3 Ways to Break Your Sugar Habit

From EatingWell Magazine

When the most recent version of the United States Dietary Guidelines for Americans was published, it included a big change: for the first time it included a recommendation to limit added sugars. Added sugars are any sugars that do not occur naturally in a food (for example, fruit and dairy have natural sugars, while cookies, soft drinks and fruit juices all have added sugars).

The Guidelines suggest that getting too many of your calories from added sugars comes at a cost: it may mean you’re not getting enough calories from nutrient-rich foods. Consuming too many added sugars is also a concern because research suggests it may be linked to weight gain, obesity and heart disease. Yet we’re still eating plenty of them: the Dietary Guidelines suggests that 70 percent of Americans consume more added sugar than the recommended limits. 

How much added sugar is OK?

The Dietary Guidelines recommends limiting added sugars to no more than 10 percent of calories each day. On a 2,000-calorie-a-day diet, that’s no more than 200 calories a day. The American Heart Association recommends limiting sugar intake even further: it suggests that women consume no more than 100 calories per day from added sugar (about 6 teaspoons), and men consume no more than 150 calories from added sugars (about 9 teaspoons). As a point of reference, a 12-ounce can of cola contains approximately 130 calories or about 8 teaspoons of added sugar. 

These recommendations only apply to added sugars—those that are added to food by consumers or added during manufacturing (that means the sugar added to your crackers, cereal and other packaged foods counts). The naturally occurring sugar in fruit, vegetables, grains and dairy doesn’t count. 

How can I eat less added sugar?

If you think that you’re consuming more added sugar than the recommended limit, you may want to cut down. The biggest sources of added sugar are sodas, sweetened fruit drinks and packaged foods. Here are some tips to watch your intake.

Have fruit for dessert. Skip the cookies and ice cream and make fruit into your after-dinner treat. You’ll avoid added sugar and get some antioxidants and fiber from the fruit.

Drink smarter. Ditch soda and instead treat yourself to a low-calorie fizzy fruit-flavored seltzer drink using no-sugar-added 100 percent fruit juice. 

Make your own yogurt parfait. Flavored yogurt (even vanilla) contains added sugars. Instead, make your own custom concoction by topping low-fat plain yogurt with fresh fruit.

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