10 Ways to Reduce the Sugar in Your Diet

Eating too much sugar is known to contribute to dozens of health problems, including heart disease, obesity, tooth decay, and cancer. We also know that sugar is a major risk factor for insulin resistance and diabetes. Put it all together, and it’s no surprise that sugar consumption is correlated with an increased risk of early death. Yet, the average American eats 17 teaspoons of added sugar per day, according to the American Heart Association, more than double or triple the recommended max.

As people living with diabetes, we must be especially mindful of the amount of sugar we take in. Limiting our added sugar is one of the best and easiest ways to manage our blood sugar and improve our overall health.

Here are some realistic and manageable ways to cut back on your sugar intake. Making these small changes can lead to a healthier version of you!

1. Step Back and Re-evaluate

Everything we do has an impact on our diet decisions. Start by considering healthy changes in other areas of your life. For instance, make sure to get adequate sleep so you’re not relying on coffee laden with sugar to get you through the day. And did you know that a good night of sleep helps reduce sugar cravings the next day?

Also, adding some structure to your day can help you avoid making last-minute food choices that are usually out of convenience and less healthy than those snacks and meals we eat at home. Being prepared means less haphazard choices that may not be the best for your overall health.

2. Don’t Fall for the Low-Fat Trick

Many food companies love to boast their low-fat products but what they don’t tell you is that these foods often contain more sugar and calories than their low-fat alternatives. When fat is removed from a food, it takes away from the natural flavor, therefore they add sugar to sweeten it up. Sometimes the full-fat versions of foods like yogurt are actually more wholesome. Fat doesn’t have to be your enemy when you have diabetes — there are plenty of benefits of adding fat to your diet!

3. Cut Back on Sugar-Filled Drinks

This is the easiest and most immediate change you can make.

Thankfully, there are so many healthy beverage options now on the market. With options like Vitamin Water, Kevita probiotic drinks, a host of flavored sparkling seltzers, and many more, it is a lot easier to avoid those more sugary drinks that can quickly lead to both weight gain and high blood sugars. If you are a fan of coffee and/or tea, it’s best to keep it black or use a natural sweetener such as Lakanto’s Monkfruit Sweetener.

4. Experiment with Rubs Instead of Sauces

Condiments like ketchup and barbecue sauce come loaded with sugar. One tablespoon of ketchup usually contains about 1 teaspoon of sugar! Check for reduced-sugar or sugar-free versions which still pack the flavor. Also, when cooking your own food, try using dry rubs of flavorful herbs and spices instead of sauces. Some other low-sugar options to consider are pesto sauce, mayonnaise, and even avocado. They are absolutely delicious and can spice up any meal, even a slice of bread!

5. Consider Diet-Friendly Sugar Substitutes

While some people can take their coffee black, others may cringe at the thought. Thankfully there are plenty of healthy sugar substitutes that you can use in place of the real deal. This doesn’t only go for your morning coffee but for your cooking and baking needs too. You can easily take a high-sugar dessert and replace it with one of these flavorful and healthier options. There are more alternative sugar choices than ever, and our favorites, like allulose, have clean flavors without upsetting your stomach.

6. Change Your Mindset When It Comes to Snacks

Don’t be quick to grab packaged goods when you need something quick to eat. Processed foods are loaded with sugar, so are not the best choice for a snack to help fuel you.

Consider opting for cheese, nuts, hard-boiled eggs, fresh veggies, or even beef jerky. It takes a little bit more planning to have low-sugar options at the ready, but it’s worth it.

And if you are hosting a get-together or need an idea to bring elsewhere, consider healthy options that are low in sugar such as hummus and vegetables, shrimp skewers, and meat and cheese charcuterie boards.

7. Moderation

Your doctor probably won’t tell you that you can’t have any sugar, ever again. Some sugar in moderation is usually okay, especially if it helps you avoid binging. Listen to your body and do what works for you. Having a healthy mindset when talking about any type of food group will help to avoid any negative feelings or emotions that could come along with eliminating something altogether.

8. Technology Is Your Friend

How much sugar are you really eating in a day? Unless you’re keeping track of it, you probably have no idea. An app like LoseIt tracks your calories and macronutrients. Inputting everything you eat can be an incredibly eye-opening exercise. Use technology as your guide and keep the sugar to the amount that you are comfortable with while still feeling in control.

9. Increase Your Protein Intake

In the diabetes world we talk an awful lot about carbs and fat, but don’t forget about protein. Protein is vital for the body, and getting the right amount of protein has a ton of benefits. It helps us build muscle mass, helps keep our bones strong, and helps keep us satiated. By adding more protein to your diet, at meals or at snacks, it’s easier to avoid those sugar-laden treats, because you’ll feel fuller for longer.

10. Know What to Look for on the Label

Back in 2016, the FDA changed its rules so that companies would have to disclose how much “added sugar” was in their products along with the percentage of the daily value. This is helpful, but there are over 50 other names for added sugars, making it even more difficult to detect. Check out the nutritional label and be sure to pay attention to the order of ingredients as they are listed with the highest percentage first. Some of the common names to look out for: high-fructose corn syrup, cane sugar or juice, maltose, dextrose, molasses, rice syrup, and caramel.

If you are looking to get better control of your blood sugar or are looking to lose or maintain your weight, cutting back on sugar is an easy way to better your health. Taking the steps above will ensure you much success in your diabetes and weight management efforts.

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