Evidence and research have showed, time and again, that too much sugar is linked to obesity, heart disease, and diabetes. Even worse? A recent study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition shows that sugar is also addictive, so we crave it.
So how do we kick our sugar habit, get healthy, and lose weight?
For help, we turned to Paddy Spence, a wellness expert with over 20 years in the natural foods industry. He was head of sales and marketing at Kashi and is now the CEO of Zevia, a stevia*-sweetened, zero calorie soda alternative. Paddy, a triathlete, cut out sugar from his own diet 14 years ago, and was so energized by the change in his own life that he purchased Zevia in 2010. He gave us these tips, in his own words, for how to kick added sugar from our diets for good.
*Stevia is a natural, plant-based sweetener.
How to Start Your Low Sugar Diet
1. Forget Fruit Knock-Offs
Whole fruits offer fiber and other good-for-you ingredients like vitamins. Fruit juice and dried fruit, on the other hand, are sugar-concentrated versions of the real thing.
2. Be a Sugar Sleuth
Take an inventory of your diet to track down where you’re getting most of your sugar. It’s easy to pinpoint sources like the sugar in your coffee, but sugar finds its way to us in all kinds of guises. Low-fat yogurt, breakfast cereal, energy bars, and bottled drinks are some of the worst offenders.
3. Cut Down on Condiments
There’s a reason kids love ketchup…it’s one of the most sugary condiment culprits, and barbecue sauce is just as bad. Perhaps the sneakiest of the lot, however, is salad dressing — especially fat-free varieties. The best way to control sugar content is to make your own dressing.
4. Cast Out Coated Snacks
From a sugar perspective, treats like honey-roasted nuts, teriyaki jerky, and yogurt-covered pretzels run neck-and-neck with candy bars. Opt for the naked versions.
5. Steer Clear of Cereal
Some choices — like Frosted Flakes and Honey Nut Cheerios — are obvious sugar pushers. But don’t be fooled by seemingly healthy options like granola. A new report by the Environmental working Group found that kids’ cereals were actually the worst sugar offenders.
6. Forego Fruit-Flavored Yogurts
A cup of regular fruit-flavored yogurt can contain about 30 grams of sugar (that’s not much less than a can of Coke)! If you want blueberry yogurt, you’re much better off stirring fresh blueberries into plain yogurt. They’re naturally low in sugar.
7. Not All Sweeteners Are Equal
Although your body metabolizes different sweeteners differently, at the end of the day it’s all sugar. Try stevia, a natural no-cal sweetener. It’s great for both coffee and baking, and a little goes a long way.
8. Curb Cravings with Protein
Everyone’s different, but a high-protein snack can help suppress a sweet tooth. Try a hard-boiled egg, a cup of cottage cheese, or a spoonful of natural peanut butter to stave off a hankering.
9. Go for Lower-Sugar Desserts
Dark chocolate gives taste buds a treat without sugar overload. A bowl of low-sugar granola with milk will also satisfy an after-dinner appetite.
10. Don’t Try to Be Superwoman or Superman