Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about sugar. Growing up as a dessert lover, anything with a real kick of sweetness was good by me. I would stir a heaping 4 spoonfuls of sugar in to my tea after school, sneak sugar cubes out of the box from fancy parties, and lick the cake batter right out of the bowl. One of these things still stands true.
Over time, I obviously have cut down on my sugar intake, but I realized recently that I was still really going overboard without even trying! With the help of the My Fitness Pal app, I started tracking my food intake just on the weekdays to try to help myself from grabbing that third cookie or mindlessly eating chips in front of the TV after work. It’s been incredibly helpful with that, as well as helping me see the power of exercise (so many more snacks allowed on workout days!). What I didn’t anticipate was the insight it would bring to my intake on things like protein, vitamins, and mostly, sugar.
You all know I love sweets, and I’m totally fine with committing myself to a sweet indulgence, but I was hitting my sugar intake for the day by lunch time without even having one dessert! AHHHH! How was this even possible? Little did I realize, I’d been eating unnecessary sugar in so many of my foods. Though some of it was natural sugar from fruits and dairy, I realized how much I could cut down with a few simple changes in my diet. Check out my tips below to see where you can save sweetness for dessert and not keep it hidden where you don’t enjoy it:
5 Easy Tips to Cut Unnecessary Sugar from Your Diet
1. Breakfast cereals are FULL of sugar! Go to your pantry and check out the labels. If you don’t strictly eat plain Cheerio’s, you’re going to find anywhere from 8-15 grams of sugar per serving. This includes “healthy” cereals like Special K (which I eat all the time), yikes! Also, if you throw in 2/3 cup of 1% milk you get another 9 grams of sugar. This was insane to me.
In order to increase protein intake and cut the sugar, I switched my breakfast to 2 soft boiled eggs and a half a cup of strawberries. I can make the hard boiled eggs the night before and eat them quickly in the morning. They have less than 1 gram of sugar a piece and 6 grams of protein! The strawberries have only 4 grams of sugar, even though they taste so sweet.
2. Fruity yogurts are sneakily sweet. I love grabbing Greek yogurt cups at the start of the week because of its great protein, calcium, and good bacteria properties. What I don’t love is that it costs me 17 grams of sugar to eat them.
By switching to a plain Greek yogurt and adding your own fruit, you can cut up to 10 grams of sugar and still get all the same benefits. What I do now is buy a large container of Chobani plain Greek yogurt (I’ve found it to be the lowest in sugar) and portion it out into Tupperware. Then I add fresh cut berries to the top and throw them in the fridge. Letting the fruit sit over the week sweetens up the yogurt and tastes just like the store bought fruity cups.
3. Some fruits are sweeter than others. Obviously fruit is still good for you, but you can pick some that are a little easier on the sweet tooth than others. Raspberries, strawberries, and blackberries are the least sweet fruits you can buy, while cherries, bananas, and mangoes will put you into a sugar coma. Just swapping fruit choices will help you out, sometimes by up to 10 grams of sugar a serving!
4. You can have your cake and save sugar too! Ok, cake is a bad example, but you can still feel indulgent while not picking the sweetest desserts. Having dark chocolate versus milk chocolate will cut the sugar in half. A mixed berry cobbler with reduced sugar will also come in lower than lemon squares… but honestly I’m OK with committing to a sweet dessert. It’s dessert after all!
5. Other places sugar is hiding include fruit juices, pasta sauces, and granola bars – all things we expect to be full of nutrients and health benefits are also full of sugar. Try to avoid these if possible.
Don’t feel the need to go overboard, but try a sugar saving trick here and there just to see how you feel. Reducing sugar intake can improve your skin, energy level, and overall health, so let’s work on it. Do you have any other good tricks to share?