Sugar is bad, bad, bad. OK, it’s fine to enjoy a bit here and there, but for the most part, you should really be limiting how much you get on a daily basis. In fact, the American Heart Association tells women to limit their added sugar intake to about 4 teaspoons per day. Just to put things in perspective, there’s more than that in a single can of soda. Too much sugar can lead to insulin resistance and weight gain. Cutting back is hard, but it will be so worth the effort. You’ll feel better and look better since too much of the sweet stuff can also accelerate the signs of aging. Here’s how to cut back right now.
1. Start Reading All the Food Labels when You Shop
The single best way to get a handle on your sugar intake is to read the labels for anything you buy. You might be surprised to see what has sugar added to it. I’m talking pasta sauce, salad dressing and even bread. By getting a handle on what foods you can eliminate or limit, you can cut your sugar intake pretty easily.
2. Reach for Water Instead of Anything else to Drink
Water is the best choice for rehydrating and your body relies on it for virtually every process it performs. And, when you grab water, you won’t need anything else to get rid of thirst. You should be skipping soda, energy drinks and juice if you want to cut back on sugar as all of these beverages are often loaded with more than you need in one day.
3. Don’t Worry about the Sugar in Fruit – It’s Always a Healthy Pick
The recommendations you see regarding sugar have to do with added sugar. The sugar in fruit is natural and has a place in a healthy diet. In fact, fruit is a must for many reasons, including fiber, vitamins A and C, and potassium. So, go ahead and have a few servings of fruit every day. It will fill you up and help you resist the temptation to grab the Ring Dings from the vending machine when you get hungry.
4. Plan for a Splurge Now and then to Keep You from Feeling Deprived
Anyone who has ever dieted will tell you that skipping your favorite treats only sets you up to totally binge on them down the road. It’s fine to enjoy a brownie or cup of hot cocoa from time to time, but make sure you budget their sugar intake into your day so that you don’t overdo it.
5. Sugar Has a Lot of Sneaky Names That You Should Be Aware of
Going back to reading labels for a moment here. Sugar goes by many names so just because you don’t see sugar in the ingredients list doesn’t mean it isn’t in there. You want to watch for anything that ends in –ose (fructose, dextrose, etc.). Cane juice, molasses or syrup are all code names for sugar as well.
6. Look for Unsweetened Versions of Your Favorite Foods
Many food manufacturers are catering to customers who want to cut back on sugar by selling their most popular products with less added sugar. This includes things like applesauce, baked goods and bread. Look for those labeled as “unsweetened” and it won’t be hard to reduce your overall sugar intake.
7. Don’t Go Cold Turkey when You Quit Sugar
Your body will react uncomfortably if you just give up sugar all at once. Instead, cut back gradually so you give your body a chance to adjust to the changes that happen when you don’t get as much of the sweet stuff. For example, start by eliminating one soda per day for a week. Then take away another one and so on and so forth until you are down to just drinking water. Think you can do it?
Do you get too much sugar? Most of us do. What changes are you going to make so you can cut back and get healthy?