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10 Ways to Cut Back on Sugar

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Don't be fooled by natural sugars. Brown sugar, molasses, Sucanat, and turbinado sugar are still sugar.
  5. 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.
  6. Buy plain yogurt instead of flavored yogurt. Either sweeten it with fresh or frozen fruit, or mix half plain yogurt with half fruit yogurt.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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

Join The Conversation
Autumns_Elegy Autumns_Elegy 7 years
I don't touch vitamin water, nutrient water, or any of those drinks that claim to be healthy and full of vitamins. Reading the nutritional info scares me. Nearly as much sugar as a can of full fat coke! I watch my sugar intake carefully, giving up ice cream was the hardest.
DavidDietitian DavidDietitian 7 years
As a registered dietitian and consultant to the food and beverage industry, I make some of these very points with many of my clients. A healthy diet isn’t about picking or rejecting a specific food or beverage. Rather, it’s about making informed, sensible choices based on individual needs. It’s about moderating and balancing foods we enjoy. So, talk with a registered dietitian to plan sensible and healthy ways to improve your sugar consumption.
AustinSol AustinSol 7 years
I'm looking at the AHA website and they are suggesting up to 5 teaspoons for women age 51-55... but what about us younger gals??
Beaner Beaner 7 years
I get my insane sweet tooth from my mom, and I realized I was having a hard time saying no to anything sweet, and I ended up gaining 25 pounds because I loved it so. So for me, I had to go cold turkey. And I found I stopped craving it after a while and loved losing weight and feeling more energetic. Now when I have something sweet, I make sure it's really something I want, like cheesecake, or a chocolate truffle, and because it's so rich, I don't feel the need to stuff my face.
sunsophia sunsophia 7 years
Sugar is the devil. I still like it though.
GlowingMoon GlowingMoon 7 years
I'm mindful of the sugar in my diet, too.
insanitypepper insanitypepper 7 years
Fruit aside, I try not to eat any one item that has more than five grams of sugar per serving. I definitely agree with cutting back slowly. When I cut back on sugars & starches I was majorly cranky for weeks.
Spectra Spectra 7 years
I don't totally avoid sugar, but I do know where all of my sugar comes from in a day so that I don't eat too much of it. I don't really think I'm addicted to it, but I do like a piece of candy or a cookie now and then. I'm athletic, so my body probably is better at processing the sugar I eat than if I were sedentary, but I still try to watch where my sugar calories come from.
Yogaforlife Yogaforlife 7 years
It is crazy how much sugar we consume. It's no wonder that Type II diabetes is on the rise with how much sugar people are consuming. I have been watching my sugar since early 20's because Type II diabetes runs in both sides of my family. My paternal grandfather lost his leg because of it. My maternal grandmother didn't follow the doctor's orders when she was younger, went blind, was put on insulin shots (she had a special contraption under her skin to help her give herself shots) and during the last painful years of her life, her kidney's shut down and she had to live on a dialysis machine. Diabetes is no joke!
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