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Sugar has been linked to obesity, diabetes, cancer, and Alzheimer’s disease and is over consumed by the American population. Here are some simple and easy tips to reduce sugar intake and lead a healthier lifestyle!
The average American consumes about 17 teaspoons of added sugar per day, which is about twice the daily recommended maximum intake for men and three times that for women. As such, sugar, rather than the notoriously vilified fat, is a major cause of our country’s obesity epidemic. Not only is it a major player in weight gain, sugar has also been directly linked to increasing risks of diabetes, cancer, and Alzheimer’s disease.
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Added sugars are everywhere in the modern diet
The first thing to know is that added sugars are everywhere in the modern diet. They’re in bread, chicken stock, salad dressing, cereal, soda, desserts, and many other products. Their main problem is that they make it very easy to overeat. Foods with added sweeteners are tasty and have a high calorie load but they don’t make you feel very satiated after eating them. In fact, they actually have the opposite effect of tricking you into wanting more food.
While it may seem scary at first, cutting back on sugar isn’t as hard as it seems. The first step is to reduce the more obvious added sugars in your diet – granulated sugar, high fructose corn syrup, honey, stevia, and the like. These are found in abundance in processed foods and can be avoided by a simple check of a product’s ingredients list. Sugars that naturally occur in fruit, vegetables, and dairy are fine because the fiber, vitamins, and minerals that also occur in such foods fill you up and give you more bang for your buck.
For many Americans, breakfast is the most sugar-heavy meal of the day. Many breakfast items have become so packed with added sugars that they are essentially just “morning desserts.” Instead of eating a grain based-breakfast of cereal or toast, consider adding scrambled or fried eggs, fruit, plain yogurt, or some nuts to your breakfast routine. If grains are too hard to give up, consider substituting normal grains you consume for ones like cheerios, plain oatmeal, wheat bread, or homemade granola as healthier options. Additionally, if you drink juice with your meal, keep juice portions small. Natural juice doesn’t have added sweeteners but because juice delivers natural sugar so efficiently, it can still be dangerous. Try to keep juice portions to six ounces or less per day.
Speaking of juices, another big killer is sweetened beverages, which are by far the biggest source of added sugar in the American diet according to the federal government. Ideally, you should eliminate soda of all types from your regular diet. If you can’t do so, drink diet soda instead but even diet soda that contains artificial sweeteners, has been linked to weight gain and unhealthy outcomes. The caffeine and carbonation that soda provides can be found in other healthier alternatives. You can get caffeine from coffee and tea (lightly sweetened or unsweetened) and the carbonation can be found in seltzer. Seltzer, club soda, and sparkling water have been booming in popularity lately and it’s no surprise – they turn hydration into a calorie-free yet fizzy treat. And if these alone aren’t enough, add a spritz of natural juice to plain seltzer to create your own healthy flavors.
While these are just a couple of tips on how to reduce sugar intake, you can be creative with your own diet and finding ways to eliminate excess sources of sugar. It’s a new year – try new things! Maybe you will find your new favorite food or drink along the way! Who knows, maybe this New Year’s Resolution will be the one to stick!
"Foods with added sweeteners are tasty and have a high calorie load but they don’t make you feel very satiated after eating them. In fact, they actually have the opposite effect of tricking you into wanting more food."
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