Sugar has become a staple of most diets – whether you know it or not. In addition to the sugar in sweet treats such as cake and ice cream, added sugar can now be found in almost everything from peanut butter to bread and spaghetti sauce.
While some sugar is fine in moderation, studies have found that diets high in sugar can lead to a host of health problems. An increased risk of diabetes, obesity, high cholesterol, and even adult acne are just a few of the problems that too much sugar can cause.
Because our bodies release dopamine when we eat sugar, cutting sugar “cold turkey” can lead to serious withdrawal symptoms including headaches, irritability, fatigue, and extreme cravings. To avoid a total sugar crash, follow these four simple ways to cut back on sugar. A few small changes can make a major difference in the amount of sugar you consume while helping to improve your overall health and wellness.
1. Eliminate sugary beverages
This is one of the most obvious – but hardest – ways to eliminate sugar. While soda is the most obvious culprit, tea, lemonade, flavored water, and sports drink can all contain excessive amounts of sugar. If you are a regular soda drinker, start by switching to diet to drastically cut sugar. Likewise, start slowly decreasing the amount of soda you drink; even switching from a full can to half of one can seriously reduces sugar intake.
2. Look for sweet substitutes
If you have a sweet tooth, cutting down on sugar can leave you with serious cravings. Gums and mints containing xylitol and other natural, low-calorie sweeteners can help satisfy cravings – without sacrificing your health and wellness goals. At 4ever Mints, all of our products contain xylitol; in addition to adding sweetness and flavor to our mints, xylitol has been clinically proven to improve oral health by eliminating bad bacteria in the mouth.
3. Cut back on condiments
Ketchup, jelly, barbecue sauce, and other condiments are loaded with added sugars. The American Heart Association recommends just 25 grams of sugar per day; at 4 grams of sugar per tablespoon, a single serving of ketchup contains almost 20% of your suggested daily sugar intake.
4. Make substitutions
There are a number of easy swaps that can be made to reduce sugar in your diet. Unsweetened applesauce or vanilla extract can be used in many recipes to replace white sugar, while switching from flavored creamer to milk in your coffee can significantly reduce your sugar intake. Likewise, check the labels between brands next time you are at the supermarket; taking a few extra minutes to read the labels on things from oatmeal and cereal to tomato sauce and soups can help you choose low-sugar options.