With holiday parties brimming with trays of cookies, office tables laden with dishes of chocolates, and candy canes beckoning amid the decorations, it’s easy to get bombarded with sugary sweets at every turn. Now’s actually a good time take stock of your sugar intake and figure creative ways to cut back. After all, sugar tastes delightful but has zero nutrient value. What’s worse, too much of it in any form can contribute to obesity, which in turn is linked to heart disease, diabetes and many other chronic health issues. Whether you’re reaching for a beverage at the party, a cup of yogurt for a snack, or throwing yourself into baking holiday goodies, start following these suggestions for satisfying your sweet tooth more sensibly.
Remember the recommended sugar limits. For women it’s 6 teaspoons or 25 grams a day , maximum; for men it’s no more than 9 teaspoons or 36 grams per day.
Read labels and know sugar’s aliases. Ingredients ending in “ose” like sucrose, dextrose, fructose, glucose, lactose and maltose indicate sugar. Other names include: corn syrup, cane sugar, molasses, nectar and fruit juice concentrate. Remember that honey, maple syrup, and coconut sugar are also forms of sugar.
Understand what “sugar free” means. The term indicates a food has less than 0.5 grams of sugar per serving. “Reduced sugar” foods must have at least 25 percent less sugar per serving than their traditional counterpart.
Watch for added sugars. Some canned fruits, packaged breads, pre-made sauces, fruit-flavored yogurts, and even cereals and flavored oatmeal often contain added sugars.
Try spices to flavor tea, coffee, cereal and yogurt. Sprinkle in some cinnamon, vanilla, cardamom or nutmeg—the nutty taste of nutmeg is also great on fruit, pancakes, French toast, or scrambled eggs!
Add fruit in place of refined sugar for baked goods. Applesauce, blueberries, strawberries, banana and pineapple can add sweetness to baked goods. If you opt for fruit, you may have to add more flour or reduce the amount of liquids in the recipe to prevent your batter from being too thin. Zest from the peel of lemons, limes or oranges can enhance flavors and can be tossed in a low-sugar batter.
Reach for sparkling water laced with a few frozen berries. It may be the sweet spark you’re looking for.
Reexamine your dessert habit. If you eat dessert daily, limit yourself to enjoying it only on a specific day, weekends, or special occasions. This can greatly reduce your sugar intake.
Have questions about staying healthy?
- If you’re a member with our Advocacy services and have questions about developing a healthier lifestyle, contact us to speak with a Personal Health Advocate. The Personal Health Advocate can help you identify resources for help.
- If you’re a Health Advocate member with access to our EAP+Work/Life Program, call us to talk to a Work/Life Specialist who can help you find the right resources.