Sugar lurks in foods that you wouldn’t expect it to be in. It is present in everything from salad dressings to breads to dairy products. Excess sugar consumption contributes to illness and disease, zaps us of our energy and interferes with our digestion and nutrient assimilation. Reducing our intake means improving our health. This is difficult to do when sugar is commonly found in many of our everyday food items. How can you lower your daily sugar intake?
First, be conscious of the products you purchase. Read the labels, including the ingredient lists and seek out sugar in all its forms. Be aware that fructose and sucrose are also names for sugar. Then incorporate these five simple ways to trim the sugar in your meals today.
1. Bake your own baked goods and cut the amount of sugar the recipe calls for.
Breads, muffins, and cookies you make yourself are a better choice than their store-bought counterparts. Baking these foods means the sugar content is within your control. Start by using only half of the sugar the recipe calls for. Most often this amendment makes little difference to the final product. You’ll see that you won’t miss the high amount of sugar routinely recommended and your baked good will be plenty sweet enough.
I often reduce the amount of sugar in recipes and find that it always turns out. If you are nervous about this, start by cutting very large amounts commonly found in recipes first. So if your recipe calls for more than one cup of sugar, cut the amount in half and see if you really find it to be lacking in sweetness or texture. Part of eating sugar-free is gradually adjusting your palette, so that food with a touch of sweetness is just as enjoyable as food that is overly sweet. There are many alternative sweeteners that can be used and they are worth experimenting with. While stevia isn't your best choice for baking, blackstrap molasses often is.
2. Drink freshly squeezed juice instead of packaged juice.
Packaged and processed juices are very high in added sugar. Many do not contain any natural fruits and are often laden with colors and chemical additives. Why not make your own? Electric juicers are commonly available at stores such as Target and JCPenney and online at www.cooking.com and an effective juicer can be found for less than $99.00. A freshly squeezed juice does not contain white sugar and provides you with all the vitamins and minerals of the fruits and vegetables you juice. It also offers the added bonus of arming your immune system with antioxidant power to keep you healthy all year round.
The best juice you can prepare for yourself will include fruits and vegetables. Try making a Green Goddess Juice once and you’ll never be able to drink packaged juice again. Choose juicing ingredients that are colorful,fresh and organic when possible. Clean them thoroughly and drink the juice as soon as possible.
3. Use lettuce and greens for wrapped sandwiches.
Commercial breads and wraps contain high levels of sugar and sodium. Most are made using white wheat flour that is low in fiber. As a result, it metabolizes quickly, leading to a rapid rise in blood sugar levels. Limiting the amount of white flour products in your diet results in lessening the sugar in your diet.
This doesn’t mean you’ll never enjoy another sandwich. Instead, try wrapping your sandwich contents in a leaf. Lettuces such as Boston or Red Leaf serve as excellent sandwich wraps. Collard greens are also terrific for a falafel sandwich or contents equally as hardy. These will provide a fresh flavor to an otherwise boring white bread sandwich.
4. Experiment with yogurt alternatives.
Many yogurts and other dairy products contain high levels of sugar, especially those that are flavored. A plain full fat yogurt contains less sugar. Read the ingredient list on the yogurt package before you buy it, to be sure no sugar has been added. Experiment with non-dairy yogurts, plain Greek yogurt or kefir instead of packaged high sugar yogurt. If you find you’re missing the fruity flavor of your regular yogurt then add fresh berries or sliced fresh fruit on top.
To be completely certain of what's in your yogurt, you could consider making your own.
5. Incorporate more raw foods into your meals.
Raw foods are wonderfully transparent. They don’t come with labels and are free of added ingredients. Where processed foods have refined sugar, raw vegetables and fruits have nutrients, texture, crunch and a natural sweetness all their own. Although some fruits are higher in natural sugar, the fiber and protein that whole fruit contains slows its digestion. Because of this, insulin spikes are avoided. Incorporating a few raw foods into your diet will help to curb your white sugar cravings and jazz up the flavor profile of your meals instantly.
Adding more raw foods may mean reaching for an apple instead of a cupcake or it may mean a side salad made with cabbage and beets. Learn more about raw foods and how to prepare raw recipes that would suit your taste.
Try this Marinated Fennel Salad that is fresh and flavorful and just happens to be raw.