Many people struggle when it comes to how to cut back on sugar and even understanding why sugar is bad for you.
Grasping why sugar is bad for you and learning how to cut back on sugar can have a tremendous impact on your health now and in the future.
So, stick with me because we are going to go through everything you need to know about sugar.
And I am going to give you some great tips that will help you cut back on sugar.
Why Is Sugar Bad For You
Knowing why sugar is bad for you is the first step towards kicking your sugary habits. If you can’t see the impact it has on your body, you can’t fully appreciate why you need to cut back on sugar.
You might be surprised at just how many cons there are to having too much sugar.
So, take your time and read through these because it might be what turns your, “I’ll start tomorrow,” into “I’m starting today”.
Weight Gain and Obesity
This reason as to why sugar is bad for you should not come as a surprise. Most people know that excess sugar can lead to weight gain.
But it has also been linked to obesity. So many foods have extra added sugar that this has become a real problem.
If you are looking at shedding some pounds, cutting back on your sugar intake can have a huge effect.
As you may know, food has a significant influence on your mood.
Studies have shown that those who have a diet high in sugar have a greater risk of depression and other mood disorders.
The body does not do well when there is a quick shift in blood sugar levels, putting you in a bad mood.
If you are looking to improve your mood, this might be a reason that makes you learn how to cut back on sugar.
Sugar is Calorie Rich and Nutrient Poor
Sugar contains simple carbs that contain no essential nutrients, such as fiber or vitamins.
The only thing sugar adds to your food or drink is some sweetness and extra calories.
This is also a well-know reason why sugar is bad for you.
Sugar has been linked to the development of type 2 diabetes. This is caused by the effect sugar has on your liver as well as the gained weight from it.
It is important to watch your sugar intake because you can become pre-diabetic, which can then progress into type 2 diabetes.
If caught early, you can prevent it from becoming type 2 diabetes.
Sugar Is Addictive
Your brain releases a hormone called dopamine when you eat. This hormone makes you feel happy.
When you have sugar, your dopamine levels spike. The more you eat, the more you need in order to satisfy that craving.
It is like any other addiction.
This is extremely important to keep in mind if you have children.
It can be very hard to break a child of their sugar addiction and it sets them up for poor health and poor food/drink choices in the future.
Increased Risk of Heart Disease
Yet another health risk that should help you understand why sugar is bad for you and hopefully pushes you to keep in mind how to cut back on sugar.
Consuming too much added sugar can cause high blood sugar and chronic inflammation.
This puts a lot of stress on your heart and can lead to heart disease.
Sugar Can Lead To Inflammation
I just mentioned that sugar a cause inflammation so let’s discuss how that happens.
Eating too much sugar produces a substance in your blood called AGEs (Advanced Glycation End Products).
This is a pro-oxidant (the opposite of antioxidant) chemical that causes inflammation.
If left unchecked, chronic inflammation, like we just discussed, can cause heart disease and diabetes.
Higher Risk Of Cancer
If you’re not careful it seems like everything these days is linked to cancer.
Research has shown that obesity raises your risk of getting cancer. As we have already talked about, sugar causes obesity.
On top of that, we also discussed how sugar can increase inflammation and cause insulin resistance, which also puts you at a higher risk for cancer.
Fatty Liver Disease
This is the last disease we will talk about to get you to think about why is sugar bad for you.
Fructose is a type of sugar that is especially bad for your liver. It is used as an added sugar and can be found in many processed foods.
When you eat too much, it is converted into fat that is stored in the liver. This can lead to fatty liver disease.
Linked to Acne
No one likes when they get a pimple or have blemishes on their skin. Sugar has been linked to breakouts and acne.
If you are someone that is prone to acne, you might want to take a step back and see how much sugar you are consuming.
It might be that you just need to learn how to cut back on sugar to clear up your skin.
Ages Skin Faster
Speaking of skin, did you know that sugar can actually ager your skin faster?
Sugary food have been linked to an increased production of AGEs (Advanced Glycation End Products).
AGEs can accelerate the aging of skin and the formation of wrinkles. Keep that in mind the next time you grab that candy bar or pop that soda top.
Sugar Can Make You Hangry
Hanger is a real thing. I know I get hangry when I don’t eat for a long time. My husband also knows this because it isn’t pretty when I get hangry.
Sugar can also cause you to become hangry because it causes your blood sugar levels to spike. It gives you a nice short burst of energy before you crash.
And remember there is not nutritional value in added sugar, like fiber that keeps you feeling full, so you end up feeling hangry.
For the safety of your loved ones, this is a great reason to learn how to cut back on sugar.
Bad For Your Teeth
We all know too much sugar is bad for our teeth, but do you know why?
Your mouth is full of bacteria that that turn the sugar you eat into acid. This is what forms cavities.
If you are someone who loves sticky candies, like caramel, this can make it even worse because the sugar sticks to your teeth.
I don’t know about you but I hate feeling tired or drained when I am trying to power through my day.
Too much added sugar actually decreases your energy. You might get a short burst of energy, but some you will come crashing down.
It also doesn’t fill you up, so your body doesn’t have what it needs to burn for energy.
Take a moment and think about your energy level as well as how much sugar you eat. Is it possible that is what’s keeping you down?
Sugar Messes With Your Metabolism
This is the last reason why sugar is bad for you. It also messes with your metabolism. Having too much sugar makes it hard for your body to keep your blood sugar levels in a healthy range.
If your body is constantly struggling, you can be at risk of developing a metabolic syndrome, which can lead to diabetes and heart disease.
As you can see a lot of these reasons to learn how to cut back on sugar intertwine, so cutting back can save you from a lot of issues.
How Much Sugar Should You Have
According to the American Heart Association, women should be limiting their added sugar to 6 teaspoons (25g) a day, and men should be limited to 9 teaspoons (36g).
On average, American adults consume 77g of sugar each day.
To put this into perspective a little better, I will give you some example of just how much that is in a moment.
What Is Natural Sugar
Natural sugar is just what it sounds like. It is sugar that is naturally occurring.
It is found in foods such as fresh fruits, vegetables, unsweetened milk and yogurt.
These foods contain fiber and protein, and these nutrients help slow down the release of glucose (sugar) in your blood, keeping you feeling fuller for longer.
What Is Added Sugar
Added sugars are just what you think.
Sugars like, fructose, sucrose, honey, and syrups that are added to foods and drinks.
They contain no nutrients and are typically loaded with calories.
They can also spike your blood glucose levels and don’t give you that feeling of being fuller for longer.
Where Is Added Sugar Found Most
There are 4 categories of foods and drinks that have the most added sugars. They are sweet drinks, sugary breakfast foods, desserts, and sugary snacks.
Take a moment to read through this so you can see which foods and drinks you fall prey to.
This is going to help you see where you can cut back and get on the right track.
This includes drink like soda, energy drinks, sports drinks, and fruit juices.
You can easily go over your recommended amount of added sugar by consuming any of these drinks.
For example, a single can of soda has 8 teaspoons of added sugar.
And don’t let the label telling you it is 100% fruit juice fool you. It still falls under this category because it lacks nutrients and fiber.
Other culprits that many fall prey to are coffee drinks, sweet teas, flavored vitamin water, and coconut waters.
Just because it is it is advertised as a healthier option doesn’t mean you should believe it without checking the label.
Not sure how to read a nutrition label? Check out this post to learn all you need to know!
I had fell prey to coffee drinks when I worked 2nd shift as a correctional officer and felt I needed the caffeine, but hated black coffee.
I would have coffee with milk and sugar, cappuccino from the gas station, and even some Starbucks Frappuccinos on occasion.
The problem was I was having one of these drinks every day. It started to become a habit before I realized how much sugar I was actually having. I used a lot of the tips I’m going to share with you to learn how to cut back on sugar. And today I drink my coffee with just a splash of milk.
Cut back or cut out these drink and you can make a HUGE impact on your health.
I can tell you from experience it made a big impact on mine, like having more energy and sleeping better.
Sugary Breakfast Foods
We all know that cereals, toaster tarts, waffles, or muffins from the coffee shop are quick and easy options. But they are full of added sugar.
You want to start your day off on the right foot, so what you eat sets the tone for your whole day. Starting it with a sugar packed food is only going to make you crash shortly into your day.
To give you a better idea of just how much sugar is in these foods, here are a few examples.
1 cup of low-fat fruit flavored yogurt has 8 teaspoons of sugar, a medium chocolate chip muffin has 8.5 teaspoons, and 2 cups of that sugary cereal you love contains about 6 teaspoons of added sugar.
Who doesn’t love dessert? I am a sucker for dessert but I really try to keep it to a minimum because I know how much added sugar is in them.
Cake, ice cream, pie, and cookies are all tasty treats, but they should really be treated as such.
You should only consume these on occasion because they are also packed with added sugars.
A typically piece of cake with frosting can contain over 12 teaspoons of added sugar.
That’s twice the daily recommended amount!
Or maybe you are someone that has a nice bowl of ice cream each night. Just 1 cup of ice cream contains about 6.5 teaspoons of added sugar.
Sweets like candy and chocolate can be the downfall for many. These snacks contain little to no nutritional value for your body.
A regular milk chocolate candy bar contains about 6 teaspoons for added sugar and 17 gummies contain about 5.25 teaspoons.
When you think about these snacks, you really are just having one and hit your added sugar limit for the day.
Just on that one snack!
You have to ask yourself, how much more added sugar are you having each day?
Tips to Reduce Your Sugar Intake
Now on to the section you have been waiting for. Now that you truly appreciate why sugar is bad for you, the affects too much can have on your body, and the difference between natural and added sugars, we can talk about how you can learn to cut back on sugar.
As I stated earlier, I have used some of these myself to help cut down on sugar. They really do work, you just have to be willing to put a little effort in.
1. Don’t Go Cold Turkey
A problem a lot of people make is that they try to cut out all sugar at once. It is a great thought but really impractical for most.
This is one of the best how to cut back on sugar tips I can give.
Start by reducing your sugar over time. This will make it more likely that it will stick and is easier to do than cutting it out all together.
And keep in mind that even a small change can have a huge impact.
For example you soda drinkers, if you cut out 1 can of soda a day you can reduce your calorie intake on average by 56,000. That means you could lose up to 16 pounds in a year and cut out around 14,000g of sugar!
2. Add Ice First
There are many sugar filled beverages that we love. I enjoy having a soda or an iced coffee on occasion.
If that sounds like you, this how to cut back on sugar tip is for you.
Fill your cup full of ice before you add your drink. This will help cut down on the amount of a sugary beverage you have. And try to keep it to just one glass.
3. Make Your Water Less Boring
Water is really what you should be drinking. It hydrated the body on top of being sugar and calorie free.
Unfortunate many people do not like water. They think it is too plain.
Add some fruit, like lemon (my favorite), strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, or oranges to your water. This gives it that natural sweetness and flavor without the added sugar.
But you don’t have to stop at the fruit. You can do vegetable water with cucumbers, celery, or carrots.
And even use herbs and spices, like cinnamon, vanilla, rosemary, or mint, to shake things up.
Here is a great water bottle that is perfect for making your own flavored water. And it makes clean up a breeze because you put the fruit in a basket inside the water bottle. Plus, this has an insulated sleeve to keep it nice and cold and comes with a recipe book to help you find the right combo for you!
4. Smaller Portions
Whether it is a drink or a food, cut your portion size down. Opt for a smaller glass or pick the smallest piece.
If my husband and I get a dessert, we all share a piece to help us cut down on our portion size. And it is always a satisfying serving.
This is going to help reduce the amount of added sugar and cut your calories all at once.
For example, trading your 20 fl oz bottle of soda for a can can save you around 150 calories and about 40 grams of sugar!
5. Sweeten It Yourself
This applies mostly for drinks but it can be done with food as well.
For drinks you should start with an unsweetened version and add your own sweetener. Like unsweetened tea and add a little sugar or honey. Or making an iced coffee at home.
The goal is to add less than what would normally be contained in the drink and continue to ween yourself down from there.
You can also opt for slightly healthier sweetener options like Splenda or Stevia that don’t impact your blood sugar levels and are lower in calories.
You can also reduce the sugar in sweets you eat as well. For example, I like to make banana bread sometimes. I use about half the sugar that is recommended so there is a little sweetness but really reduces the amount we consume.
You can also replace sugar with an artificial sweetener like Splenda.
6. Switch To Diet Drinks
Now I will be honest, this is not a how to cut back on sugar tip that I have used. I have never had a huge soda drinking problem, so the other tips were sufficient to help reduce my sugar.
However, if you are a heavy soda drinker this one is for you.
Switching to diet will help reduce your calories and sugar.
Just keep in mind that this is just a tool to use to stop having so much. You will end up cutting down on and cutting out these drinks as well.
This tip might help get you to that point.
7. Dilute Your Drinks
This one is a must try tip to reduce sugar. This works great for sports drinks, fruit juices, and energy drinks.
Dilute your drink by adding some regular or sparkling water to it.
You will still get that sweetness with less sugar. These drink have so much added sugar to begin with that you might even prefer the taste of the lighter version.
8. Watch Out For “Health” Foods
Trying to cut back on your sugars can be tricky, so some people try to replace those with “healthy” options.
Be carefully with foods and drinks that are labeled as healthy because they are not always all that healthy.
You could think you are switching for something better, when in reality it isn’t all that much better.
There are a ton of people that switched to almond milk over regular milk because they thought it was a healthier option. Actually, it has more added sugar and less protein that regular milk, unless you get the unsweetened version.
The point is, make sure you are reading the label for all your foods and drinks so you know what they really contain.
9. Add Fruit
This is an easy tip to help reduce your sugar intake.
Fruits have natural sugars, so you shouldn’t go crazy with eating them, but they can give you that sugar you crave.
You can add it in salads, oatmeal, or even on grilled meat.
Try having a piece for a snack and see how easy it is to cut down on those added sugars.
Unsweetened applesauce is a great substitute for sugar in a lot of baked goods.
You might have to experiment to get a taste that suites you, but it allows you to enjoy those baked goods without all that unnecessary sugar.
And keep in mind that applesauce is watery, so you want to cut down on your liquids in your recipes by about a quarter-cup to balance it.
11. Pick Dark Chocolate
This is one of my favorite tips. I like having chocolate now and then, so I switched to dark chocolate.
The higher the cocoa content the healthier the chocolate.
This can help curb your sweet tooth and is good for your heart as an added bonus.
12. Keep A Food Journal
This is the final tip I will give you to help cut back on sugar.
If you have ever kept a food journal, you know it does take some work. But it can show you a lot of insightful things about your eating habits.
If you have never kept one, it is definitely worth doing!
This is going to help show you how much sugar you are consuming and show you what foods you are getting it from.
This makes it much easier to determine where you can start cutting back.
Cut Back On Your Sugar Intake
Now that you truly understand why sugar is bad for you and the negative impacts it can have on your body, you should be at a point where you are ready to make some changes.
To make sure, let’s recap.
Natural sugars, which are naturally occurring in foods such as fruits and vegetables, are good for you in moderation.
Added sugars are added to processed foods and drinks. These need to be monitored. Women should only have 6g added sugar a day and 9g for men.
Excess sugar can lead to obesity, hear disease, diabetes, inflammation, decreased energy, and changes in your metabolism.
On top of that, sugar is addictive, so cutting the habit can be hard.
When cutting back on sugar, just remember to take it slow. Fill your glass with ice first or even dilute your sugary drinks with some water.
You can also try diet drinks to help cut back on the sugars and calories, as you slowly cut it out altogether.
Or switch to water and make it less boring by adding fruit, vegetables, herbs, and spices. And, lemon water for example, can give you that sweetness you are craving, in a healthy way.
Opt for smaller portions or sweeten your foods and drinks yourself. For example, making an iced coffee at home will contain much less than getting it from a coffee shop.
Make sure you aren’t just switching to something claiming to be healthy without first checking the label.
You can try adding fruit to your meals to help curb your sweet tooth. And you can try using unsweetened applesauce as a substitute for sugar in your baked goods.
Finally, switch to dark chocolate and try keeping a food journal. Dark chocolate is a much healthier option and the food journal is going to help you see where all your sugar is coming from.
Follow these simple tips on how to cut back on sugar and you will be at a healthier sugar intake in no time!