Lifestyle factors like obesity have been linked to high sugar consumption. Obesity, on the other hand, is associated with higher risks of certain diseases including cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, cancer, osteoarthritis, sleep apnea, and depression.
For these reasons, some people are starting to cut back on sugar while others are entirely eliminating sugar from their diet. This means avoiding foods containing sugar and getting an adequate amount of sugar from fruits and other natural foods.
The body needs sugar to boost mood instantly, provide an immediate surge of energy, store energy for later use, enhance thinking skills, and get other nutrients that come with natural sugars. But not all sugars are healthy. Naturally occurring sugars from fruits and milk, known as complex carbohydrates, are what provide the body with essential nutrients as well as regulate blood sugars.
Added sugars, the ones you get from processed foods, contain less nutritional value and are now the focus of studies due to their negative effects on human health. Too much added sugar can affect the body’s natural functions and cause changes that can pose some serious health challenges in the long run.
Since the holidays aren’t complete without the sweet treats, we provide you with tips on how to consume sugar without putting your health at risk. Here they are:
Keep it slow and sweet
Abruptly cutting out sugar from your diet is a big no-no. This not only hurts your sweet tooth but creates a conflict within your system. A part of your brain may say no, but another part may say yes.
It takes time for your body and brain to cope with the changes that are going on within you. Cutting out sugar should be a habit and not something that you do today and maybe not tomorrow because the temptation is so hard to bear.
Start by reducing your sugar intake slowly and deliberately. See it as a slow process. Give up baked goods like cakes and pastries until you’re comfortable with it. Next, eliminate candy, sodas, and other sugary liquids. Taking these baby steps helps you better able to manage cutting out sugar in the long run.
Find out where sugar is hiding
While you know that you can get sugar from sugar packets added to your morning coffee or from your cookie snacks and ice cream, sugar can be hiding in some other places. They can be in your bread, cereals, nut butter, salad dressings, tomato sauces, and others.
When you’re eating these foods in one meal, it could mean you’re eating too much sugar in just a day. By seeing this pattern, you now have an idea of where to start cutting back on sugar. You may want to eliminate first the dressings and replace them with something healthier. It’s easier to find a strategy that works for you once you see the bigger picture.
Write it in a journal
Having a list of the foods you eat and their corresponding sugar content makes it easier for you to track your sugar intake. Include in your list everything you consume including mini chocolate bars or sweet beverages. This may take a bit of an effort, but it would be worth it. Your body will thank you in the long run.
Doing this also helps you realize the amount of sugar you’ve been consuming with less awareness and can make you think if you really need to add one more teaspoon of sugar or cream in your coffee.
Sugar loves to hide in other names. Despite the manufacturer’s claim that their product has no added sugar, the label reveals it. Sugar can be hiding under the names of sucrose, glucose, fructose, and other words ending in “-ose”. Syrups and concentrates are also forms of dissolved sugar, which are commonly found in corn syrup, maple syrup, rice syrup, honey, muscovado, beet sugar, evaporated cane juice and others. Some foods are even 80 percent sugar.
Don’t be fooled by marketing. Read labels before deciding if the product you’re buying is worth its price.
Stay away from simple carbs
Simple carbs like white flour, white pasta, and white rice are easily broken down by the body into sugar, which can spike up your blood glucose levels. Stay away from these types and go for the good carbs like whole grains and potatoes.
Be aware of artificial sugars
Since lots of people are starting to get conscious about their diet, the diet industry tried to cater to people’s needs by introducing artificial sugars, which are much sweeter than sugar but contain fewer calories.
But the idea of tricking the brain into thinking that you’re consuming sugar can have negative effects. This can increase your sugar cravings, making it hard for you to avoid sugar completely. Make it a point to stick to your no sugar diet and avoid artificial sugars such as Splenda, stevia, equal, and others.
Avoid quenching your thirst with sugary liquids
Don’t believe what commercials say. You can quench your thirst without having to grab for ice-cold carbonated drinks. Some studies show that cold and carbonated drinks are great at quenching your thirst but not the best at hydrating yourself. Instead, these drinks can actually dehydrate you.
Loads of sugars in sweetened and carbonated drinks cause more injury to the kidneys. And it’s the sugar in these drinks that give you an instant reprieve from the heat, which is unhealthy, of course.
If plain water is not enough to quench your thirst, make your own sparkling drink. Squeeze a slice of lemon in a glass of iced pure water. You not only get to alleviate your thirst but also hydrate yourself.
Prepare your own food
For convenience’s sake, canned goods or foods in packets are easy to prepare. You only have to open the container and, voila, instant food. But aside from artificial flavorings and preservatives you get from processed foods, they also contain loads of sugars.
The only way to ensure you’re not eating too much sugar is to cook your food. You can get different homemade and healthy recipes from the internet. So, there’s no need for you to worry about how this is done. Even if you have less talent in the kitchen, you still can make your own healthy food minus the sugar.