Try to cut your sugar intake in 2019

Justin M. Hamrick Health Educator

A worthy health goal for you to consider for 2019 is to cut your sugar intake.

The 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends limiting calories from “added sugars” to no more than 10 percent each day. That’s 200 calories, or about 12 teaspoons, for a 2,000 calorie diet.

What are so-called added sugars? Just like it sounds, added sugars aren’t in foods naturally — they’re added. They include:

• Sugars and syrups that food manufacturers add to products like sodas, yogurt, candies, cereals, and cookies;

• Sugar you add yourself — like the teaspoon of sugar you stir into your coffee. Some foods have sugar naturally — like fruits, vegetables, and milk. The sugars in these foods are not added sugars.

What foods have added sugars? A lot of them, including:

• Regular sodas, energy drinks, and sports drinks;

• Candy;

• Fruit drinks, such as fruitades and fruit punch;

• Cakes, cookies, and brownies;

• Pies and cobblers;

• Sweet rolls, pastries, and doughnuts;

• Dairy desserts, such as ice cream.

How can I cut down on added sugars?

You don’t have to give up the foods you love completely. Instead, you can limit added sugars by making some smart, small changes to how you eat. Here are three things you can do:

1. Find out how many calories you’re getting from added sugars now. You can use the USDA’s to get an idea. Once you know, you can make changes. See the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans — Cut Down on Added Sugars — Page 1;

2. Make some healthy shifts. Replace foods and drinks high in added sugars with healthier options. You could:

• Eat fruit for dessert instead of cookies or cakes;

• Swap sugary cereals for unsweetened cereal with fruit;

• Drink water or low-fat milk with meals instead of sodas — you can still have foods and drinks with added sugars, just choose smaller portions or have them less often;

• If you choose to have a soda, select a smaller size;

• Add 1 teaspoon of sugar to your tea or coffee instead of two or three.

3. Check the ingredients. Look for added sugars in the ingredients list. The higher up added sugars are on the list, the more added sugar is in the product. Added sugars go by a lot of different names like: brown sugar, corn sweetener, corn syrup, dextrose, fructose, glucose, high-fructose corn syrup, honey, invert sugar, lactose, malt syrup, maltose, molasses, raw sugar, sucrose, trehalose, and turbinado sugar.

Added sugars hide in foods that you might not expect. They’re common in foods like pasta sauces, crackers, pizzas, and more.

What about artificial sweeteners?

Artificial sweeteners – like saccharin, aspartame, acesulfame potassium (Ace-K), and sucralose — can help you cut down on calories, but they may not be a good way to manage your weight in the long run.

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