Kicking the Sugar Habit
Most of us -- despite being around our kitchens more due to this COVID-19 seclusion -- are all about trying to break the sugar habit. It's not that sugar is banned from a healthy diet; it's just that it's easy to overdo sugar consumption.
One of the problems is that sugar wears many disguises on a food label. It can be called honey, coconut sugar, brown sugar, corn syrup, agave, brown rice syrup or maple syrup. Sugar is added to 68% of packaged foods and drinks in the U.S. Being mindful of products that contain sugar -- and how that sugar is labeled -- is a way to begin reducing your sugar.
Sugar can be in plant-based milks, nut butters, bacon, ketchup and even chicken stock. Naturally occurring sugars in fruit, veggies and even milk typically don't need to be on your worry list, as they come bundled with nutrients, fiber, vitamins and antioxidants.
It's the added sugars that are a problem. The U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends limiting added sugars to 10% of your daily calories. For a 1,600-calorie diet, that means no more than 160 calories, or 10 teaspoons from added sugars per day. The American Heart Association recommends even less -- 100 calories from added sugar, or 6 teaspoons a day.
How to break the sugar habit?
-- Read ingredient lists, and choose low-sugar options.
-- Reduce your stress. I know it's hard in times like these, but a workout, walk, hobby or other diversion will be much more helpful than a sugary snack.
-- Get enough sleep. We make much better -- and healthier -- choices when we're properly rested.
-- Reduce sugar in baked goods by adding overripe bananas, applesauce or dates instead of sugar.
-- Rather than cutting the acid in a tomato sauce with sugar, try adding grated carrots, butternut squash or sweet potatoes.