Sugar is in a surprising number of products, from cookies to pasta sauce to sliced bread. However, increasing evidence is proving that a diet high in sugar is detrimental to your health.
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In fact, according to the Harvard School of Public Health too much of the sweet stuff can lead to obesity, heart disease and insulin resistance. Sugar contains calories, so too much of it can cause you to gain weight. Some research also shows that sugar can increase blood pressure, upping the risk of heart problems. In addition, when your body builds up insulin resistance, you can wind up developing diabetes. Finally, too much sugar increases the signs of aging. Fortunately, cutting back doesn’t have to be difficult. Make some small changes one at a time and you’ll be well on your way to a healthy lifestyle.
Stop Buying Premade Foods
Some of the worst offenders when it comes to sugar content are processed condiments and snacks. Instead of buying pasta sauce, salad dressing and gravy in jars, bottles or cans, consider preparing it yourself. This gives you all the power when it comes to what ingredients you use. It only takes a few minutes to make a batch that you can chill or freeze for several uses. For example, make a large pot of pasta sauce on the weekend and portion it into individual bags or containers that you can pull out for a quick and healthy meal during the week. This strategy also works for things like trail mix and other such snacks.
Make The Switch From Soda To Water
There is clear proof that drinking too much soda is harmful to your health. One of the reasons to avoid it is it’s sugar content. One can of soda has more than sugar than the average person needs in an entire day. If you’re a big soda drinker, try cutting out one per day, then two, then three and so on over the course of a few weeks. Choose unsweetened iced tea or water instead and your gradual approach should help you give up soda once and for all. Sports drinks, energy drinks and juice cocktails are other sugar drinks to avoid.
Sugar By Any Other Name
Cutting down on sugar is an undertaking and food manufacturers aren’t going to make it easy for you. Sugar isn’t always listed as such on food labels. It also goes by many other names. Unless you know what they are, you can’t truly control your sugar intake. You’re looking for anything that ends in -ose, as well as cane juice, beet juice, honey, molasses and any type of syrup. By avoiding these ingredients, in addition to sugar, you can easily get a handle of how much you take in each day.
Look For Unsweetened Versions Of Your Favorite Products
Many of your favorite foods come in unsweetened versions. By choosing these, you still get to enjoy your favorites without going overboard on the sugar. Some examples include applesauce and yogurt. You can slash many grams of sugar from your diet by making the simple switch to “no sugar added” versions of your favorite foods. Many condiments, including ketchup and mustard, are also available in lower sugar options.
The trick to cutting back on sugar intake is to make small changes over time instead of quitting cold turkey. The latter will just leave you craving sugar, dramatically reducing your chances of success. Another important thing is to remember that natural sugars, such as those in fruit, aren’t as worrisome as the added sugars that most research is talking about when they make suggestions about cutting back.
Fruit, for example, is a healthy way to satisfy a sweet craving, while also giving you other health benefits at the same time. If you need assistance figuring out how much sugar is appropriate for you or you need help cutting back, talk to your doctor about additional resources.