You don’t have to sacrifice flavor (or the foods you love) to reduce added sugar, according to Jennifer Tyler Lee of 52 New Foods. Staying within your daily limit of added sugars is easier if you follow these 7 simple steps.
1. Know Your Target
Women can eat up to 6 teaspoons (24 grams) of sugar daily. For men, it’s 9 teaspoons (36g). And for kids, less than 3 to 6 teaspoons (12g to 24g) is recommended.
2. Cook More
The easiest way to reduce added sugar from our favorite foods is to cook at home when you can. Most fast foods and processed foods contain added sugar—often when you don’t expect it. Cooking helps you regain control over what you eat.
3. Sweeten Naturally
Ripe, in-season fruits and vegetables can sweeten your favorite recipes with less (or no) added sugar. Whole fruits and vegetables contain natural sugar and fiber that allows for healthier processing of sugar by your body.
4. Spice it Up
Spices, like cinnamon, cardamom, and vanilla, help boost flavor without added sugar. Use them liberally.
5. Drink More Water
Drink water instead of sugar sweetened beverages. Add fruit—like lemons, limes, and oranges—to infuse water with flavor and make it fun. Save juice and soda for special occasions—once a week.
6. Shop Smart
When purchasing packaged foods, always read the food label. Remember that there are 4 grams in 1 teaspoon of sugar. Limit added sugars to 10% of total calories. Learn to spot hidden sugar culprits. Always avoid sugar substitutes. Choose unsweetened products when possible. A simple rule: if you want a treat, cook it at home.
7. Be Flexible
If you exceed your daily added sugar limit, it’s ok. Just try to reduce added sugar intake during other days of the week to get back in balance and stay below the recommended added sugar targets for the rest of the week.
Did you know that all sugars are sugars? There is a misperception that less-refined sweeteners, like honey and agave, are better for you than more refined sweeteners, like table sugar. Although honey has some health benefits—it has vitamins, minerals, and antioxidant properties and can help ease sore throats—it still counts toward your daily added sugar total.