Sugar has been getting a lot of negative attention in the media over the last few years. That’s because not only is it one of the main causes of our country’s obesity epidemic, but it also can cause preventable diseases such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease and cavities, just to name a few. Cutting sugar out completely can seem impossible but here are some simple things to look for to help avoid consuming added sugars.
Read the Labels
There are products you know sugar is already in such as fruit juice, sweetened cereals and candy. The problem is sugar is hidden in a lot of foods we typically would not expect. Everything from tomato sauce, to ketchup, to granola bars and even some spices contain sugar. Make sure to read the label fully and look for the amount of sugar per serving size. Ideally, you should aim for sugar to be no more than 48 grams per day. There are about 56 grams of sugar in a bottle of Gatorade… just to emphasize the importance of reading the labels first before consuming.
Read our blog post ‘Limited Added Sugars’ for more tips.
Buy Fresh Foods over Canned
It is recommended by the USDA food guidelines to aim for five servings of fruits and vegetables each day and a colorful assortment of them. Although fruit does have sugar in it, these are natural sugars and not artificially added sugars like the ones we find in our processed foods. Canned foods, especially fruits, are swimming in syrupy sugar water in order to preserve their freshness and shelf life. Always choose fresh over canned and just shop for the amount of fresh produce that you’re actually going to eat that week, since it will go bad faster than the canned versions.
Try Healthy Substitutions
There are a number of baking substitutions you can use to reduce your sugar intake. Applesauce is a great natural sweetener to use in place of large amounts of sugar. You can also use extracts to bring sweetness to baked goods such as cinnamon and nutmeg. When you bake at home, you can even cut the sugar called in recipes down and not notice the difference in taste.
Make Your Own Food
The best way to make sure you don’t consume any extra sugars is to cook your own food at home. You get to choose the ingredients, you know exactly how much sugar goes into a recipe, and you can control your portion sizes. This is a great way to take control of your health and really give your family the healthiest foods. If you need some inspiration on lower sugar dishes, check out some of the healthy recipes below.