14 Simple Ways to Stop Eating Excessive Sugar
Eating too much added sugar is one of the worst things since sugar can have many negative effects on your health.
It has been shown to contribute to obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and tooth decay.
When sugar is found naturally in foods such as fruits and vegetables, this type has little effect on blood sugar levels, since fiber and other components slow down its absorption.
Fruits and vegetables also contain a lot of healthy vitamins and minerals.
The danger comes from the added sugars in processed foods.
The average American currently consumes about 17 teaspoons (68 grams) of added sugar per day.
This is more than the maximum daily limit that experts recommend, which is six teaspoons (25 grams) for women and nine teaspoons (37 grams) for men.
This article lists 14 simple ways to stop eating excess sugar.
- Avoid sugar-laden drinks
Some popular drinks contain a large amount of added sugar.
Sodas, energy drinks, sports drinks and fruit drinks contribute an amazing 44% of the added sugar in the American diet.
So-called “healthy” drinks, such as smoothies and fruit juices, may contain substantial amounts of sugar reagent.
For example, 15.2 ounces (450 ml) of 100% apple juice contains more than 12 teaspoons (49 grams) of sugar.
Your body does not recognise the calories in drinks the same way it does with food. Drinks do not make you feel so full, so people who consume many calories from drinks do not eat less to compensate for the excess of calories.
Studies have consistently shown that reducing the consumption of sugary drinks can help with weight loss.
Here are some beverage options that contain less sugar and are healthier:
Water: It is free and has zero calories.
Water with a splash of fresh lemon or lime, homemade soda
Water with mint and cucumber: incredibly refreshing for warm weather.
Herbal or fruit tea: You can drink them hot or cold with ice.
Tea and coffee: Sugar-free tea, black coffee or skim milk are included.
Reducing the consumption of sugary drinks can greatly reduce sugar consumption and help you lose weight.
Summary: Avoiding sugary drinks, such as soda, energy drinks and some fruit drinks, will dramatically reduce your sugar intake and may help you lose weight.
- Avoid sugary desserts
Most desserts do not provide much when it comes to nutritional value, except maybe a little calcium.
They are usually full of sugar, which causes spikes in blood sugar levels and can make you feel tired, hungry and eager to eat more sugar.
Cereal and dairy-based desserts, such as cakes, donuts and ice cream, account for more than 18% of the added sugar intake in the American diet.
If you really feel the need for something sweet, try these alternatives:
Fresh fruit: Naturally sweet contains full of fiber, vitamins and minerals.
Greek yogurt with cinnamon or fruit: Rich in calcium, protein and vitamin B12.
Baked fruit with cream: Try pears, apples or plums.
Dark chocolate: In general, the higher the cocoa content, the lower the sugar content.
A handful of dates: They are naturally sweet and extremely nutritious.
Changing desserts that consist primarily of sugar for fresh or baked fruits can not only reduce sugar consumption but also increase fiber, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants in your diet.
Summary: Desserts such as ice cream, cakes and cookies are prepared with a lot of sugar and are not very nutritious. Switch to fresh or baked fruits to reduce sugar intake and increase consumption of fiber, vitamins and minerals.
- Avoid sauces and dressings with lots of sugar
Sauces such as ketchup, barbecue sauce and sweet chili sauce are common in most kitchens. However, most people are not aware of its high sugar content.
A serving of one tablespoon (15 grams) of tomato sauce may contain one teaspoon (4 grams) of sugar.
Although, some varieties of sauces have no added sugar. Always read the label to make sure you are choosing the option that contains less sugar.
Here are some other options to spice up your dishes:
Fresh or dried herbs and spices: They contain no sugar or calories and may have additional health benefits.
Fresh Chili: Give your meals a burst of sugar-free flavor.
Yellow mustard: Tasty and practically contains no sugar or calories.
Vinegar: Without sugar and calories, with a touch similar to that of tomato sauce. Some vinegars and balsamic creams may contain sugar.
Harissa Pasta: It can be bought or prepared and is a good replacement for sweet chili sauce.
Pesto: Fresh and with nuts, it is ideal in sandwiches or to accompany eggs.
Mayonnaise: Although it does not contain sugar, it is high in fat, so be careful if you are trying to lose weight.
As a healthy alternative to go to the store to buy the sauces, try to prepare them to your liking at home.
Summary: Common table sauces can contain a shocking amount of sugar. Be sure to read the label so you have no doubt that you choose sugar-free options or use herbs and spices to flavor your meals.
- Eat whole foods not skimmed
The low-fat options of your favorite foods – peanut butter, yogurt, salad dressing – are everywhere.
If you have been told that fat is bad, it may feel natural to choose any of these alternatives, instead of full fat versions, when you are trying to lose weight.
However, the disturbing truth is that they usually contain more sugar and sometimes more calories than full versions with more fat.
A 4-ounce (113 grams) portion of low-fat vanilla yogurt contains 4 teaspoons (16 grams) of sugar and 96 calories.
The same amount of plain yogurt full of fat contains only one teaspoon (5 grams) of natural milk sugar and only 69 calories.
Another example is an 8 oz (237 ml) coffee made with whole milk and no added sugar, which contains half a teaspoon (2 grams) of natural milk sugar and 18 calories.
In contrast, the same amount of a low-fat mocha drink contains 6.5 teaspoons (26 grams) of added sugar and 160 calories.
High sugar intake has also been shown to cause weight gain, which denies the reason why you could have chosen a low-fat food in the first place.
When you are trying to reduce your sugar intake, it is often better to choose the whole food presentation instead of the skim presentation.
Summary: Low-fat foods often contain more sugar and calories than total fat versions. It is often better to choose the full fat versions when trying to reduce sugar intake.
- Eat whole foods
Whole foods have not been processed or refined. They are also free of additives and other artificial substances.
On the other end are ultra-processed foods. These are prepared foods that contain salt, sugar and fat, but also substances that are not normally used in home cooking.
These substances can be artificial flavors, colors, emulsifiers or other additives. Examples of ultra-processed foods are soft drinks, desserts, cereals, pizzas and cakes.
Ultra-processed foods differ from standard processed foods, which usually have only a few added ingredients, and you can find them all in a standard kitchen.
Examples of standard processed foods are plain bread and cheese.
90% of the added sugars in the average American diet come from ultraprocessed foods, while only 8.7% come from foods prepared from scratch at home with whole foods.
And it is not just junk food that contains large amounts of sugar.
Apparently healthy options like canned pasta sauce can also contain alarming amounts. One serving (128 grams) can contain almost three teaspoons (11 grams) of sugar.
Try to cook from scratch when possible so you can avoid added sugars. You don’t have to cook elaborate meals. Simple tricks like marinating meat and fish in herbs, spices and olive oil will give you delicious results.
Summary: Whole foods are free of added sugar and other additives that are commonly found in processed foods. Eating more whole foods and cooking from scratch will reduce sugar intake.
- Check if canned foods contain sugar
Canned foods can be a useful and cheap addition to your diet, but they can also contain a large amount of added sugar.
Fruits and vegetables contain natural sugars. However, they are not a problem since they do not affect blood sugar in the same way as added sugar.
Avoid canned foods that are packaged in syrup or have sugar in the ingredient list. The fruit is quite sweet, so be inclined to the versions that are labeled “in the juice itself” or “without added sugar.”
If you buy canned fruits or vegetables that have added sugar, you can remove some of the sugar by rinsing them in water before eating them.
Summary: Canned foods, including canned fruits and vegetables, may contain sugar
- Avoid foods with a lot of sugar for breakfast
The cereals that are marketed for breakfast are among the worst when it comes to added sugar. One report found that some of the most popular contain more than half of their weight in added sugar.
One cereal in the report contained more than 12 teaspoons (50 grams) per serving, which represents 88% of its weight in sugar.
Moreover, the report found that granola, which is generally marketed as “healthy,” has on average more sugar than any other type of cereal.
The most popular breakfast foods, such as pancakes, waffles, muffins and jams, are also loaded with added sugar.
Change to these options for a low sugar breakfast:
Hot oatmeal: Add some chopped fruit if you like sweet.
Greek yogurt: Add some fruits and nuts to add extra but healthy calories.
Eggs: Boiled, poached, scrambled or as an omelet.
Avocado: That is full of nutrients and healthy fats to provide energy.
Choosing a low sugar and high protein and fiber option for breakfast will help you feel full until lunch time, avoiding unnecessary snacks.
Summary: Breakfast cereals are among the worst culprits for added sugar consumption, along with pancakes, waffles and jams. Change to low sugar options, such as eggs, oatmeal or plain yogurt.
- Read the labels
Unfortunately, eating less sugar is not that easy, it is not enough to avoid sweet foods. You have already seen that you can hide in foods that would not make you suspect, including some breakfast cereals, granola bars and nuts.
However, some tasty foods, such as bread, may also contain a large amount of added sugar. Two slices can contain 1.5 teaspoons (6 grams).
Unfortunately, it is not always easy to identify the added sugars on the food label. Current food labels do not differentiate between natural sugars, such as milk or fruits, and added sugars.
To see if a food has added sugars, you will have to check the ingredient list. It is also important to write down the order in which sugar appears on the list, since the ingredients are listed in increasing order according to the content.
Food companies also use more than 50 names for added sugar, which makes it harder to detect. Here are some of the most common:
- High fructose corn syrup
- Sugar or cane juice
- Invert sugar
- Rice syrup
Fortunately, the identification of sugar in packaged foods in the US It has become much easier.
United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has changed its rules for companies to show the amount of sugar added to their products on the label, indicating the ingredients in grams, along with a percentage of the daily value.
Companies have until 2018 to change their labels to comply.
Summary: Always read food labels to check sugar by their many names. The closer to the beginning it is in the list of ingredients, the higher the percentage of sugar in the product.
- Eat more protein and fat
High sugar intake is related to increased appetite and weight gain.
On the contrary, a diet low in added sugar but high in protein and fat has the opposite effect, reducing hunger and food intake.
Added sugar in the diet, particularly fructose, increases appetite. The signals that usually let your brain know that you are full stop functioning properly, which can lead to overeating and gaining weight.
On the other hand, it has been shown that protein helps reduce appetite and hunger. If you feel full, then you are less likely to crave the quick solution that sugar provides to hunger.
It has also been shown that protein directly reduces food cravings. One study showed that increasing dietary protein by 25% reduced cravings by 60%.
Fat is very high in energy. It contains 9 calories per gram, compared to 4 calories per gram of protein or carbohydrates.
A high fat intake is also associated with appetite reduction. Depending on the fat content of a food, fat receptors in the mouth and intestine alter the way it is digested. This causes a reduction in appetite and, subsequently, calorie intake.
To curb sugar cravings, it is advisable to provide the body with protein and high-fat foods, such as meat, fish, eggs, complete and non-skimmed dairy products, avocados and nuts.
Summary: A high sugar intake is related to increased appetite and weight gain. It has been shown that eating more protein and fat have the opposite effect, reducing appetite and cravings.
Learn more about “proteins” in our article: What are proteins for?
- Consider natural sweeteners
The 14 easiest ways to stop eating sugar for some people, sugar can be as addictive as drugs or alcohol. In fact, studies have shown that it can affect the brain in a manner similar to that of some drugs.
Sugar addiction produces cravings and a “tolerance” level, which means that more and more should be consumed more and more to satisfy those cravings.
It is also possible to suffer from sugar withdrawal syndrome.
Studies have found that rats experienced signs of anxiety and depression after having discontinued a diet high in sugar.
This shows that giving up sugar can be very difficult for some people. If this is your case and you are struggling, there are some naturally sweet alternatives that are really good for you.
Stevia: Extracted from the leaves of a plant called Stevia rebaudiana, it has virtually no calories and has been shown to help reduce blood pressure and blood sugar in people with diabetes.
Erythritol: It is found naturally in fruits, it only contains 6% of the calories in sugar, but it is much sweeter, so it only takes a little to sweeten. It also does not cause the sudden rise in blood sugar levels.
Xylitol: A sweetener that is found naturally in many fruits and vegetables, does not contain fructose, so it will not cause spikes in blood sugar levels.
Once you reduce your sugar intake, you will get used to enjoying foods that are less sweet.
Summary: Sugar can be addictive for some people. If leaving sugar is particularly difficult, natural sweeteners such as stevia, erythritol, and xylitol can help.
- Do not keep sugar at home
If you keep foods high in sugar at home, you are more likely to eat them.
It takes a lot of willpower to stop if you just have to go to the pantry or to the fridge to eat a bite of sugar.
Although cravings for snacks and sweet foods can occur at any time of the day or night, they can be worse in the evenings.
Evidence shows that your circadian rhythm, or internal clock, increases hunger and cravings for sweet and starchy foods in the evenings.
It is important to plan how you are going to get distracted when you feel the need to eat something sweet.
Studies have shown that distractions, such as doing puzzles, can be very effective in reducing cravings.
If this does not work, try to keep some healthy snacks and low sugar in the house to chew.
Summary: If you usually have sugar-filled snacks at home, you are more likely to reach them when cravings attack. Consider the use of distraction techniques if you feel cravings and keep some low sugar snack options on hand.
Learn “how to fight cravings” in our article: 4 weapons to fight cravings.
- Don’t go shopping when you’re hungry
If you’ve ever been shopping when you’re hungry, you know what can happen.
Not only you buy more food, but also you tend to put less healthy options in the shopping cart.
It has shown that when you buy hungry not only to increase the amount of food purchased, but it will also affect the type of food you choose to buy.
In a controlled study, 68 participants fasted for five hours. Half of the participants were allowed to eat as many wheat crackers as they wanted just before shopping, while the other half went shopping on an empty stomach.
They found that the hungry group bought more high-calorie products, compared to those who were less hungry.
In another study, 82 grocery shoppers were observed to see if the time of day they were shopping had any effect on their purchases.
The study found that those who bought between 4 and 7 in the afternoon, around dinner time, when they were probably hungry, bought more high-calorie products than those who bought between 1 and 4 pm, shortly after of lunch.
Summary: Research has shown that if grocery shoppers are hungry, they tend to buy more high-calorie foods. Try to eat a healthy meal or snack before shopping.
Find out if you are addicted to food in our article: 8 symptoms of food addiction.
- Get enough sleep
Good sleep habits are incredibly important for your health. Poor sleep has been linked to depression, lack of concentration and a decrease in immune function.
The link between lack of sleep and obesity is well known. But recently, researchers discovered that lack of sleep also affects the types of foods you choose to eat.
One study analyzed this phenomenon in 23 healthy adults. Their brains were scanned using functional magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), first after a full night’s sleep and then after a sleepless night.
The researchers found that the function of the frontal lobe, the part of the brain that controls decision making, was affected after a sleepless night.
In addition, the area of the brain that responds to rewards and controls motivation and desire was stimulated.
These changes meant that participants favored high-calorie, sweet and salty foods when they were deprived of sleep.
Another study found that people who went to bed late and did not receive a full night’s sleep consumed more calories, junk food and soda and fewer fruits and vegetables, compared to those who went to bed earlier and slept through the night.
So, going to bed early and sleeping well can help you reduce your sugar intake.
Summary: Lack of sleep makes people prefer high-calorie, sweet and salty foods over healthy foods such as fruits and vegetables. Make sure you have a good night’s sleep to help you eat less sugar.
Learn to lead a healthy life in our article: 5 habits have a healthier life.
The average American consumes more than twice the maximum recommended amount of added sugar per day.
Excess sugar in the diet can be incredibly harmful and has been linked to many chronic diseases, including cancer, type 2 diabetes, heart disease and obesity.
It is important to avoid obvious sources of sugar in your diet, such as desserts and soft drinks, but also be aware of the hidden sugar in some common processed foods, including sauces, low-fat foods and so-called “healthy” snacks.
Choose a diet based on whole foods instead of highly processed alternatives to totally control your sugar intake and not consume a quantity.