When most people think of added sugar, they immediately think of weight gain. But excessive amounts of sugar can do even more harm. The average American consumes about ½ a cup of added sugar per day and over time this adds up and causes excess inflammation in your body. In addition to making you feel sluggish and achy, chronic inflammation heightens your susceptibility to health conditions like heart disease, diabetes, and clogged arteries. If you want to perform your best and increase your longevity, minimizing chronic inflammation in your body is key.
Here are 5 tips for cutting added sugar from your diet:
Check your drinks
One can of soda has around 10tsp of added sugar, which amounts to nearly a ¼ cup of sugar. Soda, however, isn’t the only culprit. Store bought juices, smoothies, teas, and lemonade are often packed with sugar and other artificial sweeteners. Check the label and aim for zero grams of added sugar in all beverages you drink. If you can’t give up drinks with added sugar completely, set a number of drinks with added sugar you can have weekly and stick to it. When ordering drinks at restaurants or coffee shops, order drinks unsweetened and add any sweetener you need yourself—that way you can control the amount of sugar added. As an alternative to soda, try infusing water with seasonal fruits and herbs.
We are big fans of smoothies here at TB12 so check out our Anti-Inflammatory Turmeric Smoothie, Pumpkin Spice Protein Smoothie, or our Orange Creamsicle Smoothie to satisfy your sweet tooth without added sugar! Pairing protein with naturally occurring sugar helps you stay full for longer and regulates your blood sugar levels.
A pinch less
Literally. If you’re someone who adds sugar (or artificial sweetener) to your coffee or tea this tip is a great one for you! Here’s what you do: Grab your sugar packets and pinch some sugar under your fingers. Whatever you pinch, doesn’t go in your drink. After a week or two, pinch a little more and so on. If you do this gradually, you won’t notice the decrease in sweetness and you will still find your drink satisfying.
Pro-tip: Cinnamon and cardamom have anti-inflammatory properties so try adding a few dashes to your morning coffee or tea for a subtle sweetness without added sugar!
Read the label
The new nutrition facts label requires brands to disclose how much added sugar is in their products. If there’s more than 5 grams of added sugar per serving, consider skipping it or reduce added sugar in subsequent meals/snacks. The American Heart Association recommends no more than 25g (6tsp) of added sugar daily for women and 36g (9tsp) for men.
Many sauces, dressings, and condiments are loaded with added sugar even if they don’t taste overly sweet. Try looking for low-sugar options (that don’t have artificial sweeteners) and focus on using herbs, spices, and whole foods to add flavor and depth to your meals.
Eat More Fruit
Fruit is called nature’s candy for a reason! If you like to add sugar to oatmeal or cereal in the morning, try adding a seasonal fruit instead. Fruit still gives you sweetness, but without added sugar and with the benefits of naturally occurring vitamins and minerals. If you’re opting for canned or frozen fruit, make sure there isn’t any sugar sneakily added!
Out of sight out of mind
Rather than leaving sweets on the countertop, try putting them in cabinets. Simply removing sweets from your line of sight can decrease your interest in them and the added effort of reaching for them gives you time to decide if you really want it. Keeping whole foods prepped and accessible in your fridge for when you get hungry is a great way to lessen the chance you’ll opt for a snack with loads of added sugar.