Staying healthy can mean different things to different people. And while there are many diets on the market that recommend eliminating entire food groups and different foods, one thing everyone needs to be thinking about – especially when it comes to weight loss – is sugar! You should be consuming no more than 200 calories of sugar per 2,000 calories diet, i.e., 10% or less of your calories should be sugar. However, the average American eats 2-3 times this much on a daily basis.
But making food swaps to reduce your sugar intake isn’t complicated. You just need to go back to basics, and look at how you can do things differently to ensure you’re not eating more sugar that you think you are.
Here are some easy tips to reduce your sugar intake:
Eat Whole Fruit, Don’t Juice
We all know fruits contain sugars, but the fiber and nutrients contained in fruit make it a healthy trade-off. However, when you blend or juice fruits, they become a much higher glycemic food (the sugar enters your bloodstream faster, which is a bad thing.), This makes blended fruit and fruit juice not as healthy as you might think they are. So if you’re eating fruit, eat it whole and not alone as a smoothie. BUT, adding protein and fat to your fruit smoothie will help mitigate the sugar surge. So if you’re going to juice, be sure to 1) watch your fruit portions, and 2) make sure you add protein (and ideally some fat too).
So while this homemade orange juice recipe uses only oranges and is healthier than store-bought options, be careful about how much you drink, as juicing reduces fiber and can spike your sugar levels.
If you’re craving something sweet, why not try apple slices with peanut butter, peanut butter has been shown to help control blood sugar which can help to reduce sugar cravings and stop those crashes where your body craves something sweet.
Mint is incredibly versatile. It can be used to flavor ice cream, teas, and chocolate bars, and it can be an excellent addition to meals. If you are looking for ways to reduce your sugar intake while still enjoying flavorful food and drinks, then why not try adding mint to your diet in different ways to satisfy your sweet tooth? You can grow fresh mint at home, or buy it from the store and use it as you need to. Plus, mint makes a great air and breath freshener.
By avoiding store-bought foods and making your own versions, you can cut down on your sugar intake and control precisely what you are eating. By making treats at home and your own meals, you can check each ingredient and look for low-sugar or sugar-free changes to help you still eat what you enjoy without the sugar hit that comes along with them.
Choose Dark Chocolate
If you are struggling with sugar cravings and you want to stay away from high-sugar foods, swapping to dark chocolate can help you ward off those cravings. Dark chocolate is high in antioxidants and minerals, and while it is a calorie-dense food that has some sugar, it is preferable to other sugar-laden sweets. Dark chocolate can be consumed in small amounts to satisfy the cravings.
Reducing your reliance on sugar and making healthy food changes requires knowledge and intention to push you through the cravings and help you to make better food choices. Start slowly by using these tips to make small swaps to reduce your sugar intake – and improve your health too!