Breaking news: Sugar is bad for you.
Seriously, though. The stuff is killing you. While everyone is aware that too much added sugar in your diet leads to obesity, the latest research looks at its effects on your heart. According to a recent study published in JAMA Internal Medicine, consuming too much added sugar increases your risk of death by heart disease significantly.
Need help scaling back? We chatted with Paddy Spence, CEO of Zevia (a stevia sweetened, zero-calorie soda), who gave up sugar more than 14 years ago. Here are his best tips for knocking the sweet stuff for good.
Be a Sugar Sleuth: Take an inventory of your diet to track down where you’re getting most of your sugar. It’s easy to pinpoint some sources, like the sugar you spoon into your coffee, but other sugar finds its way to us in all kinds of guises, so always check a label’s Nutrition Facts panel.
Forget Fruit Knock-Offs: Whole fruits offer fiber and other good-for-you nutrients. Fruit juice and dried fruit, on the other hand, are sugar-concentrated versions of the real thing.
Cut Down on Condiments: There’s a reason kids love ketchup…it’s one of the most sugary condiment culprits, and barbecue sauce is just as bad. Perhaps the sneakiest of the lot, however, is salad dressing —especially fat-free varieties. The best way to control sugar content is to make your own.
Steer Clear of Cereal: Some choices, like Frosted Flakes and Honey Nut Cheerios, are obvious sugar pushers. But don’t be fooled by seemingly healthy options, like granola.
Forego Fruit-Flavored Yogurts: A cup of regular fruit-flavored yogurt can contain about 30 grams of sugar (that’s not much less than a can of Coke). If you want blueberry yogurt, you’re much better off stirring fresh blueberries into plain yogurt. They’re naturally low in sugar.
Not All Sweeteners Are Equal: Although your body metabolizes different sweeteners differently, at the end of the day it’s all sugar. Try stevia, a natural no-cal sweetener. It’s great for both coffee and baking, and a little goes a long way.
Curb Cravings with Protein: Everyone’s different, but a high-protein snack can help suppress a sweet tooth. Try a hard-boiled egg, a cup of cottage cheese, or a spoonful of natural peanut butter to stave off a hankering.
Don’t Try to Be Super Human: Trying to eat healthily is a noble goal, but being too strict will set you up for failure. Rather than trying for gluten-free, sugar-free, dairy-free, vegan everything, focus on just one.