If you were able to read our previous post “The Scary Truth About Sugar“, then you now have some of the background on the history of sugar and fructose, and the ways it has been absolutely detrimental for our society especially in the last 30 or so years. As promised, I wanted to provide some methods for ways to reduce (or even eliminate) sugar from your diet. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again – we at GUADS are big advocates of balance, moderation, and loving what you eat. While fully eliminating added sugar may not be something you want to or can do at this point, we could all benefit from reducing our daily sugar intake.
In “Sugar: The Bitter Truth”, Dr. Robert Lustig suggests that two of the most helpful ways to reduce sugar intake is to
a) Rid your home and your diet of all sugary drinks. Sugary drinks like soda, super sweet coffee drinks, and juice are responsible for a large amount of American’s sugar intake. By keeping only water, milk, and sugar-free tea and coffee in your home and diet, you can cut a large percentage of sugar out in one fell swoop. If fully cutting out doesn’t seem feasible right now, there are some swaps to explore (more on that below!)
b) Focus on increasing fiber (especially with sugar if you do eat it! Fiber reduces the rate of intestinal carbohydrate absorption, which then reduces the insulin response to sugar. In addition to this, fiber is responsible for suppressing insulin and increasing satiety which encourages you to eat smaller portions.
More Tips For Reducing Sugar Intake:
- Check labels!
You may be used to doing this, or this may be completely new for you, but looking at nutritional labels will tell you how much added sugar is in a particular food so you can make an informed decision on whether you want to eat it or what portion you want.
- Change the recipe.
Whether you are cooking, baking, or in the habit of adding sugar to foods, try cutting the portion you use by at least half. Often times you will not be able to notice a huge difference, and even if you do, your pallet will quickly adopt to not needing as much sweetener.
- Swap it out.
Substituting unsweetened applesauce and/or natural sweeteners like Monk Fruit sweetener for sugar and high fructose corn syrup is a great way to reduce or cut out sucrose/fructose.
- Add fruit instead.
Instead of brown sugar on top of oatmeal, try topping it with nuts, seeds, and fresh or frozen fruit. This goes for baking as well!
- Grab fruit first.
Experiencing a sweet craving? Try to check in with yourself for a moment before grabbing the pint of ice cream – could the craving be satisfied by eating fresh fruit or making a sugar-free fruit smoothie? Making ‘fruit first’ a habitual reflex will likely heavily reduce your desire to binge on the not so great sugary foods.
- Focus on fat + fiber vs. fructose.
I know, I know – sometimes you have such an intense craving for a rich dessert and eating raw fruit just won’t cut it. There are some naturally non-sugar foods that are high in fat that satiate that desire for richness, like coconut cream or pure cocoa powder for example. Try pairing it with fiber to give yourself added nutrients and stimulate the feeling of satiety sooner (like this recipe for example!)
What are some of your tips and tricks for reducing sugar consumption? Let us know!
Written by GUADS staff member Kate with contributions from University of California Television, desserts with benefits.com and heart.org