Unless you need to remove sugar from your diet for health reasons (e.g., diabetes), then learn to cut back without completely cutting it out. Complete deprivation, in my opinion, may later lead to extreme eating. By enjoying something sweet in moderation, you experience pleasure without the guilt, and feel physically better while you’re at it. After all, the American Heart Association recommends you limit sugar consumption, not leave it out altogether.
Strategies to kick the sugar habit
Here a few ideas to help you cut some “sugar” corners throughout your day :
Cut out sugary drinks. That includes everything from soft drinks to orange juice to those decadent coffee beverages. A Mocha Frappuccino tastes great, but 9.5 ounces costs you 31 grams of sugar! 100% juices are not much better, as they contain as much or more sugar than soda, with little/no health benefit.
Start the day with a low/no sugar breakfast. This list from Spark People shares 10 cereals that won’t load you up on sugar, including selections like Spoon Size Shredded Wheat from Post (my personal favorite). Eggs and toast are another low-sugar way to start the day, with protein to provide energy all morning long.
Think before you give it to your kids. There’s no denying how much kids love sugar, but too much of a good thing can have negative health consequences. Type 2 diabetes, which used to be called adult-onset diabetes, is now diagnosed in kids as young as nine years old.
A child who eats a sugary cereal for breakfast, drinks juice, chocolate milk and soda throughout the day, and subsequently eats lots of pasta or other high-carb meals at lunch and dinner, is consuming too many carbohydrates relative to other macronutrients. This means the pancreas is working in overdrive to produce insulin.
Visualize teaspoons. Whether you are feeding yourself or your little ones, think about how many teaspoons of sugar you’re putting in your system. Every 4 grams of sugar yields a teaspoon of sugar, and that visual alone may be adequate to restrain you. Stacey Antine of Health Barn USA suggests actually measuring out the teaspoons of sugar for kids to see what they’re eating (though it’s helpful for adults, too!).
Read food labels. Even if you don’t buy a lot of processed foods, you may be getting sugar in breads, crackers and other less conspicuous sources. A few sneaky surprises include Asian sauces, fruit spreads, salad dressings, yogurt and, as already mentioned, spaghetti sauces.
Share and skip. If you like dessert as much as I do, try sharing it with a friend or family member. You may get enough sugar to satisfy that sweet tooth without overindulging. Likewise, enjoy a piece of pie or cake without going back for seconds. If you have the discipline to wait twenty minutes, there’s a great likelihood you’ll skip seconds altogether.
Try a no sugar experiment. Our family carried out a one-week experiment sans sugar and it was a terrific way for our whole family to recognize how much sugar we eat and when, as well as easy ways to cut it out of the usual routine.
Drink responsibly. For those of you wondering about alcohol, according to Livestrong, the average glass of white wine contains 1.5 g of sugar. A single serving of beer doesn’t contain sugar. Similarly, 80-proof spirits or “hard” liquors don’t contain sugar, while a glass of red wine contains less than 1 gram. Note, however, that maltose levels produced from the germination of grains in beer do impact blood glucose levels.
Photo courtesy of NIH.