How Do I Cut Down on Sweets?
It is estimated that the average American takes in 22 teaspoons of sugar a day, which adds up to approximately 92 grams and 350 calories. While sugar can be hidden in lots of foods, it is often highly concentrated in sweets such as donuts, candy, cookies, pastries, sugar-sweetened beverages and other processed snack foods.
So, how much sugar should you be eating you might ask? The 2015–2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend consuming 10 percent or less of your total calories from added sugars. On a 2000-calorie diet, that is 12 teaspoons or 48 grams of sugar and 200 calories a day. Other health authorities recommend even less than that! The World Health Organization says 5 percent or less of total calories should come from sugar while the American Heart Association wants women to limit their daily sugar intake to 6 teaspoons (about 25 grams of sugar) and men to 9 teaspoons (36 grams of sugar).
For many, it can be hard, and even overwhelming, to cut down on their favorite sweet foods, but following some simple steps can help you be successful without feeling deprived!
Swap sugar for a healthier alternative – To cut down on sweets, first identify where they exist in your diet. Then, think of healthy ways you can make a tweak. For example, try flavoring your oatmeal with a splash of vanilla and cinnamon instead of brown sugar or filling your yogurt with fresh berries instead of honey. If you love sweet tea, a fruit flavored tea might do the trick. Or, if you crave something sweet, try eating a piece of fruit. Full of nutrients and fiber, it is sure to satisfy your sweet tooth!
Un-do sweet habits – Many people associate certain activities with sweets such as eating ice cream while watching TV, buying a box of candy when at the movies or ordering a soda when at a sports game. If this is a once-in-a-while activity, then it is not a problem. However, if it happens multiple times a week, it can add up to lots of sugar in your diet. The truth is, you will likely enjoy the activity without the sweet treat. So, if you have habits that involve eating sugary foods or beverages, try a healthier alternative, eating before the event or just enjoying the activity itself.
Game plan your sweet splurges – It’s not to say you can’t ever eat your favorite treat, as depriving yourself never leads to success! But, you should game plan where sweets fit into your week. Maybe you have a birthday party, a wedding or a work event on the calendar and you know you want to splurge at it. Great, enjoy your sweets on that day and limit your intake of them the rest of the week. Or, maybe you need a little treat every day, try one bite of your favorite sweet and learn to be satisfied with it. Having a plan can help you stay on the sweet path to success!
Add in protein and fat – Many individuals live on a blood sugar roller coaster. Between skipping meals, eating carbohydrates by themselves and snacking on sweets throughout the day, they are always in a high or low blood sugar state. This can lead to low energy levels, cravings and overeating sweet foods. But not to worry, there is a solution! Protein (meat, chicken, fish, eggs, dairy, etc.) and fat (nuts, seeds, nut butters, avocado, etc.) slow down digestion helping you get full faster and stay full longer. When paired with a carbohydrate, they stabilize blood sugar levels. Thus, eating eggs with your bagel, cheese with crackers or peanut butter with an apple can help keep sugar cravings at bay.
Remove sweets from your sight – If you are tempted by sweets, one easy tip is to get them out of sight! Don’t keep things like candy in your desk drawer, in a candy bowl or in the pantry. This can set you up for distraction. Many people wouldn’t go looking for a sweet treat, but if they see one, they can’t get their mind off it. Establishing a healthy environment can help you stay on track!
If you are interested to hear more and receive personalized nutrition, check out STYR’s app, fitness tracker and suite of connected smart devices. Through the platform, you can track and log activity, food, hydration, sleep, nutrition, mood and more to personalize your nutrition needs based on data, science and access to registered dietitians, nutritionists and personal trainers.
Please note that this information is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. We insist that you always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical/health condition or treatment and before initiating a new health care regime. Do not disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on the STYR app or on www.MyNutritioniQ.com.