You might not be power drinking soda or eating chocolate bars at each meal but you are probably eating sugar all day without realizing it.
Sugar is added to a lot of food that doesn't even really taste sweet (like bread) and so when you really think about it, it would really up. The American Heart Association recommends women consume no more than six teaspoons of added sugar per day (or about 100 calories), most of us take in double that. A high sugar diet increase your risk of tooth decay, heart disease, diabetes and weight gain. Cut the amount of sugar in your diet by following these 10 tips.
1. Read Food Labels
If you start looking at labels, you will see how often sugar is added to food. "Even things that you don't think are sweet, like tomato sauce, crackers, condiments, and salad dressings can be packed with sugar," says Diane Sanfilippo, certified nutrition consultant and author of The 21 Day Sugar Detox
. Ingredients are listed in the order by the highest quantity. If sugar is near the top of the list, it's a warning.
2. Learn Sugar's Aliases
Reading food labels for added sugar needs to go beyond just looking for the word 'sugar.' It can be hidden under different names like high fructose corn syrup, dried cane syrup, invert sugar, molasses, sucrose (or any word ending in "-ose"), brown rice syrup, honey, and maple syrup. These ingredients are listed separately in lots of foods, like cereals, so if you see a lot of them, it is a good sign that the food isn't very healthy.
3. Buy Unsweetened
Now that you know what you are looking for on the labels, you can start to make better choices. Choose things that say "no sugar added" or "unsweetened."
4. Don't Go Cold Turkey
For most of us, cold turkey isn't realistic. So try to decrease the amount you use over time. If you take two sugars in your coffee, try taking one for a week. Then reduce to half until you are only adding your milk.
5. Think Protein and Fat
Unhealthy carbs that are loaded with sugar cause your insulin to spike and then rapidly crash, leaving you drained and hungry. To minimize this rapid rise and fall, pair protein with healthy fats and fiber. All of these slow down the release of blood sugar and help you feel fuller longer. Fats are key because they help you feel satiated and that decreases your desire for sugar. Focus on healthy fats like avocados, nuts, seeds and heart healthy oils like olive oil, walnut oil and coconut oil.
6. Never Go Fake
You may be tempted to switch to artificial sweeteners when trying to cut sugar but resist the urge. When you eat something sweet, your body expects calories and nutrition but artificial sweeteners don't have any of those things so your body keeps looking for it and craving it. This may be why fake sugars are associated with weight gain—not loss, according to a 2010 review in the Yale Journal of Biology and Medicine.
7. Add More Flavour
Use some spices, vanilla bean, vanilla extract, or citrus zest to add sweetness to your food without using sugar or add any calories. Flavour your own latte with some cocoa or vanilla powder. Skip flavoured oatmeal and add cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger. And the best part about cinnamon, it has been shown to naturally help control blood sugar which means it helps you control your appetite.
8. Don't Drink It
Drinking soda is a no no but it might not be the only sugary drink you're swigging. Many other beverages, even those you think might be healthy, contain more sugar than you are even supposed to have in a day. A few examples are: "enhanced" waters (eight teaspoons per bottle), bottled iced teas (more than nine teaspoons per bottle), energy drinks (almost seven teaspoons per can), bottled coffee drinks (eight teaspoons per bottle), store bought smoothies (over a dozen teaspoons for a small).
9. Enjoy Dessert
Cutting down on sugar doesn't mean you can't enjoy the odd dessert now and then. The point of this diet transformation is to avoid wasting your daily sugar quota on non dessert foods like ketchup and bread. But you should still be careful. Set rules for yourself in regards to dessert. Something like, limiting dessert to after dinner on weekends, is perfect.
10. Stick With It
It is going to feel really difficult at first. It will seem daunting but eventually your taste buds will adjust. Foods like ice cream and candy will taste too sweet and you will not be able to eat it like you did before. Bonus: you will start to notice the natural sweetness in fruits and vegetables and they will taste better.
Hidden sugar in your diet? Tell us where.