Do you have an undeniable love affair with sugar?! Does the sight of chocolate or ice cream make you feel uncontrollable?
It's never a bad time to start taking a good, hard look at your fascination with sugar. Even if you don't think you're eating it that often, sugar has sneakily found it's way into a lot of our everyday food products - including dressings, sauces, snacks, and more! So it's good to at least get a better look at how much you're actually consuming.
Along with being obviously not so great for your waistline, sugar is probably one of the worst ingredients for your health, and having too much of it can affect much more than just your weight loss goals. With blood sugar spikes and drops that can lead to moodiness, tiredness, low energy and even trouble sleeping, it’s time to kick this habit to the curb.
So, join us! Follow along below for 10 tips to cut sugar from your diet, by Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and 310 Community Manager, Erika Fox.
Tips to Reduce Your Sugar Intake From a Registered Dietitian
Ready to reduce the amount of sugar in your diet? I promise that when you start to recognize that healthy foods can be incredibly delicious, you won’t feel deprived, but rather happier and healthier!
1. Clean out the kitchen
If it has added sugar, toss it! Or put it somewhere that's more out of sight like the back of the pantry. Basically, anything that comes in a bag, container, or package that has a label (and a line for added sugar), can fuel your cravings. The good news is… if it’s not within your grasp, your temptation likely will be a forgotten thought.
2. Satisfy your craving with something more nutritious
Instead of reaching for your go-to sugar-filled sweets, try satisfying your sweet tooth with a healthier source. Fruit, smoothies, or even some honey or dark chocolate in moderation are great options.
3. Make things at home
The thing you want to avoid here is all the unnecessary ingredients that are added to foods you typically buy – including artificial sweeteners and sugar (in its many forms). You can avoid these by getting a little creative in the kitchen and making healthier versions of your favorite foods (even desserts)!
Tip: Try swapping out sugar in baked goods for monkfruit sugar, stevia, or even apple sauce.
4. Pay attention to serving sizes
With any type of food (purchased or homemade), it’s also incredibly important to watch your serving sizes. Even fruit can lead you to an unbalanced diet if you're eating it in excess, so remember - everything in moderation! If you're craving something specific like chocolate, try going for a piece rather than the entire bar.
Tip: Check out MyPlate to learn about portion sizes for every food category.
5. Be mindful
Next, this is hands down one of the most important tips when watching your sugar intake. If you’re going to have a small piece of chocolate, enjoy it… Pay attention to how it smells, tastes and your level of satisfaction after eating it. Do not mindlessly scarf down four pieces of chocolate without even realizing you’re doing it!
6. Watch out for sugar-filled beverages
If you think sugar is only in the “really bad” drinks like soda, unfortunately that's not the case. Sugar lurks in so many seemingly healthy drinks, like fruit juices, Gatorade, Vitaminwater, energy drinks, iced teas and more. Instead, try sparkling water, flavoring your own water with fruit, or even look for some sugar-free alternatives to your beverage of choice!
Tip: If you're looking for sugar-free beverages, make sure to avoid artificially sweetened sugar-free drinks (aka diet drinks). Instead, aim for beverages naturally sweetened with stevia, etc.
7. Avoid low-fat foods
You may think you’re doing yourself a favor when you choose low-fat foods but this isn't always the case.
Naturally occurring good fats are your friend! When you choose low-fat foods, what you’re really choosing is foods that likely have more added sugar (to replace the fat that was removed) and a more processed product. Instead, fats like avocado, coconut and MCT oil, nuts, seeds and unsweetened dairy items can satisfy and provide many health benefits.
8. Read your labels
Even so-called “healthy” food items can actually be junk foods in disguise. Some examples of these include high-sugar trail mixes, granola, granola bars, and low-quality protein powders and bars. Always read food labels and scan the ingredient list for impostors…
Tip: Knowing the many names for sugar can help!
9. Eat a balanced diet
It should be your goal to eat a balanced diet during every single meal and snack. What does this look like? Healthy fats, quality protein and unrefined carbohydrates. Getting all of these important nutrients at each meal will help ensure your sugar signals won’t be on full alert after eating.
10. Don't sweat the small stuff!
Finally, remember to not sweat the small stuff. It’s perfectly okay and even healthy to treat yourself every now and then. If you feel like you "fell off track", just get back to your normal routine. As long as you're eating a balanced diet most of the time, a little sugar here and there is ay-okay!