For many years people all around the world smoked cigarettes in blissful ignorance of the horrible health consequences smoking had. But when it became clear that smoking could, in fact, kill you, huge campaigns were launched to help educate people about the serious dangers of cigarettes and even to force tobacco brands to advertise the dangers of their products.
Unfortunately, the same hasn’t been true for sugar. Despite how painfully clear it is that sugar is detrimental to our health, not much has been done to force food manufacturers to lower sugar in their recipes or to warn consumers of the dangers of consuming their products.
But that doesn’t mean that we, as individuals, are powerless against the pervasive nature of the sweet stuff. With a little knowledge and a few smart tips, you can dramatically decrease the amount of sugar in your diet.
1. Take Time to Read
Many of us are so rushed that we merely grab products off the shelf that look good and use healthy buzzwords, but it’s critical that you actually read the labels, even for products that you wouldn’t think have sugar. Always read carefully and opt for products that do not contain added sugar.
2. Know Your Sugar Names
Many products contain added sugar that goes by other names, so be sure that you’re not just scanning for the word, “sugar,” but also things like high fructose corn syrup, molasses, invert sugar dried cane syrup, sucrose (any words that end in “-ose”), honey, maple syrup, and brown rice syrup as well.
3. Go Gradually
It can be tough to cut sugar out cold turkey, so try decreasing sweetened elements of your diet gradually. For example, cut down the amount of sugar you add to your coffee a little bit every week until you get used to a taste that’s not as sweet.
4. Avoid Carb-Only Meals
It’s unrealistic to cut out carbohydrates from your diet entirely, but you will lessen the effects of sugar if you pair carbs with fats and proteins. So instead of a whole bagel for breakfast, try half a bagel with eggs and avocado slices. And add a slice of turkey or cheese to the piece of fruit you have for a snack.
5. Keep it Real
Your instinct might be to go for artificial sweeteners to take the place of sugar, but you must resist that urge! Diet Coke, for example, does damage to your teeth and overall health as well. Natural sugars are always best, so try replacing Coke with seltzer water that has a splash of 100% fruit juice for a bit of flavoring.
6. Don’t Give Up!
It may be a tough adjustment at first, but just like anything you’re trying to give up, it’ll get easier with time. You’ll soon notice that your taste buds have adjusted and you no longer need something to be packed full of sugar to think it tastes sweet.
7. Treat Yourself
Significantly cutting down on your daily intake of sugar does not mean permanently swearing off dessert or sweet treats. In fact, this change will make it OK for you to have the occasional sweet since you won’t be consuming excess sugar with every meal.
Given the fact that we’re now well aware of how bad it is for both your oral and general health, it’s high time that we all make strides to greatly decrease the amount of sugar in our diets. Start with these easy tips and you’ll soon find that the transition isn’t as difficult as you imagined.