Sweet! Here Are 5 Ways to Ease Back on Sugar – hotsmug.com

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Eating too much sugar may be devastating for your health.

Added sugar, which is the sugar found in sodas, sweets, and other processed foods, has been shown to contribute to obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and tooth decay

Research suggests that most Americans eat anywhere from 55–92 grams of added sugar daily, which is equivalent to 13–22 teaspoons of table sugar each day — representing about 12–16% of daily calorie intake

This is significantly more than the Dietary Guidelines for Americans’ recommendation of getting less than 10% of your daily calories from added sugars

The World Health Organization goes a step further, recommending less than 5% of calories from added sugar for optimal health  However, it can be challenging to slash added sugars from your diet.

Why Do We Crave Sugar?

There are many reasons why we go for sweet things.

That appetite may be hardwired. “Sweet is the first taste humans prefer from birth,” says Christine Gerbstadt, MD, RD, a dietitian and American Dietetic Association (ADA) spokeswoman. Carbohydrates stimulate the release of the feel-good brain chemical serotonin. Sugar is a carbohydrate, but carbohydrates come in other forms, too, such as whole grains, fruits, and vegetables.

The taste of sugar also releases endorphins that calm and relax us, and offer a natural “high,” says Susan Moores, MS, RD, a registered dietitian and nutrition consultant in St. Paul, Minn.

Sweets just taste good, too. And that preference gets reinforced by rewarding ourselves with sweet treats, which can make you crave it even more. With all that going for it, why wouldn’t we crave sugar?

The problem comes not when we indulge in a sweet treat now and then, but when we over-consume, something that’s easy to do when sugar is added to many processed foods, including breads, yogurt, juices, and sauces. And Americans do overconsume, averaging about 22 teaspoons of added sugars per day, according to the American Heart Association, which recommends limiting added sugars to about 6 teaspoons per day for women and 9 for men.

5 Ways to Ease Back on Sugar

1. Cut back on juices and colas

Packaged juices and carbonated drinks contain a lot of added sugarπ–you know that already. But did you know that Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health found that people with an increased consumption of sugary beverages have a higher risk of type 2 diabetes?

On the other hand, a Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health study conducted in the US found that reduction of consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages was associated with weight loss. Thus, moving from sugar-laden drinks to water infused with mint and cucumber, herbal teas, or unsweetened tea or coffee is the right way to go.

2. Read product labels

Once a person has managed to cut out the most obvious sugar from their diet, they can turn their attention to other products that contain sugar. Reading product labels can help them identify types of sugars to avoid.

Sugar has many names and is in many different syrups and concentrates. There are at least 61 different names for sugar on food labels. The most common ones include:

  • cane sugar
  • brown sugar
  • corn syrup or high fructose corn syrup
  • evaporated cane juice
  • invert sugar
  • beet sugar
  • barley malt
  • coconut sugar
  • maple syrup
  • agave syrup
  • rice syrup
  • apple or grape juice concentrate
  • honey
  • demerara
  • sucanat
  • panela or piloncillo
  • turbinado
  • muscovado

People should also be aware that any item on an ingredients list ending “-ose” is also a type of sugar. Examples of these ingredients include:

  • sucrose
  • glucose
  • dextrose
  • fructose
  • lactose

Sugars hide in many different supermarket foods. Reading the label is a must for people who want to follow a no-sugar diet. Products such as salad dressing and condiments, pasta sauce, breakfast cereals, milk, and granola bars often have sugar in their ingredients list.

3. Cereals and other foods

Choosing whole, unprocessed breakfast foods – such as an apple, or a bowl of steel-cut or old fashioned oatmeal – that don’t have lengthy ingredient lists is a great way to avoid eating added sugars. Unfortunately, many common breakfast foods such as ready-to-eat breakfast cereals, cereal bars, instant oatmeal with added flavoring, and pastries can contain high amounts of added sugars.

Some ingredient lists mask the amount of sugar in a product. To avoid having “sugar” as the first ingredient, food manufacturers may use multiple forms of sugar– each with a different name – and list each one individually on the nutrient label. By using this tactic, sugars are represented separately in smaller amounts, which makes it more difficult for consumers to determine how much overall sugar is in a product.

  • So don’t be fooled – your body metabolizes all added sugars the same way; it doesn’t distinguish between “brown sugar” and “honey.” When reading a label, make sure you spot all sources of added sugars even if they’re not listed as the first few ingredients.

Sweet treats can be enjoyed in moderation, but make sure you’re aware of added sugars elsewhere in your diet, such as breads, drinks and cereals.

Industry-sponsored labeling programs can also be confusing. One such program, called Smart Choices, drew scrutiny from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 2009 for calling one popular cereal —which is 41 percent sugar—a “Smart Choice.” (The Smart Choices program has since been suspended.)

4. Eat whole foods

Whole foods haven’t been processed or refined. They are also free of additives and other artificial substances. These foods include whole fruits, legumes, whole grains, vegetables, and meat on the bone.

At the other end of the spectrum are ultra-processed foods. These are prepared foods that contain salt, sugar, fat, and additives in combinations that are engineered to taste amazing — which makes it hard to moderate your intake of these foods

Examples of ultra-processed foods are soft drinks, sugary cereals, chips, and fast food.

Almost 90% of the added sugars in the average American’s diet come from ultra-processed foods, whereas only 8.7% come from foods prepared from scratch at home using whole foods

Try to cook from scratch when possible, so you can avoid added sugars. You don’t have to cook elaborate meals. Simple preparations like marinated meats and roasted vegetables will give you delicious results.

5. Ketchup is sweeter than you think that it is, so use it in moderation

Ketchup often contains a lot of added sugars to preserve the condiment. So, if you’re looking to reduce overall sugar consumption–put that down that ketchup bottle. To add taste to your snacks and such, use sauces, fresh or dried herbs, seasoning mix, yellow mustard, vinegar, or pesto.

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