You might be surprised to learn that sugar is in nearly everything. It’s even in your favorite health foods, such as almond butter, chia seeds and kale chips. Sugar has a way of sneaking into our diets without us even knowing it and that can be harmful to our health if we don’t find ways to reduce our intake. But reducing your sugar intake doesn’t have to be complicated or difficult — you just need to know what steps you can take. So let’s get started!
Learn how to spot sugar
Sugar is in a lot of foods and you don’t even know it. Even if a food doesn’t contain any added sugars, the processing of that food may have added some. That’s why learning how to spot sugar is so important; it will help you make better choices when eating out or shopping at the store.
The first step in reducing your intake of added sugars is to learn which ingredients contain them, as well as where they can be hiding in foods that aren’t obviously sweet (like salad dressing).
If possible, avoid products containing high-fructose corn syrup, white sugar and brown sugar because these are the most common forms of added sugars found in the American diet.
Use food labels
Food labels may be the most effective way to reduce your sugar intake.
Foods that contain added sugars are required under US federal guidelines to list “sugars” in the ingredients list. However, this doesn’t mean you need to avoid all foods that contain sugars. For example, whole wheat bread and other whole grains still have carbohydrates from starch but not added sugars. Similarly, if you look at a typical peanut butter label it will likely say something like “contains peanuts and sugar” (or sucrose). The presence of peanut butter is not an issue; it’s the added sugar that matters here!
If you see unfamiliar terms such as fructose or sucrose on an ingredient list then do some research before eating these products again—they might contain extra ingredients which impact blood cholesterol levels negatively or cause gastrointestinal issues like bloating after consumption (1).
This is a great way to trick yourself into eating more calories. For example, if you’re trying to make healthier choices by opting for low-fat yogurt, be careful. The label on that container may claim that it has 100 calories per serving and only 8 grams of sugar, but those numbers can be deceiving. If you dig deeper, you’ll see that one container contains 90% of your daily recommended intake of added sugars! And while consuming too much added sugar can contribute to adverse health effects (like weight gain), limiting sodium intake is also important because excess sodium causes water retention and puffiness in the face of dehydration—not good news when you’re hoping to look slim and fit!
In addition to those potential side effects on your body composition, high sodium diets have been linked with elevated blood pressure levels—a risk factor for heart disease and stroke.
Eat whole foods
Whole foods are minimally processed, meaning they’re naturally occurring, unrefined, and unmodified. Whole foods contain all the nutritional components of the food they came from—just like nature intended! Whole foods are more nutritious, filling and satisfying than their processed counterparts.
In addition to being healthier for you (as we already discussed), eating whole foods is also better for the environment and your wallet.
Avoid sugar-sweetened drinks
When you’re trying to reduce your sugar intake, there’s no reason to slavishly avoid sweetened drinks. There are plenty of healthy options out there—for example, sparkling water with fresh fruit slices or mint leaves is a great way to spice up an old standby.
To get the most bang for your buck when it comes to calories and sweetness, look for flavored seltzer waters in berry or lemon-lime flavors instead of sugary sodas. This same rule applies if you want something hot: opt for unsweetened tea instead of hot chocolate or coffee with cream or milk (which also contains significant amounts of fat).
Meal planning is a great way to save time, money and calories. If you meal plan at the beginning of each week, then you won’t have the temptation to eat out or order delivery because your meals are already planned out for you. You can also save money by shopping only once per week instead of multiple times throughout the week.
The best part about meal planning is that it allows you to make healthier foods so that when it comes time for dinner or lunch, there aren’t any unhealthy options available because they were never in your house!
Be snack smart
You don’t have to give up all snacks. There are plenty of healthy options out there.
Avoid sugary snacks (e.g., chocolate chip cookies). Instead, opt for fruit or nuts as a snack on an empty stomach.
Choose high-protein and fibre-rich foods, such as carrots and hummus or hardboiled eggs with salsa. Also consider adding a small portion of whole grain crackers with tuna salad or peanut butter to balance your fats and protein consumption at this mealtime.
Avoid unhealthy snacks (e.g., potato chips) that are high in added sugars and salts but low in nutrients like potassium and magnesium—and instead opt for lower calorie options like yogurt with berries or almonds if you’re looking for something sweet!
It’s not just a cliche that sleep is good for your health, it’s true! It’s essential to our overall well-being.
Sleep deprivation can lead to weight gain. When you’re tired, you eat more junk food and make bad decisions about what to eat. You may even choose foods that are higher in sugar because they taste better after a long day of work and activities—but these refined carbs will set you up for failure in the long run.
Sleep deprivation can lead to poor decision making: Did we mention how much sugar is found in processed foods? Many people turn to these snacks when they’re tired because they’re easy and cheap—but those choices add up quickly over time.*
Sleep deprivation can lead to poor memory: In addition to making unwise food choices when tired, research has shown that lack of sleep slows down brain function so much that it affects memory retention.* This means less ability (or desire) to remember things like “don’t eat dessert after dinner.”
Take home message
Your body is constantly going through a process of recovery and repair.
Sleep allows you to get the rest you need so that your body can perform at its best.
Getting enough sleep also keeps your brain functioning optimally, which means better memory and concentration, as well as improved mood and energy levels.
So, there you have it. If you are someone who wants to reduce your sugar intake but is struggling with how to go about doing it, then hopefully these tips will help!
Remember that this process can be a little slow and difficult at first, but sticking with it will pay off in the long run.