Staying healthy

10 ways to cut the sugar without cutting the fun

When it comes to sugar, too much is risky business for your health. Read 10 ways to cut down on sugar and still eat foods that are tasty and better for you.
August 21, 2023   |   3 minute read
Image of a person prepping a meal in a kitchen filled with fresh vegetables.

We do love our sugar. Too much so. On average, Americans consume three times more sugar than recommended. 

Sugar, under a variety of names, is found in a broad variety of everyday foods—especially processed foods—including high-fructose corn syrup, sucrose, and honey. The most consumed foods with added sugar in the United States are sugar-sweetened beverages (47 percent), snacks and sweets (31 percent), and cereal grains and granola bars (eight percent). Ice cream? Four percent.  

Overindulgence in sugar is bad for most bodies. Check out this list of ills to which sugar can contribute:

  • Lower energy 
  • Lower immune system effectiveness
  • Heart disease, diabetes, and cancer
  • Acne and skin conditions
  • Weight gain
  • Depression
  • Tooth decay

How much is too much? 

According to Dietary Guidelines from the Center of Disease Control (CDC), most people should keep sugar to less than 10 percent of their total daily calories. So, if an adult consumes 2000 calories a day, only 200 (or less) should come from food with added sugars. But cutting down on sugar doesn’t mean turning your life upside down. It can be as simple as making better choices and knowing what you are buying and eating. 

Here are 10 sugar-reduction strategies.

  1. Use a food tracking app to confirm your daily sugar intake. See if you can make the number go down the next day.
  2. Cut down on daily sugary foods such as pastries, sodas, sports drinks, and fruit juice. 
  3. Eat at home. Think whole foods and plain like corn flakes, oats, or yogurt and add fresh fruit yourself.
  4. Watch serving sizes. Do you really need that second helping?
  5. Consume more fruits and vegetables per day so you’ll have less room for sweets.
  6. Look for low-sugar or sugarless alternatives, such as water over soda or low-cal versions of pasta sauce and salad dressings.  
  7. Break bad habits. For example, if you have a cookie every day, try eating one every other day.  
  8. Modify your sugary favs. Love strawberries with shortcake? Keep the strawberries, skip the shortcake. 
  9. Eat fewer snacks and more proper meals. 
  10. Occupy your mouth or distract your brain with something less sugary, like bottled water or chewing gum.

Never replace sugar with foods that are high in saturated fats, such as meat, cheese, cream, and butter. All can lead to other health problems. Again, look instead for whole grains, legumes, nuts, vegetables, and fruit.

Annual preventive care visits with your doctor can help. Together, you can monitor your sugar intake and general health condition now so you can catch potential issues while they’re easier to treat. Consult with your doctor or nutritionist to find the diet that’s right for you. 

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