The 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines recommends reducing sugar intake to 6% of your daily calorie intake, a significant decrease from 10% recommended in the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines. What does that mean?
If you eat around 2000 calorie per day, this would reduce the recommended sugar intake from 50 grams of added sugars (200 calories) to only 30 grams per day (120 calories).
What does 30 grams of sugar mean? There are many ways to consume thirty grams of sugar! ~ 8 ounces of some sodas or juices contain 30 grams already!
While there are many ways to consume sugar, there are more reasons why limiting added sugars is important for your health.
Added sugars can lead to weight gain as well as increase the risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and fatty liver, and increase your risk of death from those conditions.
Sugar intake is also linked with cognitive decline and even some cancers!
Lastly, when you're consuming a lot of added sugars, you are displacing more nutritious foods in your diet! It's hard to meet your vitamin and mineral needs when you're consuming a lot of added sugars.
There are many ways to reduce your added sugar intake!
Nearly 70% of added sugars come from sweetened beverages (soda, juice, coffee or tea), desserts, sweet snacks, candy, and breakfast cereals or bars.
Here are easy ways to upgrade your food choices:
1. Replace sodas or juices with flavored seltzer or water with a splash of lemon/fruit pieces
2. Reduce the level of sugar in your coffee or tea slowly to give your taste buds time to adjust.
If you are starting with 3 spoonfuls, taper it down slowly - 2.5 spoons for a few weeks, 2 spoons for a couple of weeks, down to 1 spoonful. If you are cutting down sugar in your whole day, you will become more sensitive to the taste and eventually find that if you return to 3 spoons, it's way TOO sweet!
3. At snack time, replace a dessert or processed cereal bar with a whole piece of fruit or whole-grain crackers with nut butter or hummus. Or make your own mix of nuts and seeds to add to your fruit for a more complete snack.
4. Read the nutrition label to compare which condiments, nut butters, or other packaged foods contain more sugar.
For example, flavored yogurts have tons of added sugar! Use plain yogurt and add sweetness with fresh fruits like berries or chopped apples.
5. When you normally would turn to a sweet pick-me-up, go for a brief walk, stretch, or just get outside to enjoy a little sunshine. When we're tired, we often crave sweets, but sometimes a bit of movement will boost your energy much more!
6. Don't forget cocktails, beers, or wine - alcohol turns into sugar and those mixed drinks usually have a lot of juice, soda or syrups added for sweetness.
Stay sweet naturally, fellow Lupus Warriors! Enjoy fruits, add a touch of honey to a plain yogurt, try cinnamon in place of sugar in your tea or coffee for a naturally sweet sensation.