Reducing Sugar is Good For Your Members’ Health
In general, Americans consume too much added sugar.
Added sugars are any caloric sweeteners added to foods or beverages during processing or preparation. People consume many popular favorites: sugary drinks, sweetened breakfast foods, flavored yogurt, syrups, sauces, candy, frozen treats, and sweet baked goods. This added sugar may contribute to diabetes, inflammation, oxidative stress, and cardiovascular disease, so cutting it out of one’s diet (or reducing it) is vital for a person’s health.
On the flip side, naturally occurring sugars in fruit, milk, and plain yogurt are part of a healthy diet.
How Many Grams of Sugar Per Day to Eat?
The American Heart Association recommends these daily limits on added sugar:
- For women, young adults, and children, six teaspoons (100 calories or less)
- For men, the limit is nine teaspoons (150 calories or less)
Many people already consume more than these amounts regularly. It’s easy to exceed the daily limit for those who do not monitor their sugar intake. For example, one can of regular soda has 12 teaspoons of sugar (twice the amount recommended for women and one-third above the men’s guideline).
Wondering How to Cut Out Sugar?
An informed approach is the best start. The first step to choosing low-sugar foods is to know what is in the items at the market or deli.
1) Read the labels
Remember, processed and packaged foods are common culprits of sugar; that’s why we urge individuals or your Plan members to read the Nutrition Facts label for added sugars or check the ingredient list for any added sugars.
2) Know the names
Added sugars appear under many different names—and it’s essential to know these for consumers who are reducing sugar intake due to a health condition (or to avoid one). While honey, molasses, and corn sweetener may be somewhat obvious, advise your members to also look for:
- sugar, nectar or syrup
- cane juice
- evaporated cane juice or crystals
- fruit juice or fruit juice concentrates
- panela (raspadora)
- sugar molecules ending in “ose”
- sweet sorghum
What Happens When You Cut Out Sugar?
As you share ways to cut added dietary sugars, remind your members that overindulgence in caloric sweeteners, even for a short time, can set up a diet for failure. That’s because the more sugar someone consumes, the more their body will crave it. When they cut out sugar, they break the sugar consumption cycle.
Therefore, people will start craving it less over time by simply reducing added sugar in their diet. One easy method for reducing sugar intake is to reduce how much one typically adds to cereal, coffee, or tea.
How to Stop Eating Sugar
Here are other tips to share with people in your care to help them cut back on added sugars and rein in sugar cravings:
- Eat well-balanced meals every day to avoid snacking on sweets.
- Monitor and set a proper daily sugar quota and where it matters most to you. For example, people who prefer desserts may consume added sugar from cookies rather than foods with hidden sugar, like fruit yogurts, sweetened condiments, or sugary cereals.
- Don’t keep sugary foods in the pantry; remove sweeteners from the table to avoid temptation.
- If artificial sweeteners are being used, do so in moderation.
- Moderate dessert intake (keep portions small and only once a day), or choose fresh fruit instead.
- Avoid buying canned fruit that is packed in heavy syrup. Fruits canned in water or natural juice are better.
- Fruit also makes a delicious, natural way to sweeten cereals and plain yogurt.
- Drink water—the best source of healthy hydration—or choose sugar-free or low-calorie beverages.
- Try cutting the sugar by one-third to one-half of the original recipe when baking and cooking at home. Or, in place of adding sugar, use unsweetened applesauce or ripe mashed bananas, extracts (such as almond, vanilla, orange, or lemon), or spices (ginger, allspice, cinnamon, or nutmeg).
Nutritionally Balanced Meals to Help Manage Added Sugar Intake
Those with chronic health conditions, such as diabetes or heart disease, may find it easier to avoid added sugars by eating nutrient-dense, low-sugar, ready-to-heat meals designed by dietitians. LiveWell with Traditions’ meal program delivers meals directly to the homes of post-discharge or chronically ill individuals. These meals assist members in reducing sugar consumption and provide a satisfying dining experience that will help with portion control.Explore our specialty diet plans and menus to discover how LiveWell with Traditions’ meals can help break the sugar cycle with good nutrition in every bite.