10 Easy Ways to Slash Sugar from Your Diet
Cut the sweetness
You may not be eating Oreos by the roll or guzzling cans of Coke, but that doesn't mean sugar's absent from your diet. You're likely eating sugar throughout the day without even realizing it, says Amari Thomsen, RD, owner of Chicago-based nutrition consulting practice Eat Chic Chicago. Sugar is added to foods that don't even taste all that sweet, like breads, condiments, and sauces. And it adds up: although the American Heart Association recommends women consume no more than six teaspoons of added sugar per day (or about 100 calories), most of us take in double that. (One note: we're talking about added sugar, not the naturally occurring sugars found in dairy and fruit.) A high-sugar diet boosts your odds of tooth decay, heart disease, and diabetes, not to mention weight gain. Slash your sugar intake now with these 10 expert tips.
Read food labels
Learn sugar's aliases
Once you know where sugar hides, you can start making changes. One strategy: buy foods labeled "no added sugar" or "unsweetened." You'll find unsweetened versions of these common foods in most grocery stories: non-dairy milk like almond and soy, nut butters (look for those made with only nuts and salt), applesauce, oatmeal, and canned fruit (they should be packed in juice—not syrup).
Don't go cold turkey
Think protein and fat
Unhealthy carbs loaded with sugar can cause blood sugar to rise rapidly (and dive just as quickly, leaving you hungry again). To minimize this rapid rise and fall, pair protein, healthy fats, and fiber with your meal, all of which can slow down the release of blood sugar in your body and keep you full for longer. (At breakfast, that means adding almonds to your usual oatmeal or pairing eggs with your morning toast, and for your midday snack, a slice of turkey breast or cheese along with your apple, suggests Thomsen.) Fats are a key player because they help keep you fuller for longer, thus helping to decrease your desire for sugar, adds Sanfilippo. Focus on fats like avocados, nuts, seeds, and heart-healthy oils like olive oil, walnut oil, and coconut oil.
Never go fake
When you're reducing your sugar intake, you may be tempted to switch to artificial sugars for your sweet fix. But resist reaching for the diet soda, sugar-free candy, and packets of fake sugar in your latte. "These can mess up your taste for sweet," says Sanfilippo. "When you eat something sweet, your body expects calories and nutrition, but artificial sugars don't give your body those things." That may be why fake sugars are associated with weight gain—not loss, according to a 2010 review in the Yale Journal of Biology and Medicine.
Add more flavor
Don't drink it
Related: 16 Easy, Guilt-Free Cookie Recipes