If you eat too much sugar, bad things happen. It’s just that simple. Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, liver disease, and a host of other medical issues can all arise if you consume large quantities of sugar regularly. But many of us put excess sugars in our bodies without even knowing it.
The problem isn’t with nature – natural sugars found in fruits, vegetables, and dairy products are essential sources for the carbohydrates that give us energy. But added sugars contained in processed foods from yogurt to ketchup, as well as those in more obvious culprits like sweetened soft drinks and cookies, don’t add the same value. They’re just empty calories piled on top of the natural sugar you already take in.
Fortunately, reducing the amount of added sugar in your diet, thus reducing your risk of developing health problems, isn’t difficult. It’s a matter of conscious, thoughtful shopping and smart dietary choices that won’t deprive you of flavor, fullness, and nutrition.
Here are five easy ways to eat less sugar:
1. Ditch Sweetened Beverages
If you’re looking for the biggest culprit in America’s processed sugar overload, head to the beverage section. Sweetened drinks, including sodas, sweet teas, energy drinks, lemonade, and sports drinks account for 42.2 percent of average added sugar intake, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It’s not hard to understand why. Just one 12-ounce can of regular soda contains approximately 140 calories, all from added sugar. That one can equals or exceeds the American Heart Association’s recommendation for daily sugar intake – less than 100 calories a day for women and 150 for men.
Try to limit or eliminate altogether your consumption of sweetened beverages and try equally tasty alternatives such as sugar-free or fruit-infused flavored waters and natural fruit juices.
2. Read Up
Added sugars show up in lots of items that don’t seem like intuitive homes for additional sweeteners. That is why reading labels when at the grocery store is one of the best ways to avoid unknowingly putting added sugar into your cart and your body. Read the food labels carefully and look for ingredients like agave, brown sugar, cane sugar, corn syrup, molasses, fructose, dextrose, and evaporated cane juice. Ingredients on labels are listed in order of how much is in a package, so the higher these added sweeteners are on a product’s label, the less you should be inclined to buy it.
3. Don’t Fall For Low-Fat
People looking to eat healthier often presume that foods labeled as “low-fat” are better for them. The problem is that many low-fat foods make up for the loss of flavor caused by reducing fat by adding large quantities of sugar. For example, one serving of low-fat yogurt can contain as much as 30 grams of sugar – almost 60 percent of the USDA’s recommended daily limit.
If you want to reduce your fat intake, skip some of the low-fat items and replace them with whole foods that are full of fiber, protein, and natural fats like fresh vegetables and fruits, whole grains, fish, and eggs. Not only will these foods keep your sugar cravings at bay by filling you up, but they can also help keep your blood sugar levels balanced as well.
4. Switch Out Refined Sugars For Natural Sweeteners
Instead of adding refined sugar to your coffee or tea, try using natural sweeteners like stevia, raw honey, and pure maple syrup. Similarly, you can use fresh, pureed, or baked fruits as a sugar substitute when cooking or baking.
5. Keep An Eye On The Treats
While some added sugars may sneak up on you, it’s likely no surprise to you that cookies, doughnuts, cakes, candy, ice cream, and other sweet treats are chock full of them. We all need to indulge every once in a while. Who would want to live in a world without ice cream? But try to keep your splurging to once or twice a week to avoid overloading your system with added sugars.
Controlling the intake of added sugars through a healthy diet is especially important for people with diabetes. It is one part of a comprehensive approach to maintaining healthy blood sugar levels. Another critical aspect is effective, accurate, and continuous monitoring of those levels.
Continuous Glucose Monitoring (CGM) is a tested, approved, and easy-to-use transceiver device that helps those with diabetes stay in tune and ahead of the game with their diabetes monitoring. Contact us today to see if you qualify for CGM and access our guide to continuous glucose monitoring.