Added sugars are empty calories. Your body doesn’t need them, and they can make you gain weight quickly. But it’s not hard to cut back on sugar and maybe not even miss it.
It may be a smart move to reach for cookies, candy, and other sweets less often. But sugar lurks in processed foods, including savory ones like sauces and dressing. Food manufacturers use sugar to extend their products’ shelf life. Aim to eat more fresh foods and fewer of those that are sold in packaging.
Names for added sugar include evaporated cane juice, Fruit juice concentrate, brown rice syrup, malt syrup, corn syrup, date syrup, barley malt and glucose.
Here are some healthy ways to cut out sugar from your food:
Smart swaps for coffee and tea
Lemon, licorice, and anise are good flavorings for your tea. For coffee, try cinnamon, vanilla extract, or unsweetened cocoa powder. Scan the nutrition information for your favorite coffee-shop beverage to learn which ones are loaded with the sweet stuff.
Rethink soft drinks
A regular can of soda has 8 teaspoons of sugar. So swap your sodas. Sip on ones with less sugar, artificial sweeteners, or nothing at all. Ease your taste buds off sugar over time. Someday, your go-to drink might be sparkling water.
The sugar found in fruits is a great way to sweeten meals. Sprinkle raisins and chopped dates into salads and grain dishes. Add fruits to grilled or roasted meats, and fish. Mind the fruit portions, since natural sugar is still sugar.
Switch to whole-grain hot cereals like regular cooked oatmeal. They usually have very little or no sugar. Mix in some mashed bananas or apples and cinnamon to kick the flavor up a notch.
Pick dark chocolate
If you love chocolates, there’s no need to deny yourself. Just choose dark chocolate. It usually has less sugar and fat than milk or white chocolate. Studies have shown that dark chocolate can keep your heart healthy, too. The higher the cocoa content, the better! So look for dark chocolate that has 70% cocoa or higher.
Sugar lurks in many bottles. Barbeque sauce, ketchup, and salad dressings are often loaded with surprising amounts of sugar. Fresh or dried herbs can add flavor to meats. Try no-sugar-added pasta or marinara sauce, with a dash of your own spices.