We all know we’re not “supposed” to eat sugar. We learned about it as kids as that bad little triangle at the top of the food chain with the word “sparingly” next to it.
While a lot of the suggestions in the food pyramid have been debunked in recent years, the part that told us to eat sugar sparingly remains accurate. Sugar causes unnatural spikes in blood sugar that leave you exhausted, and it satiates hunger inefficiently which can lead to lower metabolism and weight gain.
Yet the junk food industry remains a multi-billion dollar industry -- a testament to the fact that even though we all know we shouldn’t be eating so much sugar … we all still really like those sugary little treats.
So instead of another blog post talking about how you need to nix the sugar full stop, let’s take a more realistic approach. Let’s go through a few realistic ways to reduce sugar intake – ways that you could easily integrate in your day-to-day life without a lot of time, money, or that nagging feeling of deprivation.
Get your morning caffeine fix without the added sugar.
Coffee’s bitter flavor may be appealing to some, but many find it needs a little something extra to take the edge off – and that thing is sugar. Tea, on the other hand, is far less bitter and presents an opportunity to get your morning pick-me-up without the added sugar your taste buds might require with coffee. Zest Tea is one delicious brand of high-caffeine tea that’ll give you a ton of energy without the sugar that you’re trying to kick.
Find snacking satisfaction from natural sources of sugar.
Not all sugar is created equal. Sugar exists naturally in fruits and vegetables, and when eaten in recommended amounts, they can serve as excellent snacks that help you get your sugar fix in a health-conscious way. Some particularly sweet and delicious options that taste great raw include cherry tomatoes, bell peppers (get a variety of colors – remember, you eat with your eyes), and assorted berries.
If you have a dehydrator at home, another great way to add some variety to your snacking regimen is drying out your favorite produce. Pineapple, mango, papaya, and bananas all make excellent treats as they are, and drying them out only enhances their natural flavors and brings out new and interesting textures that keeps snacking interesting.
Dehydrating your produce at home is a far better option than buying it in-stores, too, as most brands add sugar to their final product.
Get in the habit of reading food labels.
Speaking of dried fruit, if you’re looking to cut down on added sugar, build the habit of reading labels when you’re going grocery shopping. You’d be surprised how much sugar is added to products – especially ones that you think are healthy. Some common culprits are things like dried fruits, some yogurts, instant oatmeal, granola bars, cereals, and our final item on this list …
Nix sugary beverages, and swap them out for healthier alternatives.
There’s often a ton of added sugar hiding out in beverages you buy at the store – but then again, not everyone is satisfied with drinking just water all day. There’s a middle ground, though. If you like sipping on sodas because of the carbonation, opt for seltzer water instead. If you think that’s too bland, add flavor to it by squeezing a lemon or lime into it, or plopping in some squished berries or pomegranate seeds.
There are also water bottles on the market now that provide an inner tube that can be filled with fruit, which then gets infused into the water that surrounds it. You can create fancy looking (and tasting) blends by including things like cucumber, lime, mint, or basil.
With water that fancy, who needs that added sugar, anyway?