Five Ways to Reduce Your Sugar Intake
Glucose is a necessary part of life. It sustains every cell in our body and without it we would not be able to survive. However, with diets worsening in the United States and around the world, excess glucose in the form of added sugar has become a primary culprit in many of the worst metabolic health problems. While men and women should consume about 13 teaspoons of sugar per day, the actual number is closer to 42. This means over the course of a year, the average person can gain a significant amount of weight simply from their sugar intake. Furthermore, sugar is often hidden in labeling as sugar alcohols, high fructose corn syrup, glucose, fructose, and more.
So what can we do to reduce our sugar intake?
The first and most important piece of advice is to know what you are consuming. When you look at the nutrition label on a food or drink item, you will see a line for total sugars and a subcategory of added sugars. It is these added sugars that are the worst culprits and should be eliminated. Naturally occurring sugars in fruits, vegetables, and other food stuffs must be moderated but ultimately are not as damaging as the added ones.
Cut dessert in half, then make it a rare treat. Desserts today are bigger and sweeter than ever before. One piece of cake can add 1000 or more calories to your daily intake. Eating these regularly can be truly problematic over the long term. Start by taking your typical dessert and cutting it in half, maybe in a quarter. Not only will you still be able to enjoy the treat, but you’ll have some left over next day and maybe even for a few days. Eventually, make dessert a rare treat rather than a daily staple. Not only will you enjoy it more, but it will help you eliminate some of the worst sugar offenders.
Eliminate sodas and fruit juices. While we all know soda isn’t good for us, fewer people realize the amount of sugar in fruit juice. When the fruit is squeezed, the sugar becomes concentrated in the liquid and all the great fiber that comes with the fruit’s pulp is typically discarded. Moderating and preferably eliminating fruit drinks and sodas are a quick way to reduce sugar calories each day without sacrificing much.
Avoid artificial sweeteners. While it may seem counterintuitive, even 0 cal sweeteners can be detrimental and can increase the risk of type-2 diabetes. Why? It is not so much the sugar, but the sweetness that our body craves. As such, even when we use 0 cal sweetener, we are setting ourselves up to crave more sweetness in the future. Further, we typically use far more 0 cal sweetener than is necessary or recommended, dulling our taste buds and setting ourselves up to eat poorly later on.
Learn the other words for sweeteners. While sugar is obvious on a nutrition label there are many other compounds used to sweeten foods and drinks that are named in a less transparent way. These include sugar, glucose, maltose, dextrose, fructose, lactose, honey, sorghum syrup, high-fructose corn syrup, corn syrup, and more!
Ultimately, it would be a mistake to believe sugar in all its forms is bad. Quite the opposite is true. Glucose is a necessary part of our lives. However, the elimination of added sugar is quite possibly the single most important thing you can do to improve your metabolic health. Of course, if you need any dietary guidance, both before or after bariatric surgery we are here to help and guide you. Don’t hesitate to contact our office to learn more about what you can do to jumpstart your weight loss.