Even if you're not eating junk food all day, you're likely consuming added sugar without even realizing it. Excess sugar hides in unexpected, seemingly "healthy" packaged foods like protein bars and bottled green tea. And since sugar is super addictive, it's best to reduce your intake if you want to take control of those mid-afternoon sweets cravings - or just improve your health overall. Reducing the amount of sugar in your diet may seem like a daunting task, but it's totally doable. Here are some simple ways to reduce your sugar intake:
Find a healthier substitute
We're not saying you should cut out sugar altogether, but if you can find substitutes that have more profound health benefits (because cane sugar has zero of these), you're doing your body justice. Try incorporating raw local honey into your tea, which can help boost immunity and fight seasonal allergies. And instead of using cane sugar when you bake, sub for agave nectar, which has a super low glycemic index (meaning it takes your body longer to process it - a good thing!).
Ditch sugary drinks
Probably the easiest place to start cutting back your sugar intake is in your beverages. Added sugar is in drinks you would never expect, like a seemingly healthy venti iced tea. When ordering tea from a coffee shop, always ask for it "unsweetened" - typically iced teas come standard with added cane syrup, but you can always add in stevia or a little honey on your own instead! And this might seem obvious, but ditch any sugary sodas - if you're craving something bubbly, try a sparkling water with a lemon wedge instead!
Check food labels
Added sugar goes by many names, so even if you don't see "granulated sugar" on a nutrition label, it doesn't mean you're in the clear. Pretty much anything ending in "ose" is some sort of added sugar - sucralose, maltose, fructose. Oh, and definitely avoid high fructose corn syrup - if the name itself makes you suspicious, it definitely should! Once you start looking more closely at labels, you'll realize just how often sugar is added to things. Added sugar's most common hideouts? Salad dressings, condiments, and sauces.
Add extra flavor
When those sugar cravings hit hard (hey, it happens to the best of us), try adding some extra flavor to your food instead of reaching for the sugar. Vanilla extract, spices like cinnamon and nutmeg, and citrus zests are all great ways to add sweetness to your foods and drinks without having to use processed sugar. We love flavoring our almond milk lattes with a little nutmeg and cinnamon - mmm! And if you prefer something sweeter for breakfast, try adding vanilla extract and cinnamon to your oatmeal, or some raw honey and lime zest to your yogurt. Once you cut back your sugar intake, you'll be surprised to see how quickly your sugar cravings will disappear.