Simple Tweaks To Reduce Sugar Intake
Most people typically don't have a firm grasp of how much sugar we consume on a yearly basis unknowingly. It's been said that the average person consumes more than 40 pounds of sugar in a calendar year -- quite alarming when you think of it in pounds, right?
When we think of sugar, sweet desserts such as cakes, donuts, candy, and cookies come to mind immediately. But there are tremendous amounts of sugar hiding in everyday things we consume, and when we consume them regularly, they add up fast.
Making a few mindful tweaks can make all the difference. Here are a few of my favorite ways to keep added sugar at an absolute minimum in my life:
Choose real fruits. It takes no extra time to grab an apple rather than a pre-packaged fruit cup or applesauce. It's just as easy and doesn't contain any of the added sugar the pre-packaged items have. So, choose something fresh from the produce stand instead.
Focus on fiber and protein power. Fiber-rich foods will fill you up and keep you that way for longer so you’ll be less likely to eat something when you’re not hungry. Protein-packed foods have the same benefit. Combine both of these for delicious ways to stay satisfied throughout the day, and you’ll be less likely to seek out sugar.
Phase out added sugar bombs. If you’ve put sugar in your coffee every morning for the last ten years, start decreasing the amount until you no longer use it. You can also try kicking the habit on the spot if you’re ready for it.
Study labels before you buy. Is your pantry brimming with pre-packaged, processed foods? It's time to learn to live without these. And when you do, commit to reading all the labels of every packaged food item you buy from now on. Added sugar is in some of the most unsuspecting places so read every label before putting anything into your grocery cart.
Drown out cravings with water. If you’re a soda drinker, you can cut out quite a bit of added sugar by ditching your soda habit. Sometimes, we think we’re hungry when we’re actually thirsty -- and other times, a stressed day makes us reach for desserts. Whatever the case, a glass of water can solve the problem. Drink one down and then wait 15 to 20 minutes. The craving will usually be gone but if not, choose a piece of fruit to satisfy the urge.
It takes time to get used to life without added sugar in it, but you’ll soon feel better than ever. Finding the perfect sweet treats that aren't harmful to your health is a powerful way to get past the urges and learn to adapt to your new lifestyle without processed sugar.
Some of my personal favorite sweet treats include sweet veggies such as carrots, sweet potatoes, winter squashes like acorn or butternut squash, and in the summer there’s nothing better than a sweet ear of butter and sugar corn on the cob! These give you a boost of fiber right along with their natural sweetness.
What about chocolate? I love dark chocolate myself so when I’m in a chocolate mood I’ll hunt down a nice organic dark chocolate bar and have a couple of squares. That’s all you need to satisfy your taste for chocolate – believe me! Pair it with a great hot cup of fine tea or coffee and you’re golden. If you’re an ice cream lover don’t despair – give the Halo Top options a try. Since they are very low in sugar you’ll need let them soften a bit to give you the best texture before digging in to them. Lots of yummy flavors to choose from too!
And yes, you’re going to have the kids’ birthdays, anniversaries and other special events where you’ll want to have a piece of cake or go over the top a bit. As long as those times are ‘occasional’ and not the norm then just enjoy them and do NOT feel guilty! Guilt ruins the experience. Enjoy the treats fully and then get right back to your healthy food choices and exercise plan.
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