10 Simple Steps that Reduce Sugar in Your Diet

10 Simple Steps that Reduce Sugar in Your Diet

Life is sweet, so the saying goes, but life has become too sweet for many of us. Sugar consumption has rocketed in the western world, with Americans consuming 50% more sugar than they did in the 1950s.

Combined with a less active lifestyle, this has led to a health time bomb that seriously worries doctors and dieticians. Not only does sugar cause tooth decay, but it’s also responsible for the significant rise in cases of Type II diabetes, obesity (with all its associated health risks). It even threatens to limit the life expectancy of the younger generation.

The problem stems from the fact that we are genetically programmed to like sweet foods—a hangover from the days when we had to expend high energy levels to find food or work the land.

Food manufacturers want to produce the food we love, so most put sugar into processed foods to attract us. But the world is waking up, and more and more of us realize that we need to cut down (or even eliminate) sugar in our diet.

Fortunately, we can take some simple steps in sugar in our diet to reeducate our taste buds and reawaken our appetite for the natural taste of food. Here are ten of the most useful.

#1. Accept that this change is permanent

Just swearing off sugar for a few weeks or months won’t solve the problem. The only sure-fire way to succeed in reducing sugar is to accept that your diet has to undergo a permanent overhaul—not just a temporary change that lets you lose weight, for example.

#2. Be prepared for a fight

You may think you could never live without sugar in your coffee or on your cereal, but in reality, our bodies have become addicted to sugar. After a while, you’ll find your cravings lessen and eventually disappear, but this will probably take a while—be ready for your body to put up a fight at first.

#3. Put the sugar out of sight

Reserving sugar for rare occasions (such as baking a birthday cake) means putting it away, so it’s not constantly tempting you. If you automatically reach for the sugar bowl at breakfast or for your morning coffee, you’ll find it easier to resist by getting rid of it altogether.

#4. Don’t add sugar to your food

A sprinkle of sugar on your cereal or into a fruit salad may not seem like a big deal, but if you’re going to retrain your taste buds, then you need to get used to the way food tastes. After a while, you’ll find that fresh fruit has its natural sweetness, and you can substitute syrup in your oatmeal with a sprinkling of blueberries instead.

#5. Buy sugar-free drinks

Sodas are often the chief culprits in pushing up sugar consumption (especially for kids), so buy sugar-free varieties instead. However, artificial sweeteners won’t help lessen your craving for sweet tastes, and they also have other health implications. Limited amounts of fruit juice and plenty of water are the best options for keeping yourself hydrated.

#6. Learn the alternative names for sugar

This battle is not only about the white stuff. There are many names for different kinds of sugar, including syrups (e.g., corn syrup and maple syrup), sucrose, dextrose, and even honey!

#7. Become a packet sleuth

Once you know the alternative names for sugar, you can identify them on the packaging. You’ll be amazed by the presence of sugar in many processed foods, including soups, yogurt, canned vegetables and beans, and much more.

#8. Learn to cook from scratch

Cooking your food means you can be certain there aren’t hidden sugars in your diet, so make your soups, casseroles, and other dishes. You can always batch cook and freeze to help you manage busy weeknights.

#9. Experiment with substitutions

Who can adjust classic sugar recipes like cakes and sponges to contain less sugar while still tasting great—for example, try a substitute like a grated apple. Experiment with your favorite recipes, and you can still enjoy a little sweetness without the guilt.

#10. Eat regularly

Your body needs a constant supply of energy to keep going all day, so eat little and often, maybe by including healthy snacks in your diet. This way, you won’t be hit by hunger pangs when it’s tempting to grab a sugary donut.