Sugar is present in many of the food we consume, although it sometimes comes in a form we do not usually recognize. According to registered dietitian Amari Thomsen, owner of Eat Chic Chicago, a nutrition consulting company based in Chicago, you may be eating sugar without knowing it. Even food that does not taste sweet, such as bread and sauces, contain a significant amount of sugar.
Added sugar is sugar that is mixed into the food during preparation, and excludes the natural sugar found in fruit and dairy products. The American Heart Association suggests an average of six teaspoons of this added sugar per day for women. However, studies on eating habits reveal that twice that amount is actually consumed.
High levels of sugar consumption can contribute to heart disease and diabetes, aside from causing you to gain weight and your teeth to decay. Reducing sugar intake smartly can make you avoid these possible misfortunes.
Here are some easy tips you can follow:
1. Food Labels Are A Clue
The next time you go shopping for your energy consumption needs, take a good, long look at the labels of the food that you usually buy. Those that have “unsweetened” or “no added sugar” in them are the ones you should put in that shopping cart. They are usually found in the organic section.
Pick canned food are not packed in syrup, but in fruit. Nut butters should be made only with nuts and salt, so you may have to check the ingredients for this.
2. Ingredients Are Key
Speaking of ingredients, you can find a more detailed composition of the food items in the ingredients details. According to Diane Sanfilippo, a certified nutrition consultant and author of The 21 Day Sugar Detox, “Even things that you don’t think are sweet, like tomato sauce, crackers, condiments, and salad dressings can be packed with sugar.”
The details for the food product’s ingredients indicate how much of each are present, with the highest quantity on top. If sugar comes first or is near the top, that should provide you with fair warning.
3. The Many Disguises Of Sugar
Food labels may hide sugar under a number of imaginative terms. Beware of the word syrup, molasses, or terms ending in “-ose”, such as fructose corn syrup and sucrose.
Honey may also contain added sugar. Even food advertised as healthy, including cereal and yoghurt, have been known to contain wisely-worded sweeteners that are composed of added sugar.
If you read more than one sugar type on the food label, you may think twice about including that item in your diet.
4. Liquid Sugar Counts, Too
There are a lot of drinks that contain added sugar. Soda is an obvious culprit, but even healthy fluids that come in a bottle are usually sweetened artificially. Some of them may even pack more concentrated amounts of sugar than those in your food.
Take enhanced waters for example, which contain about eight teaspoons of sugar in a regular bottle. Iced teas and energy drinks can contain as much as seven to nine teaspoons per bottle or can. Small-sized restaurant smoothies can hide up to twelve teaspoons of added sugar.
5. Prefer Protein & Fat
Carbohydrates can pack inordinate amounts of sugar which can trigger a rapid increase in your blood sugar levels in just a short period of time. As fast as it peaks, though, it can also decline just as quickly, leaving you craving for food again within a short span of time.
Protein, fat, and fibre can help you bank on these sugar-induced hunger spells, since they help prevent the rapid release of sugar into your bloodstream. Fatty food, in particular, can prolong your feeling of being full, decreasing your need to eat for longer periods.
Some healthy fat includes nuts and seeds, as well as walnut, coconut, and olive oil.
6. Avoid Artificial Sugars
Artificial sugars can disrupt your body’s natural processes and cravings by triggering your sense of taste.Your body reacts to sweet in a very specific manner. “When you eat something sweet, your body expects calories and nutrition, but artificial sugars don’t give your body those things,” Sanfilippo declares.
Moreover, fake sugars have been found to be linked with weight gain, based on a report by the Yale Journal of Biology and Medicine in 2010.
7. Cultivate Other Flavours
As an alternative for added sugar, experiment with other ingredients that can add an unexpected sweetness to your food. Vanilla extract and cocoa powder are some of the common favourites. Spices and citrus flavors, as well as nutmeg and ginger, also add a little character to your meals, without adding a single calorie.
The Journal of Medicinal Food has revealed that cinnamon can naturally regulate sugar levels in the bloodstream, which can do a lot for those sugar-induced binges.
8. Decide To Be Determined
Sugar may be a part of your daily regimen too much that it may seem impossible to give it up, even partially. However, with patience and self-discipline, your body will learn to adjust to the changes.
Once you have gotten used to the lowered sweetness in your food, you will start to be more comfortable with taking sugar-laden meals in moderation. Your palate will begin to appreciate the natural sweetness in fruits, and you will begin to appreciate these kinds of food more.
9. Don’t Shock Yourself
Quitting on sugar abruptly is unrealistic and may backfire. According to Thomsen, you will have more success if you cut slowly and moderately.
For instance, from to teaspoons of sugar, you can start reducing by half in the first week. That can already create a great difference in your sugar levels.
10. Allow Yourself A Sweet Fix
Cutting down on sugar does not mean you have to completely deprive yourself of your favourite sweet treat. Taking it in moderation is the main goal: Make yourself deserve the fix as an occasional reward.
It can be a weekend treat, or a way to celebrate special occasions and achievements, such as successfully cutting down your sugar intake.