Here’s how to nix some of the sugar in your diet and keep cravings under control.
Sometimes it seems impossible to resist a craving for sugar – and sometimes you don’t even realize how much sugar you’re consuming. You’ll not only find sugar in places you would expect, like cookies and candy, but it’s hiding in places like ketchup and packaged foods that don’t even taste sweet. And those drinks that keep you going all day long? Chances are that’s where a majority of your daily sugar intake is coming from.
The 2015-2020 U.S. Dietary Guidelines recommend adults limit sugar consumption to 10% of daily calories. If you follow a 2,000 calorie diet, that equals about 12 teaspoons of sugar or less. The World Health Organization suggests that reducing sugar intake to 5% or less of daily calories (6 teaspoons) would provide additional health benefits.
Many Americans don’t come close to meeting these health guidelines. In fact, the average American adult consumes about 22 teaspoons of added sugar a day. Over 70% of American adults get more than 10% of their calories from sugar, according to a study in JAMA Internal Medicine.
So how do you reduce the amount of sugar you eat and keep sugar cravings under control?
- Read labels. You may be surprised by how much sugar is in the processed foods you eat. To become more educated, read labels. Different brands of the same food may have very different amounts of sugar.
- Ditch the drinks. The majority of sugar in Americans’ diets comes from soda and other sugary drinks. One of the easiest ways to reduce your sugar consumption is to drink water, flavored seltzer or tea instead of soda and juice.
- Don’t skip meals. Skipping meals leads to hunger and can increase sugar cravings. Eat at regular intervals to keep hunger at bay.
- Include protein and healthy fat. When you eat too many carbohydrates, especially simple carbs like sugar or white flour, you set yourself up for peaks and dips in energy levels. This can leave you craving more sugar. Combine healthy carbs with protein and fat to stay fuller longer and prevent a blood sugar rollercoaster ride.
- Reach for fruit. If you’re craving something sweet, eat fruit. The natural sugar in fruit is accompanied by fiber and healthy nutrients. In contrast, added sugars in processed foods are just filled with empty calories.
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Date Last Reviewed: November 5, 2019
Editorial Review: Andrea Cohen, Editorial Director, Baldwin Publishing, Inc. Contact Editor
Medical Review: Nora Minno, RD, CDN