Many of us have way too much sugar in our diets, even when not consciously adding it to our food. Some sugary foods are more obvious than others, like donuts, cookies, pop, candy, jams, and cake, but other foods have hidden sugar.
Yes, sugar is delicious and highly addictive, and it can be hard not to give in to your sweet tooth and put three packets of sugar in your morning coffee (as well as your afternoon coffee), but that can lead to a variety of problems. They include obesity, inflammation, high blood pressure, fatty liver, high triglycerides, diabetes, and heart disease.
Being more aware of the foods we eat and the beverages we drink and their sugar content can help in reducing sugar intake.
Take Time to Read
When you buy food with labels, how often do you look at what is actually in the ingredients? Maybe you would prefer not to know, so make it a point not to look, but take a look at the ingredients. If sugar is listed in the first few ingredients, you know it has a higher sugar content.
It won’t always simply say “sugar” on the label. Look for other names for sugar such as high-fructose corn syrup, sorghum, lactose, sucrose, glucose, galactose, dextrose, fructose, mannitol, honey, brown sugar, sorbitol, corn syrup, dextrin, agave, hydrogenated starch, carob syrup, date sugar, barley malt, ethyl maltol, caramel, cane juice, fruit juice, and xylitol.
Sugar is in That?
Sometimes sugar appears in foods you wouldn’t think contains a lot of sugar. But sugar makes an appearance in:
• canned soup
• tomato sauce
• flavoured yogurt
• barbecue sauce and marinades
• salad dressing – especially low-fat salad dressing
• canned vegetables
• breakfast cereals
• store bought smoothies
• frozen dinners
• white and whole wheat bread
• granola bars
If you are going to buy these items, check the labels to see how much sugar is actually in them. You can compare brands to choose the option with less sugar, or you could make your own in the case of soups, tomato sauce, salad dressings, smoothies, and granola. Buy fresh vegetables rather than canned, use nuts and berries as your cereal rather than sugary options from the cereal aisle, and buy plain Greek yogurt and add your own fruit.
Are You Drinking Your Sugar?
Maybe you are mindful of what you eat, but sugar you are consuming comes in your beverages as well. What do you usually drink? Syrupy lattes, energy drinks, sports drinks, lemonade, alcoholic beverages like pina coladas and daiquiris, and pop contain lots of sugar, as do store bought juices like apple and grape juice. It’s better to eat the fruit rather than drink the juice, because the whole fruit has fiber. Besides, lots of store bought juice has very little real fruit in it.
You Can Reduce Your Intake
It can be difficult to cut down on the amount of sugar in your diet if you are used to having a lot of it every day and add even more to already sugary food and drinks. I know because I used to add sugar or sweeteners to so many things. If you want to cut down like I did, you can.
For example, if you have two milk chocolate bars every day, have one per day for a week. The next week, have half of one, and the next week, half of one three times per week. Continue like this until you’re no longer eating them at all. You might realize you don’t even miss them!
Gradual changes are more doable, and once you are no longer consuming so much sugar, your taste buds will adjust, and you’ll get more used to the natural sweetness of fruit. Once you do this, you might find the sugary donuts, cakes, lattes, and pop you used to love and crave are way too sweet.