Most of us start our day with cereal followed by coffee and a bagel. Soda with our meals and cookies and cakes to snack on is the usual thing to do. We consume a lot of sugar without even registering it. If you are not into a rigorous fitness routine, chances are, all this sugar adds to the extra calories and goes straight to your gut or tushy. The estimated annual medical cost of obesity in the United States was $147 billion in 2008 US dollars in 2017~2018. Here’s how to reduce sugar intake and pave way for good health.
Ages before refined sugar made it to our tables, people were still eating sweet things. This means they knew healthier ways of adding taste to their cakes and pies.
Eating too much-refined sugar does a lot of harm to your whole metabolism. It has been proven to contribute to obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, cancer and tooth decay. Shunning sugar is the first step towards healthier eating habits. If we scrutinize the ingredients of everything we consume daily, we will realize that most of them contain sugar at least in some quantity.
Before you go nuts and throw out everything sweet from your kitchen take a moment to properly understand the official sugar recommendation and the difference between added sugar and naturally-occurring sugar.
Fruits, vegetables, dairy and grains all have naturally occurring sugar or Sucrose and Fructose. This goes not contribute to the calorie count like an energy bar or soda would. Which means it would not contribute to weight gain directly. The USFDA defines “added sugars” as all sugars that are added during the processing of foods. This includes sugars from syrups, honey, and concentrated fruit or vegetable juices.
To adopt a healthy lifestyle we need to cut back on added sugars, not all sugar. This means we have to be extra cautious while picking up stuff from the supermart aisles. To simplify things just read the ingredients and know what you are looking to avoid. A clever packaging trick is to use one of the 56 names of sugar which should not fool you.
Name/Types of Process Sugar
- cane sugar
- dried cane syrup
- dried cane juice
- fruit juice concentrates
- high-fructose corn syrup
- brown rice syrup
- maple syrup
- brown sugar
- sucrose, glucose, fructose, dextrose, maltose—or any word ending in “-ose”
To avoid intake of added sugar you can switch to some habits which will not completely usurp your routine but may change it only slightly.
Suggested Read: Can We Substitute Sugar for Honey?
How to Reduce Sugar Intake
- Stay away from soda, energy drinks or canned juices. Instead, drink fresh juice or various kinds of tea whenever possible.
- Also avoid compensating with Splenda, Sweet n’ Low, diet soda and sugar-free candy. Fake sugars have been found to cause weight gain.
- If you must con summed baked goods try replacing sugar with honey or applesauce. This may require tweaking the recipe a bit or buying from bakers who bake with natural sweeteners.
- Snack on fruits instead of energy bars.
- Make sure your dried fruits are not dipped in sugar or juice concentrates to improve their shelf life.
- Cut out on portion size. Share desserts and never order a serving for yourself alone
- Beware of the dressings and sauces you use with your health foods.
- Your pancakes will taste refreshing sweet when served with fresh fruit instead of the staple syrup.
90% of the added sugars in the average American’s diet come from ultra-processed foods, whereas only 8.7% comes from foods prepared from scratch at home using whole foods. So you must try to cook a meal from scratch whenever possible. Apart from the creative satisfaction, it will assure you of having a minimum sugar diet.
All this emphasis on reducing sugar in your diet is not only to help you lose weight. The weight loss is accompanied by a lot of physical and mental changes that make you feel wonderful and energetic.
Benefits of Consuming Sugar-free or Low Sugar Diet
1. When you cut out on added sugar and replace the carbs with proteins you feel more energetic throughout the day with the slow release of energy as your food is slowly digested.
2. You start reducing belly fat gradually.
3. You are better protected against the risk of type 2 diabetes.
4. Quitting sugar helps your mind stay sharp.
5. The weight loss associated with reducing the intake added sugar reduces your risk of heart attack, stroke, kidney damage, and other serious diseases.
6. When you quit sugar you save a lot of money. You spend less on beverages and desserts and you also spend on dentists to avoid tooth decay. Very few medical policies cover dentist’s visits.
7. Reduced sugar intake helps you breathe easy. A high sugar diet contributes to the risk of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
8. You have clear skin and breakouts are also subdued.
Sugar is an industry and like all commercial activities, it runs on money. Capitalists do not have much value for conservation and community health. It is up to us, the consumers to choose wisely and reduce our consumption of added sugars to save our health and even the earth in the long run. Sugarcane is a water-intensive crop and is often very destructive to the habitats in which it grows.
It is also known as the ‘hunger crop’ because families of sugarcane workers have lived in extreme poverty, hunger, and misery for generations. When you cut back on sugar it shows that you do not support plantation owners and companies that perpetuate these violations.
Suggested Read: Is Sugar Addictive? Truth About Sugar Addiction
While it may be impossible to completely avoid your favorite desserts, breads or drinks, the trick here is finding a balance. So now you know how to reduce sugar intake, these small habitual changes will go a long way in ensuring you stay healthy and wealthy and also save the environment over the years.