Tips to Ditch Your Sugar Habit

How much sugar is in your diet.

Added sugar is the single worst ingredient in the modern diet. It provides calories with no added nutrients and can damage your metabolism in the long run. Eating too much is linked to weight gain and various diseases like obesity, cancer, type II diabetes and heart disease.

But how much is too much? Can you eat a little bit of sugar each day without harm, or should you avoid it as much as possible?

>>Read labels: Sugar sometimes hides behind words such as syrup and anything ending in –ose (such as sucrose).

>> Choose unsweetened varieties: Almond or soy milk, nut butters, and baking chocolate could all contain sugar, but many brands offer an “unsweetened” option.

>> Go sugar-free, not fat-free: Healthy fats, such as those found in avocados, nuts and nut butters, seeds, and olive or coconut oil will curb your hunger to make you feel full longer—thus decreasing sugar cravings.

>> Add your own spice: Ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, and vanilla all pack a potent profile to enhance your food with not only nutrients, but also good taste.

5% or less: The amount of our total daily calories that should come from sugar, according to the World Health Organization. For the average adult, this percentage equals about 6 teaspoons—less than the amount found in a typical can of soda.

Multiply the grams of sugar in a product by 4 to find the amount of calories from sugar in that product. For example, a food containing 10 grams of sugar has 40 calories from sugar—if you eat 2,000 calories a day, that’s 2 percent. Source: American Heart Association

Buzzword: Glycation Sugar you digest may attach to proteins such as collagen and form new molecules called advanced glycation end products, or AGEs. These AGEs allegedly degrade collagen and elastin, causing them to harden and lose elasticity—i.e., making skin dull and wrinkled.

Tips to avoid a sugar overload

Emphasize variety and balance from healthy foods for all of your meals, but do so especially on a day where you know you’ll be at a gathering with rich foods and a plethora of sugary temptations.  Some people skip meals in advance of the “big” holiday meal, but this can lead to overeating later in the day.  Studies show that those who eat breakfast tend to eat less total calories in a day than those who skip breakfast. 

At gatherings, survey the offerings and fill your plate with healthy options first.  Using MyPlate as a guide, make half of your plate vegetables and fruits and look for lean meats.  As the space dwindles on your plate, you’ll be forced to have small portions or maybe even just a bite or two of higher fat and calorie foods!

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