Sugar often lurks in the places you’d least expect it—in “wholesome” bread, your go-to “healthy” snack bar and your post-workout smoothie—and it may be just the reason you can’t get that flat belly you’ve been working on.
The good news is that it’s possible to cut back. To help you do just that (and ward off tooth decay, diabetes and high blood pressure), we’ve compiled a list of easy ways to slash your sugar intake without sacrificing the deliciousness of all your favorite foods.
1. Educate yourself
Before you freak out and throw away everything in your kitchen, take a moment to fully understand the official sugar recommendation and the difference between added sugar and naturally occurring sugar. Fruits, vegetables and plain dairy products have naturally occurring sugar that you shouldn’t overly concern you. Because fruits and veggies contain other nutrients, like fiber and healthy fats, the liver doesn’t process the sugar in the same way it would a cookie or a candy bar. In other words, the sugar in apples and peppers won’t contribute to weight gain and diabetes like a soda will.
Unfortunately, our labeling laws haven’t quite caught up to our dietary guidelines, and food products do not yet have a column dedicated to added sugars. Instead, the naturally occurring sugars and the added stuff is all clumped together under “sugar.” This is particularly confusing when you’re buying things like flavored yogurt, which contain both types of the sweet stuff. So when in doubt, read the ingredients list. If you see words like sugar, honey, agave or even organic cane juice, know that there’s added sugar in your food. To find out how much, look at a similar unflavored version of the product you’re interested in buying and see how they differ. For example, if a serving of plain oatmeal has 1 gram of sugar and a flavored version has 16, it’s safe to assume you’d be consuming 15 grams of added sugar. When it comes to candy and sweets, assume all it’s all the added variety. Read more