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5 Ways to Reduce Your Sugar Intake

As published on Zhou Nutrition

The average American consumes up to 22 teaspoons of sugar daily!

Many times, children are getting even more sugar than adults. In fact, it is estimated that children between ages of 9-18 may be getting 34 teaspoons of sugar daily!

Added sugar is one of the worst additives to foods today. We all know about “sugar highs” and the short term effects sugar can have on a child’s behavior, but there are many problems associated with excessive sugar intake over time as well.

Sugar is a top contributor to many chronic diseases and has harmful effects on the body’s metabolism. It leads to insulin resistance which is a stepping stone to diabetes and metabolic syndrome. Long term consumption can even lead to a condition known as Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and heart disease.

A 2011 study published in “Postgraduate Medicine” found correlations between excessive sugar intake and behaviors associated with ADHD. The reason may be related to a disruption of chemicals in the brain affecting the reward –related areas of the brain. Sugar can come in many forms added to foods such as fructose, dextrose, corn syrup and high fructose corn syrup (HFCS).

As sugar proves to be very addictive, removing sugar from our diets and the diets of our children can seem a bit out of reach.

Here Are 5 Simple Ways to Reduce Sugar!

Leave the Sugary Drinks Behind!

A 16 ounce Frappuccino can have up to 69 grams of sugar! Fruit juices and sports drinks are not any better and are loaded with sugar. Flavored water is the way to go. Try adding mint leaves, cucumber slices, or orange slices to your water. Mix it up and play around with it. Let the kids pick out the type of fruit they want to add to their water. If needed, add a few drops of stevia (however, stay away from artificial sweeteners) while your taste buds adjust to the change. Herbal teas are another great choice of beverage throughout the day.

Avoid Processed Foods to Nix Hidden Sugars!

A package of oatmeal can easily have 15 g of sugar in one serving. Skip the package and make your own from rolled oats, which contains 0 g of sugar. Toss the morning breakfast cereals and go for homemade oats instead. Added sugar can even show up in seemingly healthy foods such as whole wheat bagels, so be sure to check labels. Switch out the sugary processed treats with whole fruit to satisfy a sweet craving!

Yogurt

While yogurt seems like a great option for a snack, most yogurts are filled with sugar. Try to opt for non-flavored coconut yogurt with added berries or raisins.

Buy “Unsweetened” Varieties

If buying applesauce, almond milk, nut butters or canned fruit, stick to the unsweetened. This will save you loads of sugar. Keep in mind that you can switch unsweetened applesauce for sugar in many different baking recipes. Also, be wary of dried fruits. Many manufacturers add sugar and syrups. Be sure to check the ingredient list.

Cook at Home

Cooking at home ensures that you know what is in your food so you can avoid unwanted additives such as sugar. Openly discussing the foods we eat and the reasons we eat them can also go a long way for yourself and for children. Children don’t have an understanding of why we shouldn’t eat certain foods, but talking about the benefits of healthy foods can encourage them to eat healthier. Get the kids to help in the kitchen to increase their desire to try new and healthy foods. This helps serve as a great reminder for you to nix the sugar as well!

References:
Johnson, Richard J., Mark S. Gold, David R. Johnson, and Takuji Ishimoto. “Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder: Is It Time to Reappraise the Role of Sugar Consumption?” Postgraduate Medicine 123.5 (2011): 39-49.
Yale Health, Sugar Detective, http://yalehealth.yale.edu/sugardetective
Nseir W, Soft drinks consumption and nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, World J Gastroenterol. 2010 Jun 7;16(21):2579-88 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20518077

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