How to Cut Down on Sugar (as Painlessly as Possible)

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Sugar. It’s in everything. Candy and other sweet treats, obviously, but also in EVERYTHING. Almost. There are a few sugar-free foods and drinks left in the world. However, because it’s nearly omnipresent, it can be hard to avoid and thus, hard to cut out. Luckily, there are some easy ways to minimize your sugar consumption.

First of all, you should know much sugar you should be eating. According to the American Heart Association, that’s no more than 6 teaspoons a day for women and no more than 9 for me. Next, you may know all the usual places to find sugar, but once you get serious about your diet, you really have to start reading labels. Sugar is added to many foods that you may have never even thought of.

For example, take low fat foods (and then throw them away). When low fat became a fad, a lot of people thought they could eat more of certain treats because they were low fat. The truth is, of course, that fat adds flavor. To compensate for that missing flavor, many food manufacturers added sugar.

So if you’re trying to cut down on your sugar, don’t reach first for low fat foods. All fat is not bad for you. You need fat. The trick is in choosing good fats, like the kind found in salmon or avocados. If you want a certain food and can’t decide between the full fat and the low fat, just get the full fat and eat it in moderation.

Moving on, it’s not just low fat fare that contains hidden sugar. The average bread or tomato sauce you buy at the grocery store also has sugar and likely way more than you think. That’s where reading labels comes in again. You can find products with lower (or no) sugar added at most grocery stores.

That doesn’t mean you can’t have your favorite sugary foods. But again, eat them in moderation and don’t eat them for days on end.

It also doesn’t mean that you have to go cold turkey. Sure, you can, but it’s hard, especially if you’re a sugar addict. Cut sugar from your diet by cutting it down slowly. Start eating less sugar on a weekly basis. Start by choosing lower sugar options for your favorites. If you like to eat yogurt, for example, try Icelandic-style skyr. In addition, try adding more fruit into your diet. Not all fruits are created equal, though. Berries are a great option.

You just need to give your body time to get used to less sugar. Make sure you get enough protein and fat, so you’re not ravenous and tempted to opt for easy prey. On that note, be sure to keep healthy snacks on hand, like nuts or veggie sticks, so you have a quick fix when you’re starving.

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Salome is a freelance writer who frequently writes about health issues, as well as pop culture.