Although sugar has become a mainstay in our daily diet, sugar is not your friend. There are plenty of reasons to avoid sugar. According to holistic nutritionist Nancy Desjardins, sugar can upset your body’s mineral balance, suppress the immune system, as well as cause hyperactivity, anxiety, concentration difficulties, obesity, speed the aging process and possibly cause arthritis.
In addition, ingesting large amounts of sugar causes a rush of energy and then a “crash”, resulting in a desire for more sugar and/or caffeine to fix the problem. There are even more negative effects from sugar but we’ll stop there. Instead, let’s look at ways of decreasing the amount of sugar in your diet and increasing your chance for a healthier lifestyle as you grow older.
1. Get rid of the soda, or at the very least, decrease it. Water is your best choice, but if that doesn’t suit you then try flavored water or water with vitamins. Always check the amount of sugar on the bottle labels to make sure they’re not packed with sugar.
2. Try Stevia, a natural alternative. Stevia is a sweetener from a plant source and is a great way to add sweet to your life. Keep in mind that it is more concentrated than table sugar so you won’t need to use as much.
3. Go for cereals that are not pre-sweetened. I know kids aren’t the only ones who like Frosted Flakes, adults do too, but compare those sugar grams with the box of plain Cheerios.
4. Choose fruit over candy. Apples, oranges, and grapes are all naturally sweet. Bananas are often considered a bridge to help you get from the sugar side over to the fruit side in the land of sweet. Add blueberries, strawberries, or banana slices to your bowl of plain Cheerios.
5. Eat whole foods rather than packaged foods. Many packaged items have hidden sugar in the form of high fructose corn syrup, even items that you wouldn’t think of, such as some types of crackers, spaghetti sauces, and pizza. A dinner consisting of a grilled chicken breast, brown rice, and fresh green beans is a healthy alternative to any meal that comes in a box.
6. Pick foods that have natural sugar without additional sugar added. For example, eat old fashioned oatmeal rather than packaged oatmeal that comes with brown sugar, or try unsweetened applesauce instead of applesauce with high fructose corn syrup added. Arm yourself with information by reading the labels.
Reducing your sugar intake doesn’t happen overnight. Start with this list and work on the ones that are the easiest for you to do. You can work your way up from there. Keep in mind that this is not an all or nothing challenge. Even the smallest changes can help you improve your health.