Sugar Swaps – Easy Ways to Improve Your Carb Count
Last updated: June 2023
The average American man consumes around 335 calories from added sugars while women consume around 239 calories. That’s an alarming 15 to 21 teaspoons of sugar a day. New recommendations advise around 5% of daily caloric intake from sugar, or about 6 teaspoons of sugar, 25 grams, for a 2000- calorie diet.
Added sugars that end up in our foods like ketchup, soda, fruit drinks, candy, or baked goods are the major sources of sugar in the diet that the World Health Organization is trying to discourage people from consuming. Try some of these food swaps to decrease the amount of sugar you have in your diet, and you will not even miss it!
Drinks like soda, fruit punch, and other flavored drinks are a major source of added sugars in the diet. One 12-ounce can of cola can have 40 g, which is about 10 teaspoons! New research is showing that drinking diet soda may actually increase sugar cravings making you consume it in other forms, avoiding diet soda may help to decrease sugar intake throughout the day. The best choice for beverages is water, if you drink juice, try to cut it with half water and half juice and make sure that it’s 100% fruit juice. If you miss the carbonation, try seltzer water with juice to get that fizzy feeling. Add cucumber, lemon or lime slices to water to add flavor. Also try brewing up a variety of herbal teas and keep a pitcher in the fridge to drink through the day.
Cereal is a quick and easy breakfast that is a staple in many households. Choose a cereal with less than 6 grams of sugar per serving with at least 3 grams of fiber. Some cereals have up to 20 g of sugar in a 1-cup serving, many people do not measure out servings of cereal so they are probably consuming even more.
Certain condiments can be surprising sources of added sugars. For just one tablespoon: ketchup has 3g of sugar, jam or jellies have 10 g, store bought salad dressings have 5-10 g of sugar, for a half cup, marinara sauce can have 7 g of sugar. Again, these serving sizes may not be what is actually consumed, many people have much more than what is listed on nutrition facts labels. Instead of ketchup try using salsa, sliced tomatoes, or sun dried tomato hummus. Cut your ketchup with low sodium canned tomato sauce. Replace jams and jellies with all fruit spreads, or use fresh fruit. Make simple vinaigrettes at home by combining olive oil, spices, dried mustard and your choice of vinegar. Try sautéing fresh tomatoes, onion, garlic, basil in olive oil and adding it to pasta for a spin on marinara sauce.
Granola, protein, or cereal bars
Store bought granola, protein, or cereal bars can also be loaded with sugar. As much as 19 g of sugar can be found in these snacks. Try to look for reduced sugar versions, or make your own at home. Flavored instant oatmeal can be another sugar bomb, try plain instant oatmeal with cinnamon, nutmeg, nuts and fruit on top to control the amount of sugar you are eating. To add more flavor to your oatmeal try cooking with coconut milk. Eating oatmeal a few times a week will add a lot of fiber to your overall diet.
Sugar is hidden in many foods, and most Americans don’t realize just how much they’re eating. Start with the simple step of swapping sweets out for fruits, cutting out sugar-sweetened beverages, and keeping desserts to special occasions. Take steps to read nutrition labels, serving sizes and ingredients when purchasing foods. When you buy store bought items, look for versions that have lower amounts of sugar for the same serving sizes.
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