Sugar is sneaky. It is found in a variety of foods, from fruits and vegetables to milk and cereal. Sugar can be used as a sweetener added to foods or drinks, as a natural preservative that binds water to prevent the growth of microorganisms, or as a bulking agent, which gives texture to a variety of food from jams to frozen products.
Whether you're choosing pure sugar or an artificial sweetener, moderation and variety is the way to go. Always choose the least-processed foods and follow these tips to help keep your sugar consumption to a minimum:
- Reconsider your coffee — Instead of the flavored latte, opt for a plain latte and add a sprinkle of cinnamon.
- Choose fresh fruit — Fresh fruit is lower in sugar and higher in fiber than dried fruit and fruit juices so you’ll stay full longer.
- Swap out sugared cereal for high-fiber varieties — Look for cereal with at least 3 grams of fiber and less than 10 grams of sugar per serving.
- Sweeten with fresh fruit — Add your own sweetness to plain yogurt with fresh fruit instead of flavored yogurts.
- Skip sugary drinks — Replace sugar-laden beverages like soda and lemonade with iced tea. A 12-ounce soda contains anywhere from 40-50 grams of sugar whereas unsweetened iced tea contains no sugar.
- Eat fruit for dessert — Have fresh fruit. Limit desserts to once a week or on occasion, and if you like a sweet ending to meals during the week, opt for fresh fruit.
- Cut back on cocktails — Choose light beer or wine, which contain less than 10 grams of sugar, instead of fancy cocktails. Consider mixing your hard alcohols with club soda to avoid the calories in tonic, soda or juice. Drinks like daiquiris and piña coladas pack nearly 60 grams of added sugar.
- Limit condiments — Every tablespoon of ketchup contains a teaspoon of sugar and a tablespoon of barbecue sauce contains over 2 teaspoons of sugar.
- Don't add sugar — Choose foods that are naturally sweet or try adding a sprinkle of cinnamon instead of sugar atop your favorite cereal or yogurt.
- Enjoy it occasionally — You don’t have to cut out sugar completely. Be choosy about which foods you must have and cut out foods you can live without. If dessert is something you really enjoy, cut out things like condiments or sugary cocktails.