Americans are addicted to sugar. It’s in most processed foods and present in nightmarish quantities in fast food, junk food, and “comfort food.” Continued over-indulgence of sugary foods greatly increases the chance of diabetes and subsequent heart disease. Taking the initiative to make healthy food choices by creating a low sugar diet plan before problems develop can mean avoiding health risks and major issues down the road.
Here are eight tips for reducing sugar intake.
1. Read the Label
When comparison shopping, it’s important to know how to read a nutrition label. Nutrition labels on food packaging list ingredients decreasingly in order of amount, so as a rule of thumb, avoid foods that have any form of sugar listed in the top three ingredients.
2. Desert the Dessert
One of the worst characteristics of refined sugar that is added to foods is that it often leaves you craving more, so if you can figure out what triggers your cravings, you might just avoid an entire day of bad eating. Another great way to manage sweet cravings is to keep portion sizes down. In other words, you don’t have to deny yourself the snack (which might backfire with an overindulgence later), but always chose “fun size” over “king size.”
3. Drink More Water
Add more water to your day starting right now. Feel better? That’s because just plain water is what your cells need to replenish themselves. Our bodies are 50-75% water and just can’t function correctly without enough of it. Water also helps satiate thirst so that you don’t reach for a dehydrating beverage with loads of sugar or caffeine.
4. Drop the Pop
Sodas and energy drinks are some of the worst offenders when it comes to sugar content. Many popular 16-ounce energy drinks contain the sugar equivalent of a dozen donuts. Swapping out your daily regular soft drink for a plain iced tea, a natural low sugar powdered drink mix, or water can make an enormous impact on sugar consumption and daily caloric intake.
5. Reduce Cravings with Healthy Food Choices
If you eat balanced meals, your body’s digestive and endocrine systems can work correctly to keep your blood sugar level optimum. Eat a good balance of protein, fiber, whole grains, and complex carbohydrates, as well as copious amounts of vegetables and fruits. Between meals, get into the habit of satisfying your cravings by substituting something that provides more nutritional value.
6. Drop That Teaspoon
Reduce or eliminate that spoonful of sugar in your coffee or tea; in a short while, your taste buds will adapt and be happy with the complex natural flavors and sweetness of your favorite foods.
7. Keep Track of Your Grazing
Sometimes the worst food addictions are the ones we’re not even aware of. Food is everywhere, and we’re encouraged to eat for entertainment in movie theaters and at parties. Keeping track of everything you eat with a notepad or an online health management program is a good way to help focus your attention on your diet and to become more aware of your sugar daily sugar consumption.
8. Get Some Fresh Air
Staring at a computer screen all day can sap the life out of you and fatigue your brain, making your body yearn for a pick-me-up. Instead of relying on a candy bar for quick energy, take a walk around the block. The fresh air will refresh your head, and the exercise will oxygenate your blood and reduce sugar cravings. If you’re still hungry when you get back, snack on complex carbs like whole grains and nuts for a more even, longer lasting energy boost.
Recent studies indicate that with current eating and health habits, for the first time in several generations, future generations’ lifespans may actually be shorter than our own because of poor nutrition. Controlling and reducing sugar intake is a great start on the path to better health.