10 Ways to Reduce the Sugar in Your Diet

Eating too much sugar is known to contribute to heart disease, obesity, tooth decay, cancer and numerous other health problems. Yet, the average American eats 22 teaspoons of added sugar per day, according to the American Heart Association. Many studies have linked high-sugar intake to an increase in cardiovascular disease (CVD) and mortality due to CVD.  As people living with diabetes, we must be especially mindful of the amount of sugar we take in. Limiting our added sugar can help us manage our blood sugar, avoid weight gain and improve our overall health.

Here are some realistic and manageable ways to cut back on your sugar intake. Making these small changes can lead to a healthier version of you!

1. Step Back and Re-evaluate

Make healthy changes in other areas of your life. For instance, make sure to get adequate sleep so you’re not relying on coffee laden with sugar to get you through the day. Also, adding some structure to your day can help you avoid making last-minute food choices that are usually out of convenience and less healthy than those snacks and meals we eat at home. Being prepared means less haphazard choices that may not be the best for your overall health.

2. Don’t Fall for the Low-Fat Trick

Many food companies love to boast their low-fat products but what they don’t tell you is that these foods often contain more sugar and calories than their low-fat alternatives. When fat is removed from a food, it takes away from the natural flavor, therefore they add sugar to sweeten it up. Opt for full-fat versions, and keep in mind that there are also plenty of benefits of adding fat to our diet!

3. Cut Back on Sugar-Filled Drinks

Thankfully, there are so many healthy beverage options now on the market. With options like Vitamin Water, Kevita probiotic drinks, a host of flavored sparkling seltzers, and many more, it is a lot easier to avoid those more sugary drinks that can quickly lead to both weight gain and high blood sugars. If you are a fan of coffee and/or tea, its best to keep it black or use a natural sweetener such as Lakanto’s Monkfruit Sweetener.

4. Experiment with Rubs Instead of Sauces

Condiments like ketchup and barbecue sauce are commonly used but come loaded with sugar. One tablespoon of ketchup usually contains about 1 teaspoon of sugar. Check for reduced-sugar or sugar-free versions which still pack the flavor. Also, when cooking your own food, try using dry rubs of flavorful herbs and spices instead of sauces. Some other low sugar options to consider are pesto sauce, mayonnaise and even avocado. They are absolutely delicious and can spice up any meal, even a slice of bread!

Pesto sauce is a low-carb option. Photo credit: Adobe Stock

5. Consider Diet-Friendly Sugar Substitutes

While some people can take their coffee black others may cringe at the thought. Thankfully there are plenty of healthy sugar substitutes that you can use in place of the real deal. This doesn’t only go for your morning coffee but for your cooking and baking needs too. You can easily take a high sugar dessert and replace it with one of these flavorful and healthier options. And the best news is we longer have to be tempted by sugar-free treats that contain sorbitol or maltitol and are known for causing stomach upset.

6. Change Your Mindset When It Comes to Snacks

We are all quick to grab packaged goods when we need something quick to eat. Processed foods are loaded with sugar so are not the best choice for a snack to help fuel you. Consider opting for cheese, nuts, hard-boiled eggs, and beef jerky to name a few. And if you are hosting a get-together or need an idea to bring elsewhere, consider healthy options that are low in sugar such as hummus and vegetables, shrimp skewers and meat and cheese charcuterie boards.

7. Moderation

It is important to remember that some sugar in moderation is okay. And some people may be able to better manage eating sugar in moderation than others. Listen to your body and do what works for you. Having a healthy mindset when talking about any type of food group will help to avoid any negative feelings or emotions that could come along with eliminating something altogether.

8. Technology Is Your Friend

Some like to take advantage of apps like Myfitnesspal to track their calories and track macros. It is eye-opening to track a day of eating and see how much you are really consuming. For example, when I did this exercise I learned that I wasn’t taking in nearly enough fiber so I was able to adjust my daily intake. Another great app is by Companion Medical for the use of InPen. Here you will be able to enter the number of carbs and it will tell you exactly how much insulin you need based on your doctor recommended settings. Use technology as your guide and keep the sugar to the amount that you are comfortable with while still feeling in control.

9. Increase Your Protein Intake

The benefits of protein in your diet are endless, and it is vital in helping fuel our body and give us energy. It also helps us build muscle mass, helps keep our bones strong, and helps keep us satiated. By adding more protein to your diet you can avoid those sugar-laden snacks since you will be fuller for longer. Try making all meals protein-dominant, with a small portion of any foods that may spike your sugar or add on pounds if you are weight conscious.

10. Know What to Look for on the Label

Back in 2016, the FDA changed their rules so that companies would have to disclose how much added sugar was in their products along with the % of the daily value. This is helpful but there are over 50 other names for added sugars, making it even more difficult to detect. Check out the nutritional label and be sure to pay attention to the order of ingredients as they are listed with the highest % first. Some of the common names to look out for are: high-fructose corn syrup, cane sugar or juice, maltose, dextrose, molasses, rice syrup and caramel.

If you are looking to get better control of your blood sugar or are looking to lose or maintain your weight, cutting back on sugar is an easy way to better your health. Taking the steps above will ensure you much success in your diabetes and weight management efforts.

Have you tried cutting back on your sugar intake? What measures did you take and what were the results? Comment and share below!

Source: diabetesdaily.com

Six Tips: How to Cut Sugar and Processed Foods from Your Diet

This content originally appeared on diaTribe. Republished with permission.

By Frida Velcani

UCSF’s Dr. Robert Lustig explains how we all can reduce our consumption of sugar and processed foods and why it’s important for promoting health

As people spend more time at home during the COVID-19 pandemic, attitudes and behaviors around food are shifting. While some people may be making healthier and more conscious food choices, others may find themselves responding to stress (prompted by work, health, unemployment, family, or communication challenges) by snacking more often and gravitating toward processed and ultra-processed foods (more on ultra-processed food from the American Heart Association here). Experts are calling what we’re in a “syndemic” – a word coined in the 1990s to mean multiple interrelated epidemics happening at the same time – in this case, COVID-19, under-nutrition, and obesity. The word was popularized most recently in an article in The Lancet. In this article, we focus on the dangers of processed foods and how to cut down on them.

One of the main ingredients in processed foods is sugar – which is shown to cause chronic diseases and inflammation in the body. As background, inflammation occurs when something damages your body’s cells and your immune system releases chemicals that increase blood flow and support to that area. While this response is essential to fighting infections, too much inflammation for a long time (chronic inflammation) can be harmful to our health.

In a compelling recent webinar hosted by the New York Times, University of California San Francisco’s Dr. Robert Lustig discussed the negative health effects of consuming too much processed food and sugar. He cut through the nutritional clutter and described helpful steps that people can take to improve their eating habits and cut unhealthy foods from their diet. While this is easier said than done, there are many benefits to eating less sugar for people with diabetes – you can increase blood glucose stability and improve your time in range.

What makes most processed food unhealthy?

Processed foods often include substances that are not found in typical home-cooked meals – substances such as dyes, artificial flavors, non-sugar sweeteners, and preservatives. Processed foods also lack many of the key nutrients that your body needs, including fiber, omega-3 fatty acids, and various vitamins and minerals. For examples of processed foods and a deeper dive into how they can affect the body, read our article.

As Dr. Lustig emphasized, about 90% of the sugar we consume comes from processed foods, and 75% of packaged items in grocery stores are spiked with sugar.

Sugar can be found in many sweeteners: table sugar, high-fructose corn syrup, maple syrup, and agave. Consuming excessive amounts of any of these sweeteners can increase your risk of weight gain and chronic diseases, such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease. While obesity can significantly increase a person’s risk of developing these diseases, Dr. Lustig said that people who do not have overweight or obesity can still be at risk for chronic conditions, particularly if they are eating more processed foods. As if the heightened risk for complications is not bad enough, sugar consumption has also been shown to speed up aging.

Simple (but not necessarily easy) ways to cut down on sugar and processed foods

A fiber-rich diet (consisting of fruits, vegetables, beans, whole grains, and nuts) can help reduce inflammation in the body by feeding helpful bacteria in your gut and keeping sugar from being absorbed into your liver. You should aim to eat at least 25 grams of fruits and vegetables per day. If you are looking for some ways to incorporate more fiber-rich foods (and fewer processed foods) into your diet, you can:

  • Shop in the fresh produce section of the grocery store and avoid shelved items if you can – we know this is not always easy with a limited budget for groceries.
    Stat

    Image source: diaTribe

    Read the nutrition facts label with an eye for added sugars, and try to avoid them.

    • There is an “added sugar” line on most labels that will show how much sugar has been added to the food during preparation.
    • If sugar (or one of sugar’s more scientific names such as “fructose,” “glucose,” or any word ending in “-ose”) is listed as one of the first three ingredients, try hard to avoid that food.
  • Include a vegetable with every meal. If you choose fruit, aim for low-carb fruits, like berries.
  • If you choose to try to quit eating sugar and cut out certain foods with sugar completely, it may help to start with eliminating it from a single meal, such as breakfast.
    • Eliminate foods high in sugar, such as cereal and pastries.
    • Try a protein-based breakfast instead of a breakfast high in carbohydrates and sugar.
  • If you’re able, purchase fresh bread from the bakery instead of from the bread aisle – and if you can, aim to limit bread as much as possible..
  • Limit yourself to one alcoholic drink (or fewer) during social events and try to avoid any alcoholic drinks with sugar.

If this article inspires you to ditch the processed foods and to start cooking more at home without sugar at all, check out our 19 low-cost, low-carb recipes from Catherine Newman!

Source: diabetesdaily.com

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