Do you finish a meal and find yourself almost immediately searching for a something sweet to top it off? Is it hard for you to pass by Dunkin Donuts without stopping in for something glazed? Do you have sugar cravings at random times throughout the day? If you’re nodding in agreement, then it’s time to break free from the grips of sugar.
You may not realize it, but chances are, whatever you’re eating has added sugars. In fact, data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that the average woman eats about 240 calories a day from added sugar which is about 13 percent of her total calories. To put this in perspective, the American Heart Association recommends no more than five percent of total calories from added sugars, or 100 calories per day.
So, where is all this sugar coming from? Highly processed foods and beverages with long ingredient lists are the biggest sources of added sugars in the diet. However, it can sometimes be hard to identify these. Manufacturers are required to list total sugar content, but they don’t have to indicate the breakdown of added sugar versus naturally occurring sugar; and this is important to know. Foods like vegetables, fruit, and dairy products contain natural sugars (not added sugar) and are healthy. They are generally quite low in sugar and contain many other beneficial nutrients. Added sugars, however, are not healthy and should be limited for the sake of your health and weight. According to the AHA, women should limit added sugars to no more than six teaspoons per day.
For many people, breaking free from sugar will be one of the hardest things they’ll ever have to do. But, it’s well worth the effort. The best way to get started is to become a label reader. Finding added sugar on a food label can be a little tricky at first. Just follow these tips and you’ll be an expert in no time.
Tip 1: Check “Sugars” on the Nutrition Facts Label
Check the total amount of sugar listed per serving; and keep in mind that every four grams of sugar is equivalent to one teaspoon. For example, one serving (3/4 cup) of Kellogg’s Honey Smacks contains 15 grams of sugar. Eat 2 servings and that’s 30 grams or 7 ½ teaspoons of sugar.
Tip 2: Check the Ingredient List
If a product contains sugar, take a look at the ingredient list to see if there are any “added” sugars. You’ll need to look carefully since there are more than 60 different added sugars used in processed foods and beverages. Click here to see some of the most common names for added sugars. If none of these are listed, the product likely contains only natural sugars.
However, if you see sugar (or any of its many aliases) listed as one of the first three ingredients, or if sugar is listed more than once, it’s quite likely that there is a significant amount of the “added sugars” in the product.
Tip 3: Just Eat Real Food!
Processed foods and beverages are the biggest sources of added sugars in the diet. As much as possible, eat real whole foods; in other words, food in its most natural state. As Michael Pollan said, “Don’t eat anything your great-grandmother wouldn’t recognize as food.”
Now I’d love to hear from you?
What have you done to cut back on your sugar intake?
Please share in the comment section below. Your thoughts could be very helpful to other readers.
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