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Cut Back on Sugar This Season

12-02-2020

The holiday season is in full swing, which means the season of sweets, baked goods, and decadent side dishes is here, too. As delicious as these treats may be, it’s important to manage your sugar intake—during the holidays and beyond—to stay healthy.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the average American consumes more than 100 pounds of sugar each year, including added or refined sugars like high fructose corn syrup, glucose, and other sweeteners. Each day, the average American is estimated to eat and drink 34 teaspoons of sugar, equal to more than 500 calories. As a comparison, the USDA recommends adults consume no more than 10 teaspoons of sugar each day—a third of what the average adult actually eats.

The Dangers of Excess Sugar

Sugar intake doesn’t just come from desserts, candy, or the spoon of sugar you add to your morning coffee. Almost every processed food in your local supermarket contains extra sugar—especially sodas and many products advertised as “low fat.”

Too much sugar can cause a variety of health problems. Eating excess sugar can cause you to gain weight and even increases your risk of obesity and type 2 diabetes. When you’re overweight, you have an increased risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, and chronic inflammation. The best way to prevent these conditions is to reduce your sugar intake, eat more fresh produce and whole grains, and exercise regularly.

10 Tips to Cut Your Sugar Intake

Want to cut back your sugar consumption this holiday season? Check out these tips with our partner LiveWell Frederick’s 5-2-1-0 program in mind. One of the key components of 5-2-1-0 is choosing zero sugary drinks and opting for low-fat milk or water instead.

  1. Say no to refined sugar—and yes to flavor. Vanilla, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and anise are a few of the delicious spices and flavors that bring holiday dishes to the next level without adding extra sugar.
  1. Find a natural sugar substitute. Instead of sweetening baked goods and other dishes with refined white sugar, use honey, maple syrup, molasses, or 100-percent fruit juice concentrate.
  1. Eat in moderation. If you’ve got a sweet tooth, you don’t necessarily have to give up your favorite desserts. But when you go to enjoy that slice of chocolate cake or that scoop of ice cream, don’t come back for seconds and thirds. Take a moderate portion and eat it slowly, savoring each bite.
  1. Snack before the big meal. If you don’t want to overeat during a big holiday meal, have some healthy snacks beforehand. Enjoy some precut veggies or a handful of nuts an hour or two before the main course so you aren’t as hungry when it’s time to dive into the spread.
  1. Eat your veggies. If you snack on veggies instead of chips or Christmas fudge, you’ll get more fiber and work toward your goal of 5 servings of produce every day. Plus, eating a few servings of fresh veggies will help you feel fuller, so you don’t eat as much later in the day.
  1. Choose fruit instead. Fruits are a great way to satisfy your sweet tooth without consuming refined sugars. Make baked apples with cinnamon, berries, frozen juice bars (choose 100-percent juice), and fruit salads your go-to desserts. With a couple servings of veggies during the day and a fruity dessert in the evening, you’ll easily reach the recommended goal of 5 servings of produce every day.
  1. Rethink your drink. The “0” part of LiveWell Frederick’s 5-2-1-0 program means zero sugary drinks. Quench your thirst and keep your body hydrated with water or low-fat milk; ditch the sodas and sweet beverages.
  1. Focus on your food. Don’t eat mindlessly. Eat with the intention of enjoying and savoring every bite. And stop when you begin to feel full.
  1. Stay hydrated. It’s common to mistake hunger for thirst. Drinking enough water not only keeps you hydrated but also helps keep you feeling more full so you snack less.
  1. Make sweet treats really “treats.” Are you in the habit of enjoying a sugary dessert, candy, coffee drink, or soda every day? Now is the time to start cutting back.
Ready to make your health a priority this season? LiveWell Frederick has tons of helpful resources for you and your family to eat better and live healthier. If you want to improve your health but aren’t sure where to start, Frederick Health is here to help. Access to exceptional care is just a click or call away.