Recently, the U.S. Departments of Health and Human Services (HHS) and of Agriculture (USDA) jointly published the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Among the recommendations was a new stance on sugar intake recommending that people "consume less than 10 percent of calories per day from added sugars." But why is the government recommending eating less sugar? A basic and important reason is that sugar is inflammatory, and inflammation is now believed to be at the heart of every degenerative disease we know. The research in the past decade has implicated sugar in cancer, gout, diabetes, obesity, and heart disease. Here’s a list of 7 easy tips that can help you begin to reduce your sugar intake right away. Focus on just one of these items at a time and make small changes in your daily life to ensure long term success.
1. Don’t add sugar to your food.
This is the easiest and most basic way to immediately reduce the amount of sugar you’re eating.
2. Eliminate processed carbohydrates.
Most processed carbs—breads, bagels, pastas, snacks, crackers, cereals—are loaded with refined flour and other ingredients that convert to sugar in the body quickly. That sugar gets stored as triglycerides, a fancy way of saying “fat”.
3. Shop for color.
The more your grocery basket looks like the rainbow, the better. It usually means you’re getting more fresh vegetables and low-glycemic fruits such as berries, cherries and apples. Increase the greens in your diet too! They are the highest in phytonutrients and fiber.
4. Become a food detective.
In order to reduce sugar, you have to know where it is. Start reading labels!
5. Do the math.
Look at the label where it says “total sugars” and divide that number by four, since there are four grams of sugar per teaspoon. The number you wind up with is the number of teaspoons of sugar you’re ingesting, and that’s just “per serving”! This exercise is always an eye opener.
6. Beware of artificial sweeteners.
Unfortunately, artificial sweeteners can increase cravings for sugar and carbohydrates. They send a sweet signal to the brain and never deliver any real energy. This drives an even stronger message of hunger and desire for sweet. They can also deplete the body’s stores of chromium, a nutrient crucial for blood-sugar metabolism.
7. Try to balance every meal and snack with a quality protein, healthy fat and whole, unprocessed carbohydrate.
It may not be possible for you to completely eliminate sugar from your diet. But to the extent that you can, you’ll be doing yourself, and your health, a great service.