Did you know that the average American eats 82 grams of added sugar a day? According to the Centers for Disease Control that equals out to 19.5 teaspoons of sugar. A healthier limit is usually six to nine teaspoons.
I have to be honest with myself and say that I have eaten way too many sweets in the last couple of months. Cookies, cake, pie, Cracker Jacks®, and mini candy bars tasted good, but now my stomach is revolting and Pepto-Bismol is my new best friend.
My clothes feel tighter, and I am not in the financial position to buy a whole new wardrobe. Of course, I can blame a lot of it on the holidays, but I am determined to eat healthier without depriving myself.
Here are four tips to reduce sugar in your daily diet:
Start a Food Diary
Before you start reducing your sugar intake, it’s a good idea to write down everything that you eat for three days. Be honest. If you ate three scoops of ice cream with hot fudge and all the trimmings, or apple pie with whipped cream and ice cream, write it down. This will help pinpoint your biggest sources of sugar, and help you think of some healthier substitutes.
Learn to Read Food Labels
It’s amazing how many ordinary foods have added sugar. Salad dressings that you thought were so healthy, soup, tomato sauce, and condiments like catsup, have added sugar for better flavor. Food labels list ingredients in order, and the nearer an ingredient is to the top of the list the more sugar it contains.
Beware of Low-Fat Foods
It’s been my experience that foods that are low-fat are not as tasty as their full-fat counterparts. How do manufacturers make it taste better? That’s right, add more sugar. It’s better to buy full-fat foods and eat less.
Cut Down Gradually
You don’t need to go cold turkey. For example, if you like two packets of sugar in your coffee, cut down to one. The next week have half a packet, until you feel comfortable drinking your coffee black.
The holidays are a particularly tough time to reduce sugar, so have a smaller portion of your favorite dessert. Pumpkin pie can be lightened up by rolling pie crust thinner, using light butter, and substituting egg whites for egg yolks.