We know, we know, sugar is really, really yummy. It’s sweet by itself, it’s a huge component of baked goods, it does, in fact, have the ability to make the medicine go down better (thank you, Mary Poppins), and it truly melts in your mouth.
Sugar has the ability to actually activate the little feel-good dopamine chemicals in our brains, and our bodies like the energy it gives. This is all in moderation though. Our ancestors did not have the processed sugared candies, wrapped snacks, or soft drink craziness that we have today. Watching our sugar intake is actually an important step to improving your health.
Eating too much sugar has a whole host of health risks and can cause irreversible effects on a body:
- High Blood Pressure
- Weight Gain
- Teeth Cavities and Rot
- Fatty Liver Disease
- Chemically-Induced Cravings
- High Cholesterol Levels
- Inconsistent Glucose Levels
We’re not saying you need to cut all sugar from your diet, but here are four simple hacks to reduce your sugar intake:
1. Reduce the Consumption of Soft Drinks.
Soft drinks have an insane amount of sugar content in them. A 12-ounce can of Coca-Cola, for example, has 39 grams or NINE teaspoons of sugar included. A 20-ounce bottle of Mountain Dew has a whopping 77 grams of sugar.
2. Substitute Fresh Fruit for Processed Goodies
If you have a sweet tooth, fresh fruit will help curb that craving just as much as a piece of pie or a cookie.
Fresh fruit has less sugar overall when compared to a piece of candy or something like a slice of cake, and it’s full of natural sugars that the body needs. In addition, fresh fruit is filled with healthy vitamins, fiber, antioxidants, and minerals that are not present in something like a candy bar.
3. Have fun with new recipes, like adding lemon and mint leaves to your iced tea instead of packets of processed sugar.
Google and recipe bloggers are amazing and are great sources to find creative hacks to cut sugar while preserving flavor. One fantastic example we’ve found is for iced tea. A little bit of fresh lemon juice and freshly picked mint leaves (or from the grocery store) when added to iced tea is a great substitution for packets of processed sugar. They will also make your drink look nice if you’re entertaining, at a picnic, or at an outdoor BBQ.
4. Check the labels.
People are always surprised when they look at a food label and see the amount of sugar included. There are a ton of hidden sugar situations in condiments, sauces, and things like breakfast cereals that add up quickly and are just not necessary.
Just to give you an idea, one tablespoon of ketchup has one teaspoon of sugar. That’s more sugar than most ice creams.