(RxWiki News) There's nothing sweet about the health effects of having too much sugar in your diet. Fortunately, you can take steps to reduce your sugar intake.
Consuming too much added sugar has been tied to a wide range of negative health effects, including type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and obesity.
While most fruits and vegetables have some naturally occurring sugars in them, the real problem stems from added sugar. That's the sugar added to processed foods like candies, pastries and sodas.
Having some sugar in your diet is usually perfectly fine, but an enormous number of people consume too much.
If you feel that you're one of those people, reach out to your health care provider for advice, and consider these five tips for reducing your sugar intake.
1. Cut It in Half
Sometimes, if you try to implement a new healthy habit too abruptly, it can backfire. For example, if you would like to consume less sugar, you may be tempted to simply stop adding sugar to any food or drink you consume. But that may leave you feeling overly deprived, which can translate to a failure in a few days or weeks.
Instead, take it slow. Start by cutting the amount of sugar you add to things in half. Get used to that for a week or two, and then cut back a little bit more. Taking it slow can make the transition to less sugar much easier. And before you know it, you may not need to add any sugar at all.
2. Skip the Soda
Soda is one of the worst offenders when it comes to added sugars. That means it's one of the first places to start if you're trying to reduce your sugar intake.
If you generally have a few sodas per day, try having just one. Then, work down to no sodas except on special occasions.
When you're craving an extra soda, try sparkling flavored water or diet soda. That way, you get the carbonation and flavor without all the sugar.
3. Opt for Fruit Instead
In oatmeal, other cereals and some desserts, you may be able to replace added sugar with fruit. While fruit has its own sugar, it comes with vitamins and fiber, making it overall healthier to consume.
For example, add blueberries to oatmeal instead of that spoonful of sugar. Or, if you're baking, try adding unsweetened apple sauce instead of some of the sugar the recipe calls for.
4. Be a Label Reader
Sometimes, we actually don't realize we're consuming as much sugar as we are. That's because we're not checking the labels on certain foods we're eating. So, if you want to control the amount of sugar you're consuming, become a label reader.
In other words, don't eat any packaged food without first reading the label. Look for the "sugars" section and ask yourself whether you're comfortable with the amount of sugar that has been added to the food.
5. Sleep Well
Sleep is essential to good health, but the amount of sleep you get may also influence the foods you crave during your waking hours. Some research has found that poor sleep may make you more likely to eat sugary and unhealthy foods during the day instead of healthy fruits and vegetables.
That means that prioritizing your sleep may make it easier to stick to your new goal of consuming less sugar.
Talk to your health care provider before making any major change to your diet.