Natural vs. Added Sugar
When we talk about sugar, we don’t mean to make simple sugar the villain. After all, there is a difference between natural sugars and the sweeteners, sugar alcohols, and syrups made in factories. Naturally occurring sugar is the sugars you find in unprocessed foods such as:
- …and some grains
Natural sugar can be good for you in moderation based on your lifestyle. If you’re an athlete or heading out on a 9-mile run, the natural sugars in a banana will go a long way in fueling your body’s quick energy stores. Again, these natural sugars aren’t necessarily bad but they are still sugar!
On the other hand, added sugar is what’s found in many processed foods, drinks, and condiments as they’re being produced. Many times, natural sugars and added sugars are found in items like sports drinks, bottled juices, and even “health bars”! Here, it’s important to note that brown sugar, agave, coconut sugar, and any other variation of that is also an added sugar, even if it’s inherently natural. Here’s a peek at the common culprits when it comes to added sugars:
- Whole-grain cereals
- Flavored instant oatmeal
- Frozen desserts
- Frozen meals
- Granola bars
- Protein bars
- Nutrition bars
- Pasta sauce
- Fruit juices
- Barbecue sauce
- Salad dressing
- Coffee creamers
5 Ways to Cut Back On Sugar
The World Health Organization has actually cut dropped their sugar recommendations, now saying that less than 5% of your total calories should be coming from sugars added to foods plus sugars naturally present in honey, syrup, and fruit juices. But sugar comes in numerous forms, and it’s almost impossible to avoid! So, how do you start cutting back?
1. Use Fruit and Spices to Sweeten Breakfast
If you start your morning off with a PSL + a packet of Apple Cinnamon oatmeal, you’ve already got nearly 50 whopping grams of sugar to account for before you’ve even hit the road! Creamers and flavored breakfast foods like cereal and oatmeal are usually filled with added sugars, making breakfast one of our top focuses. Rather than dumping flavored creamer (or just straight up white sugar) into your coffee, try swapping it for unflavored almond milk with cinnamon, cocoa powder, or nutmeg! There are even plenty of unsweetened vanilla versions of plant-based milks available to help you make the switch.
The same goes for oatmeal. Rather than opening a pre-flavored packet full of sugar, opt for a serving of plain quick oats topped with fruit, nuts, and spices! You can even throw in a scoop of your favorite TLS® Shake, or skip the oats entirely for a protein-packed shake you can blend with your favorite fruits!
2. Keep an Eye On Nutrition Labels
Navigating the hidden, natural, and processed sugars can quickly get overwhelming. Thankfully, we’ve got a few good rules-of-thumb to get you started as you’re comparing products:
Nutrition Bars/Snacks: 12 grams of sugar per serving or less
Hot/Cold Cereals:8 grams of sugar per serving or less
Flavored Yogurts: 20 grams of sugar per container or less
Granola: 5 grams of added sugar or less
Just remember that if you eat twice the serving, you’re getting twice the sugar! If you’re ever in doubt, you can always just look it up!
3. Substitute When Baking
While a little sugar helps in bringing out the natural sweetness and improving the pastry’s texture, most of the time you can cut back on sugar quite a bit. In most cases, you can use substitutes to cut the amount of sugar in your favorite recipes by 1/3 or even by 1/2! Here are our favorite substitutes:
- Unsweetened Applesauce: This works in a 1:1 ratio, but you need to reduce the amount of liquid in the recipe by 1/4 cup if any is added.
- Omission: Generally, you can cut 1/4 of the sugar in nearly any recipe without too much of a change!
- Dates: A date puree can be used in place of 1 cup of sugar in any recipe! Just puree 1 cup pitted dates with 1/2 cup hot water until a thick paste is made.
4. Make Your Own Drinks!
From teas to cocktails to soda, there are plenty of ways to avoid the tablespoons of sugar these drinks sneak into your daily diet. DIYing your favorite drinks doesn’t have to be complex or time-consuming, either!
- Tea: Rather than grabbing a store-bought bottle, grab a big jug and a large sachet of herbal tea with a fruit-forward flavor such as lemon-ginger, orange, blueberry, or raspberry! The natural sweetness of the fruit will help satisfy that sweet tooth without any of the added sugar. If you’re really trying to get rid of a craving, you can even try some of the dessert-themed teas on the shelves!
- Cocktails: Sure, you can #RoseAllDay but that doesn’t mean you’ll be getting any closer to those health or weight loss goals! The sugars found in wine and mixed drinks might surprise you, but you can opt for a mocktail made with sparkling water and infused with herbs and fruit instead. Plus, that hydration means you don’t have to deal with the hangover tomorrow morning!
- Soda: With the sales of soda steadily declining in favor of seltzer and sparkling water, you might have already hopped on this trend! If not, it’s time to ditch the soda (yes, even the diet) for a sparkling water. Many brands offer flavored versions that come without sugar or sugar alcohols such as La Croix, but you can always grab a store-brand version and infuse it with your favorite flavors at home!
5. Make a Must-Haves List
We know now that sugar can be addictive, so quitting cold-turkey might not be an appealing option for many. That being said, it’s not going to be the end of everything if you enjoy sugar in moderation. One way to go about this is to take a habit and improve it! If you love your nightly dessert, allow yourself 2 indulgences per week and replace the rest with a TLS® Shake or fruit! Another route to ensure moderation is to make a “Must-Haves List”, find replacements for the treats you can! Here are a few of our favorites:
- Ice Cream | TLS® Shake or Protein Nice Cream
- 1 chocolate bar | 1 serving of dark chocolate and a small piece of fruit
- Cakes + Pies | Crustless Berry Crumble with oats
- Cookies | Protein Bites
For more ideas on healthy changes and options, please give me a call and let's do "coffee" ... 503.899.8017! Have a great day! Jorji Jett