Americans consume about one hundred and fifty-six pounds of added sugar each year according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. This would equal out to about 31 five-pound bags for each of us. Added sugar is one of the single worst ingredients in diets today. It can negatively affect your metabolism and contribute to all sorts of diseases. If you are suffering from arthritis, too much sugar can lead to increased inflammation in your arthritic joints, intensifying the pain. Excessive sugar also typically leads to an increase in calories, causing significant weight gain and extra stress on weight-bearing joints. Although it would be best to eliminate all sugar from your diet, it is highly difficult to do so because of its ubiquity in everyday foods and the addictive cravings it triggers in the brain. Because sugar can be so hard to eliminate from your diet, try making small changes to reduce your sugar intake and feel a big difference over time. Here are a few quick tips on reducing sugar in your diet and maintaining a healthy lifestyle:
Be Smart About Breakfast: Many breakfast cereals are high in sugar, with some containing up to 37% in sugar. Try switching to lower sugar cereals or those with no added sugar (plain porridge or whole wheat cereal biscuits). Swapping a bowl of sugary breakfast cereal for plain cereal could cut out 70g of sugar (up to 22 sugar cubes) from your diet over a week.
Snacks: Healthier snack options are those without artificial sugar such as fruit, unsalted nuts, unsalted rice cakes, oatcakes or homemade plain popcorn.
Eat Sweet Vegetables: Sweet potatoes and beets are a great alternative to refined sugar and can help starve your cravings.
Eat Less Salt: Your body automatically craves sugar when you eat a lot of salt so it is important to monitor your sodium intake. Tip: A normal diet should have around 2,300 MG of sodium or less per day. To put that into perspective, 2 slices of multi grain bread contain about 200 mg of sodium.
Get more exercise: Working out helps take your mind off those sweets and helps balance out your body. By sweating out salt, it also reduces the sugar cravings.
Leave processed foods at the store: They tend to be loaded with secret sugars. (Check out that nutrition label on your Greek yogurt!). Aim for fresh foods!