The American Heart Association suggests that women consume no more than six teaspoons (or about 25 grams) of added sugar per day that is around 100 calories. For men, it is no more than nine teaspoons (or about 36 grams) or around 150 calories. In this context, “added” means any sugars or sweeteners added to foods or beverages during processing.
Whether it is white sugar, brown sugar, honey, high-fructose corn syrup, or other sweeteners, it all counts as sugar. This is in contrast to naturally occurring sugars found in fruits (as fructose) or milk (as lactose).
Six to nine teaspoons are not much. Drinking a single can of diet soda gives you more sugar than the American Heart Association recommends for an entire day. Therefore, if you are trying to lose weight, managing heart disease or diabetes, or seek to live a healthier lifestyle, avoiding sugar will help.
However, it is not easy to do, especially since sugar is in many of the products and foods we regularly consume. Many foods you may not necessarily think of as sweets, including bread, crackers, condiments, salad dressings, and countless processed foods have processed sugar. Therefore, you may be consuming much more sugar than you realize.
Below are five tips on how to avoid sugar in your diet.
- Read the label. Once you start looking for sugar, you may be shocked at how often it shows up on food labels. Look for it listed as both grams and in the ingredients list. Labels list ingredients in the order of how much is in a product. If sugar is near the top of the list, you may want to avoid the product.
- Know the other names for sugar. Sugar goes by many names; therefore, it is best to not only look for the word “sugar” on labels. You also have to look for other ingredients posing as sugar. These include high fructose corn syrup, invert sugar, molasses, corn syrup, honey, syrup, dextrose, fructose, glucose, lactose, maltose, and sucrose, among others. If you see combinations of these on the label, it means it is high in sugar.
- Choose good canned fruit. Buy fruit packed in juice rather than syrup to decrease your sugar intake.
- Use alternate flavorings. Instead of using sugar to sweeten or flavor foods try cinnamon, vanilla extract, vanilla bean, nutmeg, ginger, or other spices instead.
- Watch your beverages. Many people consume much of their sugar through beverages – whether they realize it or not. So check those labels. Most flavored waters, energy drinks, smoothies, and even bottled coffee drinks contain large servings of sugar.
Take a realistic approach to avoiding sugar. Weaning yourself off the sweet stuff is fine. Paying close attention to food labels will help you cut back gradually until you can maintain the proper balance with ease.
Want to save on sugar substitutes? Check out pantry food coupons or healthy living coupons before you shop.