One of the best things you can do for your health is to cut back on sugar. Eating too much sugar (specifically refined sugar) increases your risk of diabetes, obesity, heart disease, and more. The problem is, so much of the Western diet revolves around it. So, cutting back on sugar can seem like a big feat. Luckily, it’s simpler and easier than you think.
To help you find ways to scale back your sugar intake, we’re sharing our favorite simple ways you can reduce your sugar intake each day.
7 Simple Ways to Reduce Your Daily Sugar Intake
1. Drink more water. I know, I know. “Just drink more water!” has been the answer to “I’m hungry” for years, but that’s because it really does help! By staying fully hydrated throughout the day, your body has a better sense of knowing when it’s really experiencing hunger as opposed to salt and sugar cravings.
2. Ditch the sodas – even the sugar-free ones. So much of the extra sugar we consume (without even realizing it) doesn’t even come from the foods we eat –many of us may actually be drinking all of those extra grams of sugar each day. Think iced tea, your morning latte, and even your daily glass of milk-all of these drinks contain sugar. And, not only that, but drinking soda is a quick way to consume far beyond the recommended daily amount in just a short amount of time.
So, what’s the alternative…sugar free drinks? Unfortunately, this isn’t always the right answer as many sugar-free drinks contain yucky sugar alternatives made of chemicals that are just as harmful. If you want to wean yourself off of sugary drinks, use Stevia or monk fruit powder. These are natural, and plant-based, and don’t carry the same risks as artificial sweeteners.
So, the bottom line here is to make your own iced tea and latte at home, and use a natural sweetener where you can control how much you add to your drink.
3. Eat fresh, not processed. If you read each and every label of every item you buy at the grocery store, you’d be shocked by the amount of sugar that’s hidden inside – especially when it comes to processed items. Instead of reaching for pre-made, boxed, or packaged foods, aim for whole and fresh foods instead. For example, trade out that snack package of pretzels for a cut-up apple with natural peanut butter.
4. Snack (healthily) more often. When you let yourself get to the point of being absolutely starving, it’s easy to start craving foods that are packed with sugar and empty calories. Make sure you eat regularly during the day – try five smaller-sized meals or three meals and a healthy snack to prevent your body from going into “crave” mode.
5. Make your own salad dressing. Like we mentioned before, packaged foods are usually chock-full of sugar, and salad dressings are one of the biggest culprits. An easy way to cut back on unnecessary sugar is to make your own salad dressing at home. A simple rule to making your own vinaigrette is to remember the ratio: three parts oil to one part vinegar. Our fav picks include olive or avocado oil mixed with a bit of balsamic vinegar – delish!
6. Avoid mixed cocktails. Alcohol, in general, is notorious for being high in sugar, so when you mix that with soda or juice, the sugar content can quickly get out of hand.
If you want to partake in a few adult beverages, limit your sugar intake by making choices like wine, straight spirits, or choose soda water as a mixer. Of course, no alcoholic beverage can be sugar-free, so remember to sip in moderation.
7. Opt for dark chocolate. If a chocolate addiction is causing you to consume a bit more sugar than you’d like, you might want to try switching to dark chocolate instead. It contains less sugar, lowers blood pressure, reduces inflammation, and helps fight aging. Yes, please! The trick though is to stick to 70% or darker dark chocolate and to make sure it’s unsweetened.
The Bottom Line
Remember that making changes to your diet and eating habits takes time. It’s important not to take on too much change at once, otherwise, you’ll be on a fast path to failure. Instead, start to make one adjustment to your eating habits until you’ve got it down pat. It may feel strange or hard at first, but after a few weeks, it’ll just become a new habit. Then, you move on to the next small change. So on and so forth! Soon, you’ll be living a healthier lifestyle with fewer sugar cravings.