10 Tips to Cut Back on Sugar

photo by kiara982
SUGAR! Most of us eat too much of it, I know I was really addicted when younger. I would sneak sweets all the time because I JUST NEEDED SUGAR. I would wait until no one was around then go get handfuls of jellybeans from our pantry. After Mark and I got married I started eating less, and am amazed by the fact that I am fine with eating less sugar now. I still eat pretty much any offered sweets when out, and thoroughly enjoy them, but I eat a TON less sugar then I used to. I am fairly sure eating less sugar is what got rid of the frequent headaches I used to have, healed me from chronic knee pain, and helped with clear my skin up drastically (that might also be going from 17 to 22 :D). So, without further ado, here are my number ten tips to eating less sugar:

10) Make more foods from home- you have control over what goes into them, and you can use high quality fresh ingredients packed full of flavor, instead of needing to rely on shelf stable foods such as super refined salt, sugar, and nasty oils. 

9) Drink things without sugar- Milk, coconut milk, homemade flavored waters, herbal teas (without added sugar), and if you adventurous fermented drinks such as ginger beer, and Lacto-fermented lemonade (has sugar, but about 80% is already eaten up by good bacteria) are all good alternatives to juices, ades, aids, and soda. 
8) Re-examine your “health food”- Juice, low fat foods, yogurt, granola bars, and kefir are all good examples of sugar laden “health foods”.

  • Juice has 22-32 grams of sugar per 8 oz cup of juice. That is 5 1/5- 8 t. Yes, that is a lot of sugar. But it has other benefits doesn’t it? Not really. The fruit goes through so much processing that by time it gets to your table, all the other benefits are pretty much (if not completely) gone. The fruit is squeezed, leaving behind the fiber (a natural block to eating too much fruit sugar), and then the juice is heated, sits, is exposed to light ect. Orange juice is so processed they have to re-flavor it before selling it. Another downfall is a lot of the more popular juices (grape and apple for example) are made from some of the “dirtiest” fruit. Even when I can not buy those organic I know at least I can wash them well, and will not be getting the pesticide residue from 6+ apples in a one glass of juice. 
  • Have you seen those bottles of kefir in just about every health food store? Well, they have 80 grams of sugar added to them. That is more sugar then a 20 oz bottle of soda, 3 servings of ice cream, it is nearly 7 T of sugar. That is a TON! Go eat a pint of ice cream. You will get the same amount of sugar.
  • Granola bars and store sweetened yogurt are two more “health” food offenders. To figure out how much sugar is in something remember 4 grams of sugar = 1 t. And do not forget to see how much a serving is. Often times something will be designed for ONE person, but advertise the amount of sugar for ONE serving (when there are 2 or more). 
7) Use fruit, fresh and dried, as sweets. Dried fruit is very sweet while still retaining most of the nutrition from the fresh fruit. You can put dried fruit with nuts into a food processor, then have a very gooey sweet mess that can be made into dried fruit balls. They are super yummy, and healthy. Fresh fruit is also a good thing to go for when you are wanting something sweet. Even if it does not fully cut your desire for something sweet, you will be partially filling up on something healthy.

6) Go savory, instead of sweet, for breakfast and snacks. A lot of breakfast foods are more dessert then anything else. Why not go savory instead of sweet? Eggs, toast with butter, biscuits and gravy, ect. Even muffins have a lot less sugar then cereals and other pastries, and can be made ahead and frozen for busy mornings.

5) Go for less refined- in all carbs. The more refined the carb, the quicker it spikes your blood sugar. What goes up, must come down. Then you crave… SUGAR. Nasty cycle. Eating less refined sugar, honey, sorghum, maple syrup, and occasionally sucanat are good examples. If nothing else they are a lot more expensive, so you will use them less. Just remember, liquid sweeteners are almost always more concentrated then dry sugars. So use less.

4) “Sweeten” with other flavors- It might seem coo-coo to tell you to sweeten with vanilla, but if you think about it, what is stevia? It is sweetening with a flavor instead of a sugar. (Though we don’t use stevia here. I find it nasty) Vanilla is not as potent by any means, but it sweetens in it’s own way. I like to “sweeten” with vanilla when making smoothies that have a lot of tang from cultured dairy and spinach. It never really takes the need for sugar away, but it lessons the need so you can get away with less sugar (or in the case of smoothies, fruit and vanilla is plenty). Having a bit of salt does the same thing, as does cinnamon. Just remember to highlight flavors in your sweets OTHER then sugar.

3) Don’t go shopping, or get on pinterest, when hungry :D – This one does not require an explanation, does it? I love the dessert ideas on pinterest, but it is best avoided at 4 in the afternoon right before you make dinner.

2) DON’T go Low Fat- This is number 2 for a reason! It is a biggy.

  • “Low fat” is often code for “more sugar.” Flavor has to come somewhere. Low fat vs. full fat yogurt is a good example. I can not stomach low fat yogurt on it’s own, but it is full fat it has a lot less unpleasant tang, and is so delicious. I still sweeten it most of the time, but it takes a LOT less sugar in fact I enjoy it with nothing but fruit.
  • Fat helps carbs not spike your blood sugar (please note I have not said carbs are bad, just that they will spike your blood sugar if used incorrectly. They are in fact part of a balanced healthy diet). When you eat sweets, or carbs in general, there should always be some fat involved, so that you don’t have sugar spike and crash leading to needing more sugar, and another crash. Ect. ect.
  • Fat keeps you full longer, resulting in less 8 o’clock brownies. Yes, fat has more calories then other foods, but it is also more filling. Low fat foods leave you hungry a little while later after eating, but a dinner with fat is far more satiating. We eat a decent amount of beans and rice, but I will always either have butter in the rice or serve it with cheese, sour cream, or avocado. Fat is important. 
  • Fat helps you absorb nutrients in foods. Sometimes hunger is just the need for more nutrients. 

1) Eat Less Sugar – No. I have not lost it. I am dead serious, my number one tip to cut back on sugar is to eat less sugar. When we were COMPLETELY sugar free (no honey, no sorghum, no molasses, no sugar, no foods with added sugar [even breads, marinara, ect.]) for four weeks on our elimination diet all the foods we did have tasted sweeter, and more flavorful. I am convinced that sugar numbs your taste buds. Perhaps not literally but practically ,because everything needs more sugar. Now, I was glad when we could have sugar again and I wanted sugar while on it, but I definitely did not need as much as I had before the elimination diet. I am contemplating going sugar free again soon, just so that I can taste that delicious food again. But, even a not super high sugar diet (low sugar compared to most americans) foods have more flavor and I desire less sweets.

When I first started eating less sugar a couple years ago, it was hard. But I am glad of it now.

How about you? What are some tips you have for eating less sugar? 

Fight Back Friday @ Food Renegade

Comments

  1. I immediately had to pause in reading this post when you mentioned lacto-fermented lemonade to go research. I was really excited since I’ve been craving lemonade a lot during my pregnancy. Then the first post I looked at said the process will produce alcohol so you should avoid it during pregnancy. Oh well…

    • Sorry. I hate when something sounds SOOO good then I can not have it. Lemonade made with honey is delicious, if you like honey flavor. Still a ton of sugar, but a good alternative perhaps?

  2. We *try* to limit sweets to right after a meal when we’re at home. A is usually only home for one major meal, so we eat dessert after that one. Being pregnant helped me reduce sugar intake because I couldn’t afford it (financially or physically) and needed to focus on protein intake.

    • That is where we are right now. I am hoping to get pregnant soon, but still have quite a bit of a weight left over from Natalia. Mark gets headaches from sugar. And when we have sugar around, even if we do not get the expensive stuff, it makes other expensive ingredients such as butter, vanilla, cocoa powder, ect. disappear. So, we decided to not buy sugar. We still have molasses and sorghum, but that is about it.

  3. Thank you for this post. We do make most of our goodies at home, we started to use the product stevia to replace 1/2 the sugar in homemade treats as my hubby even with false teeth still has a large sweet tooth. Stevia has no calories and absorbs slower in your system than sugar, just like honey in that aspect. It is a different flavor and took some time for us to get use to it, but now my daughter and I prefer it to sugar.

    We also do the suggestions you listed. We make flavored water using stevia, we even made root beer flavored water and it really does help to satisfy our sugar cravings.

    We also did find “health foods” are laden with sugar and many of the vegetarian recipes you find are laden with sugar, as well. Due to an illness, we had to avoid animal protein for a short time and sought out vegan recipes and were surprised by them.

    People have different chemistry that make going savory a little more difficult for some than for others, yet we found it is another place where we had to give it time for our bodies to acclimate to the diet change. My hubby still will not eat things made with stevia or honey only.

    Going for less refined carbs is a nice suggestion, but there are folks on such a tight budget such things are not possible no matter how you stack it. People often wonder why the poor are so overweight, it is difficult to fill the stomachs of growing children under such circumstances, if you see what the government supplies this group. It is changing for them but slowly.

    Scriptures tells us the reason God gave the Jewish people dietary laws are for good health. Science has found there is benefit to all those laws. We are not under the law, yet such rules are beneficial to our health. The more we studied about them and tried to do them the healthier we became.

    God bless you.

    • I love savory items but my husband really had to cut back on his sugar and it was hard on him.

      I know what you mean about budget making it hard to go with whole foods. We can’t really sucanat right now, so we are just not using sugar temporarily because I’d rather not use the white sugar.