14 simple ways to stop eating a lot of sugar

Eating too much sugar is one of the worst things you can do with your body. It can have many negative effects on your health.

It has been shown to contribute to obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, cancer and tooth decay (1, 2, 3, 4, 5).

While sugar is naturally found in foods such as fruits and vegetables, this type has little effect on blood sugar and is considered very healthy.

Fruits and vegetables also contain many healthy vitamins and minerals.

The danger is additional Sugars in processed foods.

The average American currently consumes about 17 teaspoons (68 grams) of added sugar per day (6).

This is much more than the upper daily limit recommended by some experts, which is 6 teaspoons (25 grams) for women and 9 teaspoons (37 grams) for men (7).

This article lists 14 simple ways to stop eating so much sugar.

1. Reduce consumption of sugar-filled drinks

Some popular drinks contain a lot of added sugar.

Sodas, energy drinks, sports drinks and fruit drinks provide an amazing 44% of the added sugar in the American diet (8).

So-called "healthy" drinks, such as smoothies and fruit juices, may still contain amounts that make you cry.

For example, 15.2 ounces (450 ml) of 100% apple juice contain more than 12 teaspoons (49 grams) (9).

Your body does not recognize the calories in drinks the same way it does with food. Drinks do not make you feel full, so people who consume a lot of calories from drinks do not eat less to compensate (10).

Studies have consistently shown that reducing the intake of sugary drinks can help you lose weight (11, 12, 13).

Here are some better options for low sugar drinks:

  • Water: It's free and has zero calories.

  • Sparkling water with a splash of fresh lemon or lime: Homemade soda

  • Water with mint and cucumber: Incredibly refreshing in warm weather.

  • Herbal teas or fruits: Drink hot or cold with ice.

  • Tea and coffee: Stick to tea without sugar or white or black coffee.

Reducing the consumption of sugary drinks can greatly reduce your sugar intake and help you lose weight.

Summary: Avoiding sugary drinks, such as soft drinks, energy drinks and some fruit drinks, will drastically reduce your sugar intake and may help you lose weight.

2. Avoid desserts loaded with sugar

Most desserts do not provide much nutritional value.

They are loaded with sugar, which causes spikes in blood sugar and can make you feel tired, hungry and anxious about more sugar.

Desserts based on cereals and dairy products, such as cakes, pies, donuts and ice cream, represent more than 18% of the intake of added sugar in the American diet (14).

If you really feel the need for something sweet, try these alternatives:

  • Fresh fruit: Naturally sweet and full of fiber, vitamins and minerals.

  • Greek yogurt with cinnamon or fruit: Rich in calcium, proteins and vitamin B12.

  • Baked Fruit With Cream: Try pears, apples or plums.

  • Dark chocolate: In general, the higher the cocoa content, the lower the sugar.

  • A handful of dates: They are naturally sweet and extremely nutritious.

The exchange of heavy desserts in sugar for fresh or baked fruit not only reduces sugar intake, but also increases fiber, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants in your diet.

Summary: Desserts, such as ice cream, cakes and cookies, are loaded with sugar and provide little nutrition. Switch to fresh or baked fruits to reduce your sugar intake and increase your intake of fiber, vitamins and minerals.

3. Avoid sauces with a lot of sugar

Sauces such as tomato sauce, barbecue sauce and sweet chili sauce are common in most kitchens. However, most people are not aware of their amazing sugar content.

A single spoonful (15 grams) of ketchup can contain 1 teaspoon (4 grams) (15).

Although, some varieties do not have added sugars. Always read the label to make sure you are choosing the lower sugar content option.

Here are some other options to spice up your food:

  • Herbs and spices, fresh or dried: It does not contain sugar or calories and may have additional health benefits.

  • Fresh chile Give your food a kick without sugar.

  • Yellow mustard: Tasty and practically does not contain sugar or calories.

  • Vinegar: No sugar and no calories, with a taste similar to ketchup. Some vinegars and balsamic creams may contain sugar.

  • Harissa pasta: It can be bought or made and is a good replacement for sweet chili sauce.

  • Pesto: Fresh and nutty, ideal for sandwiches or eggs.

  • Mayonnaise: Although it has no sugar, it is high in fat, so be careful if you are trying to lose weight.

Summary: The common table sauces can contain a shocking amount of sugar. Always read the label to make sure you choose sugar-free options or use herbs and spices to flavor your food.

4. Eat full fat foods

The low-fat options of your favorite foods (peanut butter, yogurt, salad dressing) are everywhere.

If you have been told that fat is bad, it may feel natural to look for these alternatives, instead of the full versions, when trying to lose weight.

However, the disturbing truth is that they generally contain more sugar and, sometimes, more calories than their full-fat counterparts.

A 4-ounce serving (113 grams) of low-fat vanilla yogurt contains 4 teaspoons (16 grams) of sugar and 96 calories.

The same amount of plain full-fat yogurt contains just over one teaspoon (5 grams) of natural milk sugar and only 69 calories (16, 17).

Another example is an 8 ounce coffee (237 ml) made with whole milk and without added sugar, which contains half a teaspoon (2 grams) of natural milk sugar and 18 calories (18).

In contrast, the same amount of a low-fat mocha drink contains 6.5 teaspoons (26 grams) of added sugar and 160 calories (19).

It has also been shown that high sugar consumption causes weight gain, which negates the reason why you could have chosen a low-fat food in the first place (20, 21).

When you try to reduce sugar consumption, it is often better to choose the full version.

Summary: Low-fat foods may contain more sugar and calories than full versions. It is often best to choose full versions when you try to reduce your sugar intake.

5. Eat whole foods

Whole foods have not been processed or refined. They are also free of additives and other artificial substances.

At the other extreme are the ultra-processed foods. These are prepared foods that contain salt, sugar and fats, but also substances that are not often used in home cooking.

These substances can be artificial flavors, colorants, emulsifiers or other additives. Examples of ultra-processed foods are soft drinks, desserts, cereals, pizzas and cakes.

Ultra-processed foods differ from standard processed foods, which generally only have minimum ingredients added, all of which you can find in a standard kitchen.

Examples of standard processed foods are plain bread and cheese (22).

90% of the sugars added to the average diet of Americans come from ultra-processed foods, while only 8.7% come from foods prepared from scratch at home using whole foods (22).

And it's not just junk food that contains large amounts of it.

Apparently healthy options like canned pasta sauce can also contain alarming amounts. One serving (128 grams) can contain almost 3 teaspoons (11 grams) (23).

Try to cook from scratch when possible to avoid added sugars. You do not have to cook elaborate meals. Simple tricks like marinating meat and fish in herbs, spices and olive oil will give you delicious results.

Summary: Whole foods are free of sugar and other additives that are commonly found in processed foods. Eating more whole foods and cooking from scratch will reduce your sugar intake.

6. Check for sugar in canned foods

Canned foods can be a useful and inexpensive addition to your diet, but they can also contain a lot of added sugar.

Fruits and vegetables contain natural sugars. However, they are not a problem since they do not affect your blood sugar level in the same way that added sugar does.

Avoid canned foods that are packaged in syrup or that contain sugar in the list of ingredients. The fruit is sweet enough, so opt for versions labeled with "in own juice" or "without added sugar".

If you buy canned fruits or vegetables that have added sugar, you can remove them by rinsing them with water before eating them.

Summary: Canned foods, including canned fruits and vegetables, may contain added sugar. Always read the labels to make sure you choose the versions without it.

7. Beware of so-called "healthy" processed snacks

Most people know that sweets and cookies contain a lot of sugar, so they can look for "healthy" snack alternatives.

Surprisingly, snacks such as granola bars, protein bars and dried fruit may contain as much sugar, if not more, than their unhealthy rivals, such as chocolate bars.

Some granola bars can contain up to 8 teaspoons (32 grams) (24).

The dried fruit is full of fiber, nutrients and antioxidants. However, it is also full of natural sugar, so it should be consumed in moderation.

Some dried fruits also contain high amounts of added sugar. To avoid this, look for ingredient labels that say "100% fruit."

Or try these healthy snack ideas instead:

  • A handful of nuts: Packed with good calories, protein and healthy fats.

  • Mix of nuts: Make sure they are just nuts and dried fruits, with no added sugar.

  • Without added sugar Full of protein and low in calories.

  • Hard-boiled egg: This superfood is rich in proteins, vitamins and minerals.

  • Fresh fruit: It contains natural sugar to satisfy those sugar cravings.

Do not be fooled by the "healthy" marketing messages in some sandwiches. Get ready and take low-sugar snacks when you're on the move.

Summary: So-called healthy snacks, such as granola bars and protein, can contain a lot of added sugar. Prepare and bring low-sugar snacks such as nuts and fresh fruit when you leave home.

8. Avoid sugar-filled breakfast foods

Breakfast cereals are among the worst when it comes to added sugar.

One report found that some of the most popular contained more than half of their weight in added sugar.

A cereal in the report contained more than 12 teaspoons (50 grams) per serving, which made it 88% sugar by weight.

In addition, the report found that granola, which is generally marketed as "healthy," has more sugar than any other type of cereal, on average.

Popular breakfast foods, such as pancakes, waffles, muffins and jams, are also loaded with added sugar.

Switch to these breakfast options with low sugar content:

  • Hot Oats Add a bit of chopped fruit if you like sweet.

  • Greek yogurt: Add fruit and nuts to get good extra calories.

  • Eggs: Boiled, poached, scrambled or as an omelette.

  • Avocado: Packed full of nutrition and healthy fats for energy.

Choosing a low sugar option with high protein and fiber content at breakfast will help you feel satisfied until lunchtime, avoiding unnecessary snacks.

Summary: Breakfast cereals are among the worst culprits for added sugar, along with pancakes, waffles and jams. Switch to options with low sugar content, such as eggs, oatmeal or plain yogurt.

9. Read the labels

Eating less sugar is not as easy as simply avoiding sweet foods. You've already seen that you can hide in unlikely foods, including some breakfast cereals, granola bars and dried fruits.

However, some tasty foods, such as bread, may also contain a lot of added sugar. Two slices can contain 1.5 teaspoons (6 grams) (25).

Unfortunately, it is not always easy to identify the added sugars in a food label. Current food labels do not distinguish between natural sugars, such as those in milk or fruit, and added sugars.

To see if a food has added sugars, you should check the list of ingredients. It is also important to consider the order in which the sugar appears on the list, since the ingredients are listed in order of the highest percentage first.

Food companies also use more than 50 other names to add sugar, which makes it harder to detect. Here are some of the most common:

  • Corn syrup with high fructose

  • Cane sugar or juice

  • Maltose

  • Dextrose

  • The inverted sugar

  • Rice syrup

  • Molasses

  • Candy

Fortunately, the identification of sugar in packaged foods in the United States is now much easier.

The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has changed its rules so that companies have to show the amount of added sugar in their products on the ingredient label in grams, along with a percentage of the daily value (26).

Companies have until 2018 to change their labels to comply.

Summary: Always read food labels to verify sugar by its many names. The closer to the beginning of the ingredient list, the higher the percentage of sugar contained in the product.

10. Eat more protein and fat

A high intake of sugar is related to an increase in appetite and weight gain.

Conversely, a diet low in added sugar but high in protein and fat has the opposite effect, reducing hunger and food intake.

The added sugar in the diet, especially fructose, increases appetite. The signals that usually tell your brain that it is full do not work properly, which can lead to overeating and weight gain (27, 28).

On the other hand, protein has been shown to reduce appetite and hunger. If you feel full, you are less likely to want the quick fix of the hunger that sugar provides (29).

It has also been shown that the protein directly reduces food cravings. One study showed that increasing protein in the diet by 25% reduced cravings by 60% (30).

The fat is very high in energy. It contains 9 calories per gram, compared to 4 calories per gram in protein or carbohydrates.

A high intake of fat is also associated with reduced appetite. Depending on the fat content of a food, the fat receptors in the mouth and intestine alter the way it is digested. This causes a reduction in appetite and, subsequently, the intake of calories (31).

To reduce sugar cravings, stock up on proteins and whole foods rich in fat, such as meat, fish, eggs, whole milk products, avocados and nuts.

Summary: A high intake of sugar is related to an increase in appetite and weight gain. It has been shown that eating more protein and fat has the opposite effect, reducing appetite and cravings.

11. Consider natural sweeteners

For some people, sugar can be as addictive as drugs or alcohol. In fact, studies have shown that it can affect the brain in a way similar to that of some medications (32, 33).

The addiction to sugar produces cravings and a level of "tolerance", which means that it must be consumed more and more to satisfy those cravings (34).

It is also possible to suffer from sugar withdrawal.

Studies have found that rats experienced signs of anxiety and depression after stopping a diet high in sugar (35, 36).

This shows that giving up sugar can be very difficult for some people. If you are struggling, there are some naturally sweet alternatives that are really good for you.

  • Stevia: Extracted from the leaves of a plant called Stevia rebaudianaIt has virtually no calories and has been shown to help reduce blood pressure and blood sugar in people with diabetes (37, 38).

  • Erythritol It is naturally found in fruits, it only contains 6% of the calories of sugar, but it is much sweeter, so it only takes a little bit. It also does not cause peaks of sugar in the blood (39).

  • Xylitol: A sweetener that is naturally found in many fruits and vegetables. It does not cause spikes in blood sugar (40).

Once you reduce your sugar intake, you will adapt to enjoying foods that are less sweet.

Summary: Sugar can be addictive for some people. If you consider that giving up sugar is particularly difficult, natural sweeteners such as stevia, erythritol and xylitol can help.

12. Do not store sugar in the house

If you keep foods high in sugar in the house, you are more likely to eat them.

It takes a lot of willpower to stop if you just have to go to the pantry or the fridge to get a hit of sugar.

Although cravings for snacks and sweet foods can occur at any time of the day or night, they can get worse at night.

Evidence shows that your circadian rhythm, or your internal clock, increases hunger and the cravings for sweet and starchy foods at night (41).

It is important to keep in mind how you will be distracted when you feel the need to eat something sweet.

Studies have shown that distraction, like making puzzles, can be very effective in reducing cravings (42).

If that does not work, try to keep some healthy and low sugar snacks at home to eat them.

Summary: If you have sugar-filled snacks in the house, you are more likely to reach them when cravings occur. Consider using distraction techniques if you feel cravings and have low-sugar snack options on hand.

13. Do not buy when you're hungry

If you have ever been buying when you are hungry, you know what can happen.

Not only do you buy more food, but you also tend to put less healthy options in your shopping cart.

It has been shown that buying while hungry not only increases the amount of food purchased, but also affects the type of food you buy (43).

In a controlled study, 68 participants fasted for five hours. Half of the participants were allowed to eat as many wheat crackers as they liked just before shopping, while the other half went shopping on an empty stomach.

They found that the hungry group bought more high-calorie products, compared to those who were less hungry (44).

In another study, 82 grocery buyers were seen to see if the time of day they went shopping had any effect on their purchases.

The study found that those who bought between 4 and 7 pm, around dinner time, when they were likely to be hungry, bought more high-calorie products than those they bought between 1 and 4 pm, shortly after of the lunch (44).

Summary: Research has shown that if grocery shoppers are hungry, they tend to buy more high-calorie foods. Try to eat a healthy meal or snack before going shopping.

14. Get enough sleep

Good sleep habits are incredibly important for your health. Lack of sleep has been linked to depression, lack of concentration and reduced immune function (45, 46, 47).

The link between lack of sleep and obesity is well known. But recently, researchers discovered that lack of sleep also affects the types of foods you eat (48, 49).

One study analyzed this phenomenon in 23 healthy adults. Their brains were scanned using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), first after sleeping through the night and then after a sleepless night.

The researchers found that the function of the frontal lobe, the part of the brain that controls decision-making, was affected after a night of insomnia.

In addition, the area of ​​the brain that responds to the rewards was stimulated and controlled the motivation and desire.

These changes meant that participants preferred high-calorie, sweet and salty foods when deprived of sleep (50).

Another study found that people who went to bed late and did not sleep through the night consumed more calories, junk food and soft drinks, and fewer fruits and vegetables, compared to those who went to bed earlier and slept through the night (51).

So going to bed early and sleeping well can help you reduce your sugar intake.

Summary: Lack of sleep makes people prefer high-calorie, sweet and salty foods over healthy foods like fruits and vegetables. Sleep well at night to help you eat less sugar.

The bottom line

The average American consumes more than double the recommended maximum amount of added sugar per day.

Excess sugar in the diet can be incredibly harmful and has been linked to many chronic diseases, such as cancer, type 2 diabetes, heart disease and obesity.

It is important to avoid obvious sources of sugar in your diet, such as desserts and sodas, but you should also consider the hidden sugar in some common processed foods, such as sauces, low-fat foods and so-called snacks. " healthy. "

Choose a diet based on whole foods, instead of highly processed alternatives, to have total control of your sugar intake and not consume an excessive amount.

Reference: https: //www.healthline.com/nutrition/14-ways-to-eat-less-sugar


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