How to Cut Back On Your Sugar Intake
- Tips for Cutting Back on Your Sugar Consumption
- Natural VS Added Sugar
- Alternatives for Sugar
- Types of Artificial Sweeteners
Tips for Cutting Back on Your Sugar Consumption
As you begin educating yourself on the dangers of too much sugar in your diet and decide to reduce how much you consume, you don’t necessarily need to go cold turkey.
You can do a gradual sugar detox, where you start reducing your sugar intake one small step at a time.
That is what the following information is going to teach you how to do.
Learn the Names of Hidden Sugar
The first step to cutting back on sugar is knowing exactly what types of sugar you need to avoid.
This does not mean to eat less fruits and vegetables since they contain fructose.
Instead, you are focusing on added sugar, which is found in a lot more foods than you might think.
Start learning the hidden names of sugar in products you purchase, then looking for them on labels.
Some common ones include cane sugar, high fructose corn syrup, sucrose, molasses, maple syrup, honey, and brown rice syrup.
While some of these are not necessarily bad for you in small quantities, they are still considered added sugar.
Choose Fresh Fruits and Veggies
Luckily, you can still eat all the fresh produce you want (unless you need to watch your quantities for other reasons).
Fructose does exist in all fruits, but it is natural as long as you are choosing fresh fruits.
You can also look for frozen produce, but check the package to make sure there is absolutely no added sugar.
This is not necessary! A simple change is to just switch to natural produce and avoid the canned stuff.
Reduce Processed and Packaged Food
Another easy way to transition into cutting back on added sugar is to start cooking more at home.
The more meals you cook at home from scratch, the less processed and packaged food you are going to rely on.
Even something as simple as buying a block of cheese to shred it yourself instead of the pre-shredded varieties can cut back on sugar and other additives added to keep that cheese fresh.
Buy your deli meat from the deli instead of in the package, and cook all your meat and fish fresh, without buying it from the frozen food aisle.
Start Finding Sugar-Free Alternatives
You will also want to find alternatives to some of your favorite things, that don’t have added sugars.
For example, if you enjoy flavored drinks, skip the fruit juice and soda since they are loaded with added sugars.
Switch to flavored water or sparkling water.
Just be careful with some sparkling waters as they might contain aspartame, which is an artificial sweetener.
Natural VS Added Sugar
When you think about going sugar-free, you will quickly realize that whole, fresh foods also contain sugar.
However, this is not the same as the added sugar in baked goods, bacon, deli meats, and most processed foods.
It is considered natural sugar, so it should not be counted toward your daily allotment of sugar.
Here are some things to know about the different between added and natural sugar.
The Basics of Natural Versus Added Sugar
People often get confused when they are told to give up sugar or reduce it in their diet, because when you add fresh, clean foods and look at the nutrition, it seems high in sugar.
One thing to keep in mind is that natural sugars should be perfectly fine.
It is the added sugars that are bad for you.
The basic difference between natural and added sugar is that natural sugars already exist in certain foods, while the added sugars do not, and are added later to change the taste of the food.
You might think of added sugar as cane sugar, powdered sugar, and brown sugar, but there are many other variations as well.
These are all considered to be added sugar, since they are using the sweeteners to add sugar to other foods.
You should really try to keep your daily added sugar amount under 25 grams a day, though your doctor might increase or decrease this number depending on your health and dietary guidelines.
Some added sugars include cane sugar, brown sugar, golden sugar, date sugar, and coconut sugar.
There are also other sweeteners sometimes added to foods with different names, also included in the added sugar rule, such as agave, fruit juice concentrate, fructose, maltodextrin, maple syrup, and sucrose.
Why Are Added Sugars Bad for You?
Added sugars affect different people in different ways, but in general, they have quite a few adverse health effects.
They can cause weight gain or make it hard to lose weight, lead to fatigue and drowsiness, spike your blood sugar levels, and lower your immune system.
If you want more energy, go for the natural sugars only.
Your natural sugars are those found naturally in foods without being added to them.
The two main forms include fructose and lactose.
Fructose is often found in fresh fruits and vegetables, while lactose is found in milk.
If you want something sweet, eat more fresh fruits and vegetables and dairy products, and skip all those added sugars.
Alternatives for Sugar
When you are looking to reduce sugar from your normal diet, you might want to still have ways to sweeten up foods or drinks.
While you shouldn’t rely on these to just eat the same way you did before, they can be good for a little treat or to have your morning cup of coffee. Here are some of the healthier alternatives for sugar.
The first alternative for sugar is Stevia, which is one of the best alternative sweeteners you can get.
Some people will refer to it as an artificial sweetener, but it is actually completely natural.
This is extracted from leaves of the stevia shrub, which grows primarily in South America.
The leaves are naturally sweet, so it is a great option when you want to sweeten foods or drinks without using sugar.
It typically comes in either powdered or liquid form, sometimes flavored.
Don’t forget that if you just want something for your sweet tooth without added sugars, you can always have fruit or vegetables.
These contain natural sugars, so they are not considered bad for you.
Your doctor might want you to keep within a certain amount of natural sugars each day, but for the most part, these are one of the best alternatives to sugar out there.
Some of the sweeter fruits include strawberries, raspberries, apples, bananas, and dates.
Another option is to use honey, but this is only good if you use it in low amounts and you are not trying to stick to a low-carb diet.
Honey can sweeten drinks or foods with a much more natural resource that doesn’t have added sugars.
Just remember to use only natural, organic, raw honey and not the bottled kind you get in your local supermarket. Look at the label to make sure it doesn’t have any added sugars.
If you can get local honey, even better!
Your last option is to use maple syrup.
It can sometimes be a little higher in calories, so use it sparingly.
However, a little teaspoon added to your coffee or tea makes it sweeter without using sugar or preservatives.
Like honey, you want to look for a more natural option and always check the label to make sure no added sugar is in it.
Maple syrup is loaded with nutrients, so it’s really good for you as well.
Try these alternatives for sugar to help you get through the sugar detox and learn to live without added sugar.
What You Should Know About Artificial Sweeteners
Artificial sweeteners often have a bad name, because they can sometimes have adverse effects on your body.
However, this is a much more complicated topic than you might think.
If you’re thinking of cutting back on sugar, but want to try artificial sweeteners, here is some information to know first.
Types of Artificial Sweeteners
The first thing to understand is that they might go by some different names.
You can typically find them on the ingredients list of foods or drinks you are consuming, usually ones that claim to be diet or sugar-free.
For example, do you enjoy adding Splenda as a natural sugar-free option to your coffee?
This is an artificial sweetener known as sucralose. Some others include aspartame (Equal), saccharin (sweet ‘n low), and D-Tagatose.
They Are Not the Same as Added Sugar
One of the common misconceptions is that artificial sweeteners are added sugars.
This is sometimes the case, but not always.
There are also “healthy” versions of added sugars, including maple syrup and honey.
These aren’t really bad for you, but still have a lot of the same effects as sugar.
Artificial sweeteners are only the manmade sweeteners that don’t come from any natural sources.
This also means that sweeteners like Stevia are not included, since it comes from a plant.
Sweeteners Affect Everyone Differently
While the American Heart Association has approved using artificial sweeteners in moderation to replace sugar and help with some of sugar’s side effects, some people don’t react well to them.
There are people who might end up with stomach aches and digestive issues, headaches, and many other side effects.
It is important to test out one artificial sweetener at a time to see how your body reacts to it. You might do better with more of a natural sweetener.
Final Note About Artificial Sweeteners
Like anything you consume, these may affect you completely different than someone else.
And also like everything, you should practice moderation.
If you are trying to reduce your fructose intake because of pre-diabetes or weight control issues, they can be a great alternative for some added sweetness to baked goods or coffee.
However, they should not be relied on to just keep eating the same types of foods as you were before, with the same amount of sweetness.
With a sugar detox, they should be avoided first to see how your body reacts to having no added sugars whatsoever.