5 EASY Ways to Reduce Your Sugar Intake!

Tricks great for parents and children!

Yesterday, I started an article with the old Mary Poppins saying " just a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down" and it REALLY got me thinking about just how many "spoonfuls" of sugar we were eating everday before I started our "fit family challenge". We recently have gone to almost ZERO prepackaged foods, eat almost all organic, and swapped our sugary snacks for healthier items. In the beginning, I was stunned to find that sugar is hidden almost everywhere you look- even when you think you are making the smarter choice! Check out the label on the next "fat free" product you buy. Sugar is technically "fat-free" therefore is used in huge amounts to flavor these "diet" items even though it converts to fat once in the body. The scarier thing about sugar is that it is extremely addictive (trust me I know) and a habit passed on to our children through our actions and choices....yikes.

It is estimated now that Americans eat in just 1 day more sugar than our ancestors ate in their entire lifetime. We have all read and heard about the dangers of consuming too much sugar so why have we let it go this far? Taking in too much sugar can lead to weight gain which brings with it an entire host of health issues including things like liver failure, diabetes, and cardiovascular issues. This trend is especially dangerous to our children who are now consuming more sugar than they can burn off in a day causing focus issues, hyperactivity, childhood diabetes, and even childhood hypertension.

Since we all know how dangerous it is, how do we break the cycle and teach our children better than we were thought? Are we ready to be the "mean" parent that puts a permanent ban on sugary snacks? Are ready to be called the "evil mom or dad" when we throw away the entire contents of our cereal cabinet? Are WE ready to get rid of our sodas and fancy frappuccino drinks? The good news for us is that we don't have to go to such extremes! We can reduce the amount of sugar we consume by making a few simple lifestyle changes that don't result in crying children or boycotting the coffee house!

Here are 5 simple ways to reduce the sugar you and your children eat!

1. Swap out Breakfast - While breakfast is the "most important meal of the day", for many Americans it is also the meal loaded with the most sugar!Think about your typical breakfast items: sugary cereal, muffins, donuts, pancakes or waffles with syrup, toast with jelly, you get the idea. Instead of having these, swap your breakfast for a heart healthy option like oatmeal or fresh fruit.

2. Make your own dressing!-If you have never looked at the back of your salad dressings- check it out because most dressings are loaded with sugars. Instead - try making your own with oil and vinegar OR make a homemade ranch dressing with Greek yogurt instead of sour cream! HOMEMADE DRESSING DOESN'T HAVE TO BE BORING! Take a mason jar and add some of the following: diced red pepper, diced onion, minced garlic, lemon juice, Dijon mustard, diced jalepenos if you like it spicy, and salt & pepper. Then add 1/4 cup of water, 1/2 cup of vinegar (your choice), and 1 cup of oil and SHAKE IT! You can make any variation of this recipe simply by altering the ingredients and vinegar choices.

3. Whole Wheat vs. White - The debate rages on! Whole wheat bread has a lower glycemic index than white bread, is lower in calories, has a higher fiber content, AND it takes longer to convert to sugar in the body. It's a simple swap!

4. Kick or reduce the Soda Habit! 1 12oz can of soda contains the equivalent of 8-10 teaspoons of sugar! You would never eat 8-10 teaspoons in a row or feed it to your child but we certainly have no problem drinking it! Drinking 1 can of soda is just like eating a slice of sweet pecan pie. Simply switching to diet soda may not even do the trick as there are studies now that are showing that the artificial sweeteners used (although zero calories) may impact our body's sweet cravings and cause us to crave sweeter foods over healthful ones. Even so called "vitamin drinks" contain the same amount of sugar. Switch to water or a non-sweetened beverage. Check out these 5 easy ways to get your kids (or yourself) to drink more water!

5 . Think outside of the Box! - While this sounds labor and time intensive, this one is easier than it sounds. With our hectic lifestyles, we have all become accustomed to grabbing the convenient box or bag to make dinner or to provide a snack. Avoid these prepackaged foods and you will immediately see a HUGE reduction in the amount of sugar you consume. Even items you would think of as healthy can be FILLED with sugar! One mango Jamba Juice smoothie contains over 400 calories and roughly 90 grams of sugar-you could have had two 3 musketeers bars instead! Popular pre-made lunch kits can have as much as 33 grams of sugar!! So...take the extra 5 minutes and pack it yourself or make your own smoothie. You would never even think of putting 2 candy bar's worth of sugar in your homemade smoothie...would you? Lean how to save money and get healthy by shopping the perimeter of your grocery store!

Is it possible to COMPLETELY ELIMINATE SUGAR FROM YOUR DIET? Sure, I imagine that you could but I can't imagine how hard and restrictive it might be. I have learned from my past diet failures that anything that involves restriction and large amounts of effort are most likely not going to happen for me! To achieve success in anything, I have to be able to gain control and do it while still living a "normal" life and raising 5 kids. BTW this normal lifestyle has to include cookies! These 5 steps were just a starting point for me and ones that were relatively easy to accomplish (still working on the soda though..fingers crossed).

So..I guess Mary Poppins can keep her "spoonful of sugar" I will just add a naturally sweet berry to my medicine and go about my day. I think I will put more stock in the old adage "An apple a day keeps the doctor away"!

If you have ANY tips for sugar reduction, I would love to know them. I am tricking my kids (and myself) into eating healthier and am trying to make it fun for us all as we go. I believe it's called "mommy magic" so share any that you have!


Raising Reagan said...

What a great post with some great tips! My brother in law used to drink 4-5 sodas a day and it was amazing to see the transformation when he cut it out of his drinks.
We are big water/tea without sugar drinkers in our family and that makes such a huge difference.

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Leslie @ Violet Imperfection said...

Great tips, I need to focus on limiting our sugar intake for sure!

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Tracie Nall said...

Limiting soda is a huge one. I started putting just a little bit of lime juice in water, and it gives it a kick of flavor without adding any sugar.