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Reduce Sugar in Diet

1. Pay special attention to breakfast. If you start the day with a sugar rush and a sugar crash, you may have just started a cycle that will perpetuate itself all day. My favorite breakfast: a slice of whole wheat bread with a tablespoon of nut butter (almond or cashew butter.) Or try some homemade granola with yogurt (both without added sweeteners, of course.)

2. Satisfy your sweet tooth with naturally sweet foods. Eat fresh fruits, vegetables, and nuts.

3. Stock up on whole grains. Look for whole grain breads, brown rice and wild rice instead of white. Add ground flaxseed to your diet as well. Use these whole grains – along with a bit of lean protein – to help sustain your moods and energy levels all day. Instead of reaching for a hunk of milk chocolate around 3, have a cup of green or herbal tea and a snack of carrots dipped in hummus or cashew butter on a slice of whole grain toast.

4. Use protein to moderate energy levels. Having a small portion of protein in your snacks and meals can go a long way in keeping your energy levels high.

5. Be a sugar detective at the store, and read all the labels. Look at total sugar grams as well as some of those hidden sugars in the ingredients lists of your favorite foods. Look for anything that ends in the suffix “-ose,” as well as ingredients with the words “syrup” and “cane juice.”

Find the “Sugars” on a food’s Nutrition Label. Take the amount of sugar (measured in grams) and divide by 4 to get the number of teaspoons. (Twelve grams of sugar, for example, is the same as 3 teaspoons).

According to the US Department of Agriculture, we should be limiting our sugar intake to between 6 and 12 teaspoons each day, depending on how many calories you take in. (People who eat 1600 calories should limit themselves to about 6 teaspoons of sugar. People who eat 2200 calories a day can eat 12 teaspoons.)

This may sound like a lot until you realize that there are 10 teaspoons of sugar in a a single 12 ounce soft drink.

6. Be careful not to replace the sugar in your diet with artificial ones, such as Aspartame or Splenda. The jury is still out on possible health effects of these sugar substitutes. The most healthful choice is to allow your body to lose the taste for sugar. (Of course, you’ll want to save sodas and fruit juices for special occasions.)

7. Indulge, the sugar-free way. If you love specialty coffee drinks, try coffee with a splash of half and half. If you love milk chocolate, treat yourself to a square of organic dark chocolate when a craving comes on. Once you start to notice the benefits of a reduced-sugar lifestyle, it’ll be easier to say no to sugar when the cravings strike.

If you fall off the sugar wagon, you can moderate any spikes in blood sugar with a little lean protein – or burn it off with a quick run or brisk walk.