How To Reduce Sugar Intake - 5 Tips
One of the two best actions you can take to improve your health is learning how to reduce sugar intake. While many of us know we should reduce sugar in the form of sweets and treats, it's what we're consuming outside of our indulgences that's having a negative effect on our health.
I’m sure you’ve heard of it, the cause of all evil, the devil reincarnated… sugar! Haha okay a bit extreme 😛
But sugar has a ton of horrific side effects and is definitely not beneficial to our overall health. And when it comes to kids… well let’s just save that rant for later. Like juice boxes, I am a firm believer that kids don’t need sugar and neither do we mamas!
The Sugar Addiction
Let me be honest in saying: sugar is in everything. Literally everything.
And unfortunately, because we've become so accustomed to it in our "foods" we've become extremely addicted to it.
Some of the ways that show we're addicted to sugar are:
- Many of us have altered our taste buds so we nor longer feel normal, unprocessed foods "taste good"
- We need that three pm pick me up. And instead of reaching for something that we know will fuel us, we opt for a sugar rush instead
- We often lose control around sugary treats
- Our society revolves around sugar. Going to a Holiday party or Valentines is extremely difficult if you're learning how to reduce sugar intake because you're bombarded
And the one that hurts me the most personally, is that we've become accustomed to feeding out kids sugar All. The. Time.
I’m going to save you the lecture on why sugar is bad for us. Truthfully if you don’t know that you shouldn’t be consuming sugar you probably don’t want tips on how to reduce sugar intake 😛 (check out the quickie video explanation below!)
But know this:
Yes, sugar is bad for our waistlines and overall our body composition. But it is so much more than that.
Sugar is horrible for your overall health. It promotes heart disease, cancer cell growth, hormone alterations, diabetes, tooth decay...
Everything. Sugar affects every single system in our bodies.
Health Risks Of Sugar & Children
When it comes to children, sugar has been linked to behavior disorders.
It also alters kids taste buds and thus how they eat. Once kids become accustomed to sweeter food, they transition from eating real food (like vegetables and whole grains) without sugar or sweetener is added.
And kids are bombarded by it. It's one of the reasons that I aim for Sugar-free Easter Baskets and Homemade Advent Calendars.
Sugar is a super big rant for me. I can be negotiated with on a lot of things… but sugar isn’t one of them when it comes to my girls.
How To Reduce Sugar Intake
So, how in the hell do you cut sugar?
The same way you achieve any other goal: dedication and consistency.
The reason so many people struggle to reduce sugar intake is that they don’t want to! Blunt yes, but it’s true ( #sorrynotsorry ).
Have you ever gone cold turkey from sugar? It’s hard as hell! You get mood swings, headaches, you’re frustrated. It’s a serious business.
So, the best thing you can do when learning how to reduce sugar intake is to take it one day at a time and one healthy swap at a time. Work slowly to change your habits and you’ll notice small differences.
Your skin, hair, and energy will thank you. You’ll start to enjoy real food again. It won’t be easy, but it can be done.
But again, it’s overwhelming. So below are five simple tips I give to new clients when they’re learning how to reduce sugar intake.
Reduce Sugar Intake In Liquid Form
This one is a super-challenging one for most people as they have no idea what to reach for!
This means you need to say no to:
- juice (no, not even ocean spray cranberry :P),
- crazy Starbucks concoction
- orange juice
- low calorie packaged thing at the grocery store
- store-bought smoothies made with “fruit puree”.
This is where most of my clients freak out and wonder what the hell to drink.
The obvious answer is water (read tips on boosting water intake) given most people fail miserably to get in enough water each day.
But tea (iced or chilled), infused water and coconut water are all great options. And of course, healthy mocktails for special occasions help!
Remove sugar in your drinks is hard and will have you confused to what to reach for a while. But it makes a huge freaking impact.
Dressings & Sauces
This is another hard one for some! But the truth is, we drown a lot of our food in the sauce: ketchup, sweet and sour, salad dressings. All of these sauces add up when really, it’s a pretty simple place to reduce sugar intake from.
Make your own sauce. I promise it’s really not hard. Most stir fry sauces and salad dressings require under five ingredients or less!
This isn’t to say you can never have ketchup again. Far from it. But swapping the majority for homemade will have a big impact on your health. Use packaged sauces (especially salad dressings and VH sauces!) sparingly.
I am a firm believer in making your own snacks whenever you can (like deliciously tasty energy balls!). not only does this save you money but it saves your health too.
Does it take time? Uh yeah, it does. But it’s worth it.
Store-bought bars (most of them, some store-bought snacks like these ones are a better choice) are nothing more than candy bars. Muffins are even worse, they truthfully make me cringe with the amount of sugar and fat in them (and no, it’s not good fats).
Granola is another one: make your own or find a reputable brand. When looking at the back of a package, you want to avoid SUGAR as one of the first ingredients. And this includes:
- cane sugar
- coconut palm sugar
- corn syrup
- barley malt
There are a ton of other names for sugar.
So, give your wallet and your body some love by making your own snacks. Plan it, execute it and keep it simple.
Half of my snacks are no-bake options because I’m too lazy to cook! It’s easy and so very much worth it.
This one is a sticky one (pun intended!). But to be perfectly clear, items like honey, maple syrup, and coconut sugar are still sugar and breakdown as sugar.
That said, I totally use these. I am most definitely not 100% sugar-free. But I at least take comfort in knowing that I can control the amount of these ingredients in my recipe. It makes for a good transition.
Buy Unsweetened Options
This is especially true for items like almond milk and yogurt! There is no need (none!) to add sugar into milk. Seriously, it drives me bananas.
If you find you’re in desperate need of it, add in some cinnamon, vanilla or at the very last resort pure maple syrup (like a tablespoon!) in to change the flavor.
As for yogurt, sweeten it yourself! Some great yogurt sweeteners are:
All great and very sweet options to put into yogurt that contains far less processed sugar that pre-mixed fruit yogurt.
Start buying the unsweetened versions of the item (applesauce, milk, yogurt, etc). It’s a super simple swap that can make a significant difference.
How To Reduce Sugar Intake- Swap Traditional Desserts For Healthy Variations
Yes, this one sucks. This is why I left it until last 😛
And before you cringe and curse me, no, this does not mean you can never have regular treats again. Seriously, eat them.
But if you’re eating chocolate bars, cupcakes and cookies weekly, you may want to think about making some swaps.
Healthy desserts can be simple to make and again, much healthier. Using real food instead of processed crap naturally cuts out a lot of sugar.
Again, yes it sucks. It will taste different at first but can be done and you don’t have to omit your favorites all the time.
A few of my favorites are:
Truly, learning how to reduce sugar intake from your diet doesn’t have to be horrendous. It doesn’t mean you need to eat only chicken and broccoli.
It does mean that you need to be more aware of the food you’re buying and switch up a few habits.
Don’t forget to pin these tips on how to reduce sugar intake!
It’s not easy to change your habits and it’s even harder to alter your taste buds. But still doable. When it comes to your risk of heart disease, cancer, tooth decay, diabetes etc sugar is a pretty key factor and one you have complete control over. Make some swaps and reduce your sugar intake. Your body will thank you,