Most people know that sugar is bad for our health and waistline, but how do we avoid it when it seems to be everywhere and so appealing to our tastebuds?
The American Heart Association recommends no more than 9 teaspoons per day of sugar for men. Right now, the average American consumes double that, contributing to the alarming rise in heart disease, diabetes, cancer and obesity.
One of the best ways to get healthy and loose weight is to cut sugar from your diet. Cutting down on sugar will get you the biggest results in the fastest amount of time. Follow the advice below for some helpful no-sugar tips:
Read food labels. If sugar is at the top of the list, it’s one of the main ingredients. Even things that you wouldn’t consider sweet, like ketchup, crackers, bread and sauces are packed with sugar. So be vigilant and make label reading a habit.
Know sugar’s many forms. High-fructose corn syrup, dried cane syrup, invert sugar, molasses, sucrose, brown rice syrup, honey and maypole syrup all types of sugar that are harmful to your health so don’t be fooled; avoid those too.
Buy un-sweetened. Look for products labeled “no sugar added” or “unsweetened”. Items such as oatmeal, applesauce, store-bought beverages and canned fruit usually come in an unsweetened version.
Cut back slowly. Sugar is everywhere. It’s not realistic for most people to give it up altogether. It is possible to gradually decrease your intake of sugar in your coffee or skip the truck stop donut, for example.
Replace sugar with flavor. Instead of using sugar, use extracts such as almond or vanilla in your coffee or in other goodies such as replacing syrup with allspice, cinnamon or nutmeg on pancakes.
Ditch the store bought drinks. Yes, soda is a big culprit in Sugarville, but many drinks that don’t even taste very sweet such as energy drinks, bottled iced teas and coffees, store-bought smoothies, ‘enhanced’ water can have lots of hidden sugar. In fact, the American Heart Association lists sugar-sweetened beverages as the main source of added sugars on Americans’ diets and more likely to cause weight gain than eating too many calories from solid food.
Ditch the artificial sweeteners. Aside from having harmful chemicals, artificial sweeteners falsely trick the taste-buts into expecting calories and nutrition. That may be why they’re associated with weight gain – not weight loss.
Reach for the protein and fat. Sugar causes blood sugar in the body to spike and then drop off quickly which will leave you hungry again, eating more and gaining weight. Stay fuller longer by increasing your take of healthy fats and proteins such as avocados, nuts, seeds and heart-healthy oils like olive oil and coconut oil.
Choose whole foods. Whole foods are foods that are much closer to their original form, such as fruits and vegetables straight from the earth. In the grocery store, see if you can buy more food from the produce section than packaged foods from the aisles. If you can do it, you’re on your way to better health.
Don’t give up! Due to its addictive qualities, sugar can be hard to give up. But with some will power, over time your tastebuds adjust, and you won’t need to eat super-sweet foods like cake and candy to get a fix. When you do eat a bite of cake, it will be much sweeter!