measuring spoon full of sugar

How to Eat Less Sugar

Do you know how much sugar you eat in a day? The answer might surprise you. Sugars hide in foods you might not suspect.

The American Heart Association recommends a daily sugar intake of 25 grams for women and 37.5 grams for men. However, the average person consumes 85 grams each day, and more than one in three have prediabetes. By understanding different types of sugar and monitoring your diet, you can prevent prediabetes from becoming type 2 diabetes.

Watch your natural sugars

Natural sugars are present in most unprocessed foods. Fruits, vegetables and dairy all contain various types of sugar that your body processes in different ways. Although these foods do contain sugar, they also contain nutrients that are beneficial to your health, and should remain part of any balanced diet.

The challenge is distinguishing natural sugars from added sugars. When additional sugars are added to those naturally present in the food, they don’t contribute healthy nutritional value. To complicate matters further, naturally occurring sugars like honey are considered added sugars if they’re part of the food’s preparation.

Limit your added sugars

It can be tricky to avoid sugars that are added to many packaged and processed foods. Even “healthy” cereals and organic snacks may have a surprising amount of sugars added for flavoring. Canned fruits and vegetables may have sugar added as well, so avoid them if fresh alternatives are available. Be sure to check nutrition labels before tossing “healthy” foods in your cart.

It’s much simpler to cut down on the amount of sugars you add to food yourself. Think about the sugar you add to food: sweet dressings on salads, honey in a cup of tea or white sugar in your morning coffee. Limit the amount you add to these meals, and you can start fighting back against added sugars.

Know your artificial sugars

The FDA has approved a handful of artificial sweeteners, but just because they’re sugar-free doesn’t mean they’re necessarily a healthy substitute. Saccharin, aspartame, sucralose and others are touted as better alternatives to sugar, but they carry their own implications for your diet.

For starters, artificial sweeteners are much more potent than natural sugars. Your body may begin to perceive naturally sweet foods like fruit as “not sweet enough,” and turning to artificial sweeteners may be the only way to satisfy your sweet tooth. These sweeteners lack any nutritional content, and since they’re devoid of calories they may cause you to seek caloric intake elsewhere. In short, eating artificial sweeteners may end up making you eat more, rather than eat less.

 

Lowering your sugar intake can pave the way for a healthier diet. Learn more about how to start eating real foods. Already a diabetes patient? Consider these healthy habits.