Summer is vacation time. Whether your vacation consists of travel to ancient ruins, swinging on a hammock, or lazing about on your couch, vacation is a time to break away from the everyday and give your mind, body and soul a breather.
This summer, try taking a vacation from sugar. As Americans, we consume far too much sugar (see the graphic below, created by www.OnlineNursingPrograms.com).
We all know that a diet high in sugar is a recipe for disaster; the negative consequences range from weight gain and tooth decay to lowered immunity and heart disease.
So give your body a break. Follow these six steps to reduce the sugar in your diet and improve your health.
- Reduce your sweetened beverage consumption. As the graphic shows, the biggest sugar offenders are sweetened beverages – sodas are number one, but fancy coffee drinks and even 100% fruit juice, are loaded with sugar. Replace just one can of soda a day and give up about 10 teaspoons of sugar. Of course, Crystal Geyser Sparkling Water is the perfect alternative! Nothing but pure spring water, carbonation, and natural flavors. No sweeteners, no sugar.
- Eat fruit. If you must have sugar, get it as part of a whole food and pair it with foods high in fiber and “good fats” (nuts, avocados, coconut oil). Fruits contain fiber, vitamins and other phytonutrients (such as antioxidants) in addition to the natural sugar. The natural sugar in fruit will give you a healthy boost, and you’ll enjoy the added nutritional benefits.
- Read labels. It’s amazing how many products contain sugar. The majority of processed foods – foods that you find in the middle part of the grocery store – contain sugar. Teach your children how to read labels with you, so the whole family can make healthy choices.
- Be aware of the many names for artificial sweeteners and added sugar: high fructose corn syrup, dried cane syrup, invert sugar, molasses, sucrose (or any word ending in “-ose”), brown rice syrup, honey, and maple syrup. You might find several of these listed in the ingredients.
- Buy unsweetened. Lots of processed foods are sweetened, but some can be purchased without added sweeteners. They include yogurt, nut butters, non-dairy milks (like soy or almond), iced tea, apple sauce, canned fruits, and oatmeal packages.
- As the saying goes, everything in moderation. Think of it as “cutting back” rather than “giving up” and treat yourself to a dessert every now and then. After all, what would vacation be without enjoying a little something sweet?
Share your favorite sugar-reduction tip or a low or no-sugar recipe in the comments below.