Sugar might be the sneakiest thing in your diet. It is hard to keep track of, large quantities appear in foods your wouldn’t expect, and on top of it all sugar is addicting. Nonetheless, it is perhaps culprit number one behind weight gain since sugar easily turns into fat and is definitely the cause of the explosion in diabetes. This dramatically affects your lifestyle, so how can your reduce your sugar intake?
How Much Sugar is Too Much
So, sugar is a problem, but what should you do about it? Well first off realize sugar isn’t bad per se, but it is in excess. Well what is excess? The American Heart Association recommends less than 40 grams of added sugar a day for woman and 50 grams of added sugar a day for men. And note this is added sugar, natural sugars from fruits and vegetables don’t count. However, some health associations try to stick 40 to 50 grams of total sugar per day including those from natural sources.
Breakfast and Lunch Are Safe Right?
So we have a target 40 to 50 grams of sugar a day; that is two meals of 20 grams and 1 meal of 10. Although, this seems trivial to meet it is actually quite easy to blow past those numbers. For instance, a breakfast that consists of a bowl of honey nut cheerios and milk, a slice of white bread, and orange juice has 32 grams of sugar! 9 grams in the cheerios, 12 grams in the milk, 2 grams in the bread, and 9 grams in the orange juice.
What about a small breakfast of just a Greek yogurt (Chobani) and a granola bar (Nature’s Valley)? 15 grams for the yogurt and 11 grams for the granola bar for a whopping 27 grams total, not quite as much as the cereal and orange juice, but very close.
What about lunch, that has to better right? A cheeseburger, some fries, and a coke can’t be that bad can they? Well a cheeseburger has about 10 grams of sugar most it in the bun, but ketchup and other sauces add more. Fries don’t have much if any sugar, but 12 ounces of coke has a whopping 39 grams making the typical fast food meal have 49 grams of sugar!
How To Avoid Sugar
These examples illustrate that sugar hides in foods you wouldn’t think, drinks can and do have enormous amounts of sugar, and grains can have a lot of sugar in them. So what can you do about it? If nothing else simply avoiding the foods below will reduce sugar intake substantially:
- Sodas and Fruit Drinks
- Processed Grain Based Meals
- Granola Bars
- Low Fat Foods
- Sweet Condiments and Sauces
- Pretty much any secret sauce
- Processed Baked Goods
- Click Here for Other Foods
Cook Your Own Meals
The easiest way to control your sugar intake is to cook your own meals. Rice, pasta, and certain breads have very low sugars usually less than 2 grams per serving and these can serve as the base for just about any meal. You have to watch out for sauces especially tomato sauces, but most other sauces have minimal sugar. Nonetheless, this brings me to another important point always read the label; you can ignore everything but sugar (at least for now) and can quickly tell if your sauce is normal or a dessert.
I Really Like Soda and/or Fruit Drinks Though
Well luckily for you most of them come in no-sugar (Diet brands) or reduced sugar varieties. And although artificial sugars have received some negative press, the science says they are perfectly fine for you and might even help weight loss. But, if you are really worried about apparently Stevia is an all natural herbal sweetener with no calories.
But I Really Like Eating Out
You really like eating out, well that’s fine the same rules apply. If the nutritional facts are available look them up, if not get a meal with a rice, pasta, or wheat bread base with limited sauces and condiments and don’t drink any soda.
Snacks Are My Jam Though
Me too. Thankfully, while a lot of snacks have tons of sugar, alot of them have little to none. Most potato chips have limited sugar, tortilla chips have none, dips such as ranch typically don’t have any, popcorn has none, and one of my new old favorite snacks goldfish don’t have any either.
Most grain based snacks like crackers, granola bars, and even pretzels do have sugar and usually quite a bit of it. As always check the label you might be surprised that very tasty snacks can get by with almost no sugar.
Uh, Does this Mean I Can’t Drink (Alcohol)?
Oh heavens no. Luckily most beer, red wines, and spirits (vodka, rum, whiskey, etc.) have little to no sugar in them naturally. Your mixers on the other hand do. So the same rules that apply to soda and fruit drinks apply here; use diet or reduced sugar versions.
However, watch out for ciders, sweet mixers like Amaretto and orange liqueur, and white wines; they typically have large amounts of sugar in them. Unfortunately, most margaritas fall under the category of super sweet mixer with large amounts of sugar. Actually, most famous cocktails like long island iced teas, piña coladas, and cosmos and fall under the high sugar mixer category. Try to limit you consumption of cocktails to one a night and then switch to spirits mixed either with seltzer or diet sodas.
Wow, This is Crazy. Can I Eliminate All Sugar?
You can do anything you set your mind to. In fact, trying to eliminate all sugar is a good way to get a feel for what has sugar and what you can live without and what you don’t want to.
Also, you aren’t alone alot of people realizing the harm sugar does on their bodies have started to eliminate sugar. See here, here, and here. Also since sugar is a carbohydrate, those people on keto diets or no-carb diets are also eliminating sugar so feel free to check those diets out as well.
Personally, I like sugar and I started my sugar awareness by eliminating all of it from my life. While, that diet opened my eyes to where sugar was, I still eat sugar today. Nonetheless, I encourage you to try it and if it works for you, great.
Look, I Need Some Sugar Though. Help Me?
All this isn’t meant to get you down, but to just be aware. I don’t want you not to eat dessert, but rather to consciously choose when you eat it. If you limit your sugar intake during your main meals and during your snacks, reward yourself with a dessert.
Staying under 40 to 50 grams becomes much easier as you get used to looking for sugar even with a 20-25 gram dessert. I live in Texas so Ice Cream, specifically Blue Bell, is a must and Cookie Two-Step only has 16 grams. So have at it, just make sure you are eating dessert on your terms.
- Make Sure You Are Eating Dessert On Your Terms
- Avoid sugary sodas and fruit drinks
- If you can’t switch to diet and no sugar alternatives
- Check the sugar by reading the nutritional labels
- Cook at home and enjoy any rice or pasta based meals
- Make sure your sauces and dressings won’t wreck your sugar budget
- Watch the sauces and grains when you eat out
- Enjoy most snacks, but watch out for the sugary ones
- Reward yourself with a dessert every now and then just try to keep around 20 grams of sugar