Be wary of any diet which says it’s completely sugar-free. Sugar naturally occurs in fruits and vegetables. And it’s really not terrible for you – as a matter of fact, some sugar is a necessity in your diet. What you need to eliminate is the added sugars you’ll find in many processed foods today. This includes the sugar you find in soft drinks, cookies, cakes, pies, chocolates, fruit drinks, and desserts.
Sugar can lead to many diseases, such as Type 2 diabetes and high cholesterol. So it’s definitely important to watch what you eat when it comes to sugar. Replacing sugar with sugar substitutes is not necessarily any healthier for you either. Using artificial sweeteners like Sweet ‘N Low and Splenda can still cause diabetes and high cholesterol.
Sugar can help some healthy foods become more palatable, making for more variety and a healthy diet for people. We as humans tend to have a bit of a sweet tooth and we shouldn’t ignore that craving.
Some experts believe that sugar is the body’s preferred fuel and therefore is important to consume in moderation. The American Heart Association recommends that women consume no more than 100 calories (6 teaspoons) of sugar a day and men have no more than 150 calories (9 teaspoons) of sugar a day.
Try these tips to reduce your sugar intake…
* Cut back on the amount of sugar you add to drinks like coffee and tea, your pancakes, and on your cereal.
* Drink low-calorie drinks or sugar-free drinks instead of sugar-sweetened beverages.
* Compare food labels. Look for foods with less sugar added to them. And remember, sugar comes disguised in many different names. So make sure you read the labels for terms like honey, molasses, invert sugar, brown sugar, raw sugar, corn sweetener, or syrup.
* When baking cake, reduce the sugar in the recipe by one third. Substitute the sugar with things like applesauce.
* Use extracts instead of sugar, or spices like cinnamon or ginger.
* Instead of adding sugar to your cereal, put fruit on it.
* Avoid prepared and prepackaged foods. Opting for the fresh versions might require more prep time, but it will also most likely have less sugar added to it, and you’ll know exactly what you’re putting into something this way.
Take time to take a serious look at the foods you’re eating and how much sugar they have in them. Look at how you can cut back and how you can change things up to reduce how much sugar you take in. Set a goal for yourself of how much sugar you would like to have. Shoot for the AHAs recommendations, but depending on how much you’re starting out with you might have to work towards that to help ease your palate into this new way of eating.
Sugar occurs naturally in many foods, from fruits and vegetables to milk and dairy products, so eliminating sugar completely is going to be next to impossible. Having it in moderation as part of a well-balanced diet and an active lifestyle is the most important thing to remember.