A spoonful of sugar? Americans are swallowing 22 teaspoons of sugar each day, and it’s time to cut way back! Most of that added sugar comes from soft drinks and candy – the equivalent of guzzling two cans of soda and eating a chocolate bar. Remember, if you are consuming excessive amounts of added sugar, you will add calories, which leads to weight gain, or you will displace other essential nutrients. To check for added sugar, look for a variety of ingredients including sugar, corn syrup, fructose, high fructose corn syrup, dextrose, molasses or evaporated cane juice on the label. What YOU can do:
Take a good hard look at what you are drinking each day, figure out where the sources of added sugars are and think about how to cut back on that. Plan ways to substitute sugary foods in your diet with things like sweet vegetables, fruits or herbal teas.
1. Put down the can. Soft drinks are the biggest culprit! Soft drinks by far, followed by candy, cakes, cookies and pies. With about 8 teaspoons of added sugar, a regular 12-ounce soft drink will put most over the recommended daily limit. Keep in mind, it DOES NOT make it ok if they are diet drinks. Artificial sweeteners (such as Splenda, Equal, Sweet & Low, etc.) are even more toxic than the refined sugars that are in regular sugary drinks!
2. Drink water. Replacing carbonated soft drinks with water will cut a lot of your sugar intake, and the benefits don’t stop there. Drinking two glasses of water before a meal may encourage the stomach to feel full more quickly, so you don’t eat as much. Lots of the time you may have a sweet craving because your body is dehydrated, so drink up!
3. Drink real fruit juice. Juice can have as many calories as soda, but it has far more to offer in the way of nutrients. This presents a dilemma — you want the vitamins and antioxidants without all the extra sugar. The safest bet: Look for 100% fruit juice. Steer clear of juice drinks that have added sweeteners. Look for the percent of real juice, noted on the nutritional label. You can also slash sugar intake by drinking water with a splash of juice. Feel free to squirt some lemon, lime or orange slices into your water for a healthy, yet flavorful drink!
4. Try coconut water! Sports and energy drinks are sugar bombs like soda. Although they contain electrolytes which are great for hydrating the body, its still smarter to stay hydrated with water rather than sports drinks. A wonderful alternative to sports drink is coconut water. It’s a natural isotonic beverage, with the same level of electrolytic balance as we have in our blood. It contains more potassium than most sports or energy drinks and has less sodium. It’s the fluid of life, so to speak!
5. Enjoy a cup of tea. Herbal teas can be not only delicious, but hydrating at the same time. There is a wide variety of flavorful herbal teas that will satisfy your sweet tooth. Right now I’ve been enjoying Yogi Tea’s Mayan Cocoa Spice made with cinnamon bark. It has low caffeine and plenty of rich chocolate flavor! It’s a must try!