. Take smaller slices of cheesecake or pie, and dessert does not have to be your end of day ritual.
Your brain can be a funny organ sometimes. Try a cup of tea or some fruit on alternate days, so that sugar is not the thing you crave every night. There are numerous benefits to tea that will boost your health rather than drain it like that sweet treat does.
The Bottom Line
We have taste buds on our tongue dedicated to detecting the sugar taste, so obviously we do not want to deprive them of their duty. There is no harm in the occasional soda or brownie or even that bowl of Frosted Flakes that takes you back to your childhood.
What matters is that you are conscious about your sugar intake and cut it from as many sources as you can. Your health matters more than that sweet craving. Cut back and live longer.