Americans are consuming way more sugar than they should — 22 teaspoons a day. It's clear we need to cut back, but it's hard to break old habits. The American Heart Association (AHA) is urging people to aim for no more than 100 calories of sugar a day (six teaspoons). Here are some easy things you can do to lighten up on the white stuff.
- Cut back slowly. If you give up sugar cold turkey, you'll probably end up going into shock and consuming every kind of dessert you can get your hands on. So make the change to less sugar in your diet gradually.
- Try to ween yourself off of the sugar you add to foods. Stir less sugar into your cup of joe and sprinkle less sugar on your cereal or oatmeal.
- Choose your sugar vice for the day. If you can't live without sugar in your coffee, M&Ms after lunch, or an after dinner bowl of ice cream, then don't, but be sure to limit your sugar intake for the rest of your day. Keep in mind that one soft drink, a small candy bar, a few plain cookies, or a small portion of light ice cream or frozen yogurt is equal to 100 to 150 calories of added sugar.
- Don't be fooled by natural sugars. Brown sugar, molasses, Sucanat, and turbinado sugar are still sugar.
- Avoid liquid sugars. A 12-ounce can of coke contains 40 grams of sugar, and a 20-ounce bottle of Vitamin Water contains 32 grams. You'd be better off drinking plain water with lemon or lime, sparkling water, 100 percent fruit juice, milk, or tea instead.
- Buy plain yogurt instead of flavored yogurt. Either sweeten it with fresh or frozen fruit, or mix half plain yogurt with half fruit yogurt.
- Don't be fooled by healthier versions of treats. An oatmeal raisin cookie and strawberry ice cream are still made with sugar. So are many energy bars.
- Get fruity.To satisfy your sweet tooth, choose naturally sweet foods like fruit, dried fruit such as dates or apricots, fruit smoothies, carrots, sweet potatoes, and homemade popsicles.
- Check labels on fruit products. Fruit is naturally sweet enough, but some companies choose to make it sweeter by adding sugar. Choose jams and juices that are sweetened with nothing but fruit.
- Check labels on other foods and look for hidden sugars. If a label says sucrose, corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup, cane juice crystals, evaporated cane juice, dextrose, molasses, or malted barley extract, it contains sugar.
Source: Flickr User Mykl Roventine