Five Simple Ways to Eat Less Sugar

I know it’s been forever and a day since my last blog post. It’s been so much going on in my world (more on that in another blog entry).

Well, March is National Nutrition Month and I felt inspired to create a health-related post. One of my latest goals is to eat less sugar. It’s not due to any health reasons but just something that I wanted to try. I also wanted to limit my sugar cravings (which thankfully, has lessened in recent weeks).

Eating too much sugar can have negative effects on your body. It’s been said to cause type 2 diabetes, heart disease and tooth decay. Here are some ways you can limit your sugar intake. It’s not that hard, it just takes some discipline.

1. Eat Fruit (just not too much)
We’ve all heard that fruit contains a lot of natural sugar, also known as fructose. Fructose is not to be confused with high fructose corn syrup. The benefits of eating fruit is that it contains fiber that fills you up and eases digestion. Fruits also contain minerals such as potassium (I eat a banana almost every morning for breakfast and bananas contain potassium). Fruit intake in general has been linked to reducing risk of disease. Cantaloupe, for example, has been proven to reduce the risk of developing cataracts as it contains beta-carotene. Beta-carotene is converted into Vitamin A in the body and is essential for eye health. Some low-sugar fruits include watermelon, grapefruit and strawberry.

2. Cut Back on Sugar at Home
This one seems like the most obvious example to cut back on sugar but it’s not that easy. I have a whole bag of sugar in my home right now so I get it. I was going to type “Eliminate” sugar from the home but this post is on ways to cut back on sugar not “eliminate” sugar completely. It’s doable to eliminate completely but for me personally, that would be kind of drastic.

I’m a tea drinker so I really only use the sugar for tea in the morning. On occasion, when I’ll have a decaf coffee or French vanilla coffee, I’ll use raw brown sugar that I have at home.

Although sugar cravings can occur at any time during the day, studies have shown that with the body’s internal clock, cravings for sweet and salty food occur mostly in the evenings. So, try to ease up on the sugary snacks at home. Check the labels on your snack of choice and read the sugar content.

There’s a farmer’s market near where I live and they have the best dark chocolate almonds. I’m a milk chocolate type of girl but dark chocolate has some great health benefits such as preventing cardiovascular disease, preventing stroke and improving brain function. So, um, yes to dark chocolate!

3. Get A Decent Amount of Sleep
Don’t ask me how many hours are considered “decent” because I could really use my own advice here when it comes to sleep. If you’re only getting three to four hours of sleep, that will not work. Inadequate amount of sleep has been linked to depression, high blood pressure and poor concentration, among other bad conditions. People underestimate how important sleep is. Lack of sleep also causes people to eat more junk food. You get less sleep so you crave something sweet (perhaps a candy bar or piece of cake) to boost your energy. There you go, the craving sets in. Studies have shown that those who get an adequate amount of sleep eat healthier and have less sugar cravings.

4. Eat Whole Foods
A great way to cut back on sugar is to eat less processed foods and eat more whole foods. According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, “processed food includes food that has been cooked, canned, frozen, packaged or changed in nutritional composition with fortifying, preserving or preparing in different ways.”

Whole foods such as fresh vegetables, fresh fish and unsalted nuts are a healthier option. Eating more home-cooked meals (cooking from scratch) is a good way to avoid preservatives found in many pre-made meals at restaurants and frozen meals in the supermarket. I never eat the frozen meals in the supermarket by the way.

5. Avoid High-Sugar Breakfast Foods
Breakfast cereals tend to be high in sugar. Of course, many of our favorites such as pancakes, waffles and muffins also contain tons of sugar. Some low-sugar breakfast options include hot oatmeal with fruit or avocado with eggs and whole grain toast.