Are you a sugar addict?
Do you add sugar to your tea or coffee?
Do you juice or sports drinks on a daily basis?
Is fruit alone not sweet enough for you?
If you answered yes to any of these, you are most likely consuming more sugar than you think.
The average American consumes 20-28 teaspoons of sugar daily. Not only has increased sugar consumption been proven to dramatically increase the risk of Type 2 Diabetes, heart disease and obesity, but it has also been compared to highly addictive drugs.
Sugar only has about 16 calories per teaspoon, but there is also no nutrition value to it. This means something can be very low in calories but have more added sugar than normal. The formula is simple; the more sugary and unhealthy foods you eat, the less room you have in your diet for healthy, nutritious food that will get you the results you want.
What to look out for:
- Stop adding sugar. The most obvious way to decrease your daily sugar intake is to stop adding sugar to things such as tea, coffee, cereal, fruit and oatmeal. Honey and maple syrup are also added sugars that are not needed.
- Don’t turn to artificial sweeteners. Chemical sweetener like aspartame or saccharin, are often added to foods as a sweetener substitute. However, these sweeteners cause your taste buds to change, causing naturally sweet foods such as fruit, to no longer be sweet enough. In return, you crave more artificial sweeteners. While these tend to be lower in calories, they are nothing but chemicals and again, serve no nutritional purpose.
- Toss the sugary drinks. When is the last time you heard a benefit that comes from drinking soda? Never. There is no nutritional benefit to sugary drink such as soda, ice tea, sugary sports drinks or high sugar alcoholic beverages. Cutting these drinks out or treating them as special occasion treats will help reduce your daily intake of sugar.
- Watch out for sneaky sugars. Many meals that you can either make at home or enjoy out at a restaurant have added sugar in them but it can often be hidden. Brown sugar, corn syrup, maltose, fructose, dextrose, molasses, agave, brown rice syrup, cane sugar, cane syrup, and evaporated cane juice are all sugars that are often found in glazes, sauces and condiments.
Still want to satisfy that sweet tooth? There are healthier ways to sweeten your foods and drinks that do not add artificial sugar and calories to your diet.
How to substitute:
- Add frozen or fresh fruit to your water for some variety. Instead of buying flavored water or soda, which are both full of artificial flavors and sugar, add these natural flavors to water.
- Raw honey. Not only does raw honey sweeten up your dish, but it also has many health benefits including being antimicrobial, antibacterial, and antifungal, which add a secret health bonus.
- Grated carrots or beets. Carrots and beets are two of the sweetest plants growing. Adding grated carrots or beets to dishes such as homemade sauces, muffins or cakes can make them surprisingly sweeter without the added sugar.
- Maple syrup. Having fewer calories and slightly higher mineral count than honey, adding maple syrup to dishes such as oatmeal and baked goods can satisfy the craving for sweets and adds nutrients to your diet.
Cutting sugars out of your diet is a great way to improve your health and prevent disease. However, cutting it out cold turkey can sometimes lead to anxiety, headaches or mood swings, similar to drug withdraw. Reducing the amount of sugar that you consume in a day in a slow, consistent process is going to be the best bet for making a permanent and successful change for yourself.