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NOURISH

10 tips for weaning off sugar

The average American takes in more than twice the amount of added sugar than is recommended, according to the American Heart Association (AHA). And that can put us at increased risk for health issues like high cholesterol, depression and obesity.

Women should have just six teaspoons, or 25 grams a day, of added sugars. And men should have nine teaspoons, or 38 grams a day, according to AHA guidelines.  

It's simple to see how easy it is to overdo added sugar when you consider that 12-ounces of cola can have 39 grams of sugar. That means just a can puts both men and women over their daily allotment.  

But there are ways to taper off of added sugar over time. Here are 10 tips for doing so: 

  1. Know the definition of added sugar. It's any sugar that is not a naturally occurring sugar, such as those found in fruit and milk.
  2. Look for sugar on food labels. Among sugar's aliases are sucrose, corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup, honey, molasses, agave nectar, brown rice syrup, barley malt syrup, evaporated cane juice and maltodextrin.
  3. Don't go "cold turkey." If you have a sweet tooth reduce your sugar intake gradually.
  4. Start with "half & half." For example, mix sweetened and plain yogurts to adjust to the taste of less sugar in your yogurt. Gradually wean off sweetened yogurt until you're eating just plain.
  5. Cut down on packaged and processed foods. Check food labels on items like tomato sauce, soup, low-fat and fat-free salad dressings and yogurt for sugar aliases.
  6. Indulge in high-quality sweets. 70% cacao dark chocolate can satisfy a sweet craving without triggering your sweet tooth.
  7. Free sweets aren't "free." When someone brings their leftover donuts or cookies to work, even though they don't cost you any money, they still have a health cost. Encourage your co-workers to leave sugary treats at home.
  8. Get rid of the candy and cookie jar. Besides sugar-sweetened beverages, the leading sources of added sugars in the American diet are desserts like cakes and cookies, candy, and dairy desserts like ice cream.
  9. Cut out soda pop and other sugary drinks. This includes many iced and hot coffee drinks.
  10. Instead, pick low- or no-sugar beverages, like mineral water, plain iced tea or good old fashioned tap water.

WHAT YOU CAN DO

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