The average American eats about 82 grams of sugar a day. Thats about 20 teaspoons. Too much sugar has been linked to weight gain, diabetes, Alzheimer’s, memory loss and even cancer, among other health issues. Here are 5 easy ways to help you cut sugar and stay healthier on a daily basis.
1. Keep a food diary.
This is a great way to watch what you eat. By making a list your sugar (and calorie) consumption becomes apparent and it will be very easy to tell when you’ve had to much, when it’s time to switch to a healthier option and when its just time to say “no.” By identifying your biggest sources of sugar, soda or other beverages, candy or desserts, or even some cereals… you’ll be able to cut back easier.
2. Understand the difference between good and bad sugars and make the switch. Sugar occurs naturally in some food items. You’ll find that fruits tend to have larger amounts of natural sugar. The difference between eating this and lets say, a candy bar is that your body not only knows how to handle the naturally occurring sugar better, it also contains fiber that slows down the absorption rate and digestion of the sugar preventing major spikes. This also makes the sugar readily available for more beneficial functions like fuel, then turning directly into fat or being stored in the liver. If you must have something sweet, always choose nature’s candy (fruits) over anything else! When fresh, they taste just as delicious!
3. Read labels, especially on “diet” products. Sometimes when a product is fat free, or has low calories, the sugar content may be high. Sugar = Fat eventually… so don’t be fooled. Some products may surprise you on how much sugar they actually contain and other products may use clever names to hide the fact that they contain sugar such as corn syrup, ethyl maltol, fruit juice, high-fructose corn syrup, lactose, carob syrup, caramel and others.
4. Ditch the soda, juice, sports drinks and sweetened teas. Sugary drinks account for almost 40% of the unnecessary sugar humans consume and its extremely easy to consume a lot of it without realizing. Think before you drink… that can of soda is the equivalent of eating 10 sugar cubes. Stick to sugar free coffee or tea, water or sparkling water… if you insist on something fizzy. Want to sweeten it up? Squeeze some fresh fruit, lemons, limes, raspberries or even oranges into your beverage! Even a small splash of fruit juice can’t hurt.
5. Avoid or dilute fruit juice. Even if you are drinking 100% fruit juice the fructose will still cause a spike in your sugar levels. If you must have some juice, dilute it with either flat or carbonated water.