Wheat, dairy, soy, red meat — are they healthy or harmful? These days, you can line up an army of nutritionists and doctors who will argue both sides. But there’s one thing that is almost universally believed to have a negative impact on health: your sugar intake.
You probably know that sugar contributes to obesity and type 2 diabetes, but that’s just the start. In recent years, scientists have drawn new conclusions about sugar’s impact on mental health, learning capabilities, mood, and overall quality of life. Sugar has been scientifically linked to depression, addictive behavior, and potential memory loss, among other ailments.
Ready to cut back on sugar? Here are seven strategies.
How to Reduce Your Sugar Intake
1. Choose whole foods over processed foods.
2. Look for sugar-free options.
Completely eliminating processed foods is not always possible, so look for options that don’t have any added sugar. For example, peanut butter that’s made from peanuts and oil, or jam that’s made just with fruit, with no added sugar. It might take a little while to get used to these items, but your taste buds will adjust over time.
3. If you can’t eliminate it, cut it in half.
If going cold turkey on sugar seems too extreme, just cut back: Eat half of that donut or drink half the soda. A small change is better than none.
4. Have healthy substitutes on hand.
If you know you have an energy dip at certain times of the day, make sure you have something to grab that isn’t sugary — such as a bowl of nuts, a piece fruit, or a satisfying protein, like a slice of cheese.
5. Drink more water.
A 2016 survey in the Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics found that people who increased their water consumption by one to three cups each day decreased their sugar consumption by five to 16 grams.
6. Spice it up.
Think about adding flavor, rather than sweetness. For example, try sprinkling cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg or a spice blend (like pumpkin pie) on your coffee, oatmeal, or plain yogurt and fruit.
7. Eat a spoonful of almond butter.
When you feel the need for something sweet, have two teaspoons of almond butter instead. Packed with high-quality protein, fiber, and good fats, it has a natural hint of sweetness and is very satisfying.
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