Our relationship with sugar has become toxic over time, and breaking it off is not easy. Between 2003 and 2010, Americans consumed 14 percent of their daily calories from added sugars. However, the World Health Organization says only 5 percent is ideal. People are now more aware than ever about how harmful sugar is, begging the question of why they are not cutting down on their daily intake.
Over the past 30 years, American adults’ sugar intake has increased by more than 30 percent despite nutritional information being put on labels and healthier alternatives sold in the market. However, these labels can be so misleading that one can no longer tell the difference between health and hype. “All natural” groceries may still have corn syrup, but because it comes from a vegetable, it is still considered healthy. “Sugar free” items may sell well because they use zero calorie Splenda instead of real sugar, but Splenda and other artificial sweeteners contain harmful chemicals such as aspartame, which is not healthier for your body than plain old sugar. In the greater scheme of things, cutting down sugar and artificial sweetener involves immense willpower and it can be difficult to transition.
Unfortunately, the biggest traps of all are the “zero fat” and “reduced fat” trends that the average consumer falls straight into. One would think that by opting to eat less fat, they are making the healthier choice, but really companies replace fat in cookies and granola with more sugar to make it tastier.
Cutting out sugar can be a challenge, but its benefits are unparalleled. Reducing sugar intake over time will reduce your cravings for sugar and it will no longer be a “diet” you are on, but a permanent lifestyle. This lifestyle choice may drastically decrease your chances of having high cholesterol, heart disease, chronic inflammation, high blood pressure, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, Type II diabetes and obesity. One way to make the change is to add fruit to cereal. Instead of adding a tablespoon of honey to sweeten your granola, you can rely on some berries like strawberries and banana to do the trick just fine. Another way is to stop drinking soda. From 2011 to 2014, approximately six in 10 youth (63 percent) and five in 10 adults (49 percent) drank a sugar-sweetened beverage on any given day. This approximates an average of 150 calories of sugar per day just from sodas. Replace coke at the movies with water, and make fruit smoothies at home to get your healthy fix of sweetness.
Next, check sauces and dips; often pizza, pasta sauces, pesto, peanut butter and hummus all have hidden sugars. Different words for sugar sources on food and beverage labels are molasses, liquid fructose, anhydrous dextrose, crystal dextrose and corn syrup. There are many healthy and equally-priced alternatives. All you have to do is read the ingredients! These are some easily available brands that don’t have added sugar: Cedar’s Original Hommus, Whole Foods Original Hummus/Mediterranean Hummus and 365 Peanut/Almond Butters. Also ditch store-bought cereal and energy bars; these are loaded with sugar and honey, causing your blood sugar levels to peak significantly. Finally, halve the quantities of sugar in recipes. Recipes often call for much more sugar than is needed. You can halve the amount of sugar they require while baking without even noticing!
Reducing your sugar intake by replacing sugary goods with whole, nutritious food, can help you lose weight healthfully and get your required amount of vitamins and minerals. It can also help clear acne, reduce mood swings, and prevent lethargy and loss of energy during the course of the day.
A no-sugar diet plan is not permanently feasible. It is safer to start slow, reducing intake gradually before cutting it out completely. Save the sweets for special occasions, and in the meantime, try out some easy, healthy recipes that can be found online. Rest assured, it will satisfy a craving safely!
U.S. Dietary Guidelines confirm beverages, including soft drinks, can be part of a balanced diet when consumed in moderation. America’s beverage companies are helping support American’s efforts to cut back on sugar and calories by offering more products with less sugar or zero sugar, smaller portion sizes, bottled water, and calorie labels on the front of all of our products. Learn more here: BalanceUS.org.