Perhaps, a very pressing topic in health and wellness these days is sugar. How to cut back on consuming it is a major concern for most of us. For ages, the average adult would add a spoon of sugar here and there to food and drinks, it never seemed like a big deal. But over the years, even the food manufacturers started adding sugar to just about everything in the grocery store, even the products that you don’t think of as sweet, for example, crackers and spaghetti sauce.
Today it’s evident that sugar is linked to various illnesses and conditions, and it is likely a major reason behind the rise in obesity and weight gain in this country. Research shows that excess consumption of sugar can lead to high cholesterol and blood pressure and a greater risk of cancer, diabetes, and heart disease. The information below will suggest ways in which you can cut it out for good.
Sugar interrupts with your brain’s satiety signals. Your brain would normally tell you that you’re full, but you can’t hear it over the sugar buzz and it makes you want to eat more. Excess sugar affects the fat-burning enzymes and in turn, encourages fat storage.
We are surrounded by added sweeteners in our kitchens, in restaurants, at schools and offices most of us will eat too much of them unless we consciously decide to do otherwise.
- Reduce your intake of sugar-filled drinks
Some popular drinks contain an enormous amount of added sugar. Sodas, energy drinks, sports drinks, fruit drinks etc contribute 44% of the added sugar in the American diet. The so-called trending "healthy" drinks, such as smoothies and fruit juices, can still contain a large amount of it.
For example, 450 ml of 100% apple juice contains more than 49 grams of sugar. Your body does not identify calories from liquids in the same way it does from food. Drinks don't make you feel as full, so it’s not that people who consume lots of calories from drinks eat less to compensate.
Studies have shown that reducing your intake of sugary drinks can also help with weight loss.
Here are some better options:
- Water: It's free and has zero calories.
- Sparkling water with a little bit of fresh lemon or lime: Homemade Soda.
- Water with some mint and shredded cucumber: Very refreshing in warm weather
- Herbal or fruit teas: Can drink them hot or cold with ice
- Tea and coffee: Move to unsweetened tea or black or flat white coffee
- Avoid Sugary Desserts
Most desserts, such as cakes, pies, doughnuts and ice cream, do not contribute much in the way of nutritional value.
They are filled with sugar, which causes sugar level to spike and in turn leaves you feeling tired, hungry and craving more sugar.
Replacing sugar-heavy desserts for fresh or baked fruit not only reduces your sugar intake but also increases the fiber, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants content in your diet.
If you really feel like having something sweet, try these options:
- Fresh fruits: Naturally sweet and full of fiber, vitamins, and minerals
- Greek yogurt with fruit: Rich in calcium, protein and vitamin B12
- Baked fruit with cream: Use pears, apple or plums - healthy and delicious
- Dark chocolate: Because of the higher the cocoa content, the lower the sugar.
- Dates: They're naturally sweet and extremely nutritious.
- Check for Sugar Content in Canned Foods
Canned Foods may be a cheap and useful addition to your diet, but they can also contain a lot of added sugar.
Fruits and vegetables contain naturally occurring sugars. However, they're not an issue since they do not affect the blood sugar level in the way that added sugar does.
Try and avoid canned foods that are dipped in syrup or have sugar in the ingredients list. Fruit is sweet enough, so go for cans which have labels which say "in own juice" or "no added sugar."
If you do buy canned fruits or vegetables that do have added sugar, you can get rid of some of it by rinsing them in water before consuming them.
- Don't Keep High-Sugar Foods in the House
If you keep food items in the house containing high sugar, you are more likely to eat them. It’s difficult to stop yourself from going till the fridge/kitchen and grab a bite or two.
Although cravings for snacks and sweet foods can occur at any time of the day or night, studies have shown that hunger for sweets may be worse in the evenings. Research has also shown that the best way to get over the caving is by distracting yourself by doing puzzles etc. If that doesn't work for you, then keep some healthy, low-sugar snacks in the house to munch on instead.
- Avoid Processed Snack Foods
Most people know that candy and cookies contain a lot of sugar, so they look for "healthy" snack alternatives like granola bars, protein bars and dried fruit which may contain as much sugar than their unhealthy rivals, such as chocolate bars or maybe more.
Dried fruit is full of fiber, nutrients, and antioxidants but it also contains natural sugar, so it should be eaten in moderation. Some dried fruit may also contain high quantities of added sugar. Be careful, look for ingredients labels that say "100% fruit."
Don't get fooled by the "healthy" advertising messages on some snacks. Be prepared and carry low-sugar snacks with you when you're on the go.
- Avoid Sauces with of Sugar
Sauces such as ketchup, barbecue sauce, and sweet chili sauce are common in most kitchens. However, most people aren't aware of their high sugar content. A single tablespoon (15-gram) serving of ketchup may contain (4 grams) of sugar. However, some varieties have no added sugar. Make sure you read the label to be sure you are choosing the lowest-sugar option.
Sugar consumption is associated with a number of health concerns. Perhaps the most concerning one is obesity. Obesity is a widespread issue in the U.S. where seven out of every 10 adults are overweight or obese and sugar plays a major role in this statistic.
The average American consumes twice as much sugar as what is recommended. That excess sugar adds up to a total of 330 calories each day, which means the average adult is gaining close to 20 pounds a year simply from eating too much sugar. Sugar consumption is a major element contributing to obesity levels.
Find healthy ways to cut sugar from your life to help you lose weight. Follow the easy tips listed above on how to cut back on sugar.