After weeks of chocolates, pudding, mince pies, mulled wine and biscuits you may be thinking about your sugar intake. The trouble with sweet stuff is 1) it tastes great and 2) sugar sneaks into all sorts of things you might not expect. In other words, it takes a bit of effort to cut down on sugar. It is worth it though. Sugar compromises the immune system, leads to energy spikes and crashes, and tempts us to overeat. When we reduce the amount of sugar we eat it makes room in our diet for nutritious food our bodies need.
Here are three ways you can eat less sweet.
Pack your lunch
As much as possible, eat food you’ve prepared yourself — even if it is the “same” as the shop-bought equivalent. A ready-made sandwich will probably have more sugar and salt than a homemade one; a pot of fruit-flavour yogurt has loads more sugar than plain yogurt with fresh fruit; and if you’re feeling munchy it is tempting to eat “nutritious” fruit and nut bars that are actually loaded with sugar. When you make your own food, you know exactly what goes into it, making it easier to eat less sweet.
Don’t drink it
If we’re not careful we can drink more sugar than we eat. Even if you avoid obvious sugar-traps like soda you can still get a lot of sugar from “good for you” alternatives like smoothies, fresh fruit juice, non-dairy milk, alcohol, and so forth. To truly cut out sugar, you pretty much have to just drink water! That is too extreme for most of us, and there drinks like smoothies have other positive health benefits. But it is a good idea to be mindful of what you drink and swap sweetened beverages for unsweetened drinks like Ugly, a fruit-infused sparkling water drink that has zero sugar.
Watch out for “healthy” alternatives
A lot of times we think that sweeteners like honey or agave are “better” than sugar, or that brown sugar is better than white. The truth is, they’re all sugar as far as our body is concerned. Though less processed sugars might be appealing for other reasons, they cause the same insulin response in our body, can lead to the same energy highs and lows, and have the same ability to trigger cravings. Be sure to include these types of sweeteners when you consider your total sugar consumption.
Got tips for cutting out hidden sugar? Share in the comments?