SMART PLANTS CHALLENGE // DAY 3
Sure, we’re wired to crave sugar and sweet foods. But that doesn’t mean we should consume as much as we do. Keeping your daily added sugar quota at or less than 6 teaspoons a day for women, and 9 teaspoons a day for men, can help protect the brain from disease and premature aging in the future, and can keep you mentally sharp in the present. Here’s how to lower your daily sugar consumption, starting today.
6 Ways You Can Reduce Your Sugar Intake
1. Boost with fruit.
Satisfying your sweet tooth in the form of a nutritious, holistic package like fruit is the way humans were designed to eat. Fruits have fiber (which slows down the digestion of natural sugars), along with vitamins, trace minerals and protective antioxidants. Incorporating a few servings of healthy fruits into your day can be both energizing and delicious.
Try it today: A half cup of berries to help sweeten breakfast or dessert.
2. Snack on fat.
Good dietary fats can keep blood sugar levels more stable, and reduce cravings for sweet things. Incorporate the healthy fats your brain loves, like avocado, olives, nuts, and seeds into your snacks to ensure more sustainable energy. Additionally, avoid snacks (or meals) that are entirely made up of carbohydrates.
Try it today: A handful of almonds for a midday snack.
3. Use sugar substitutes.*
Not all “sweeteners” are actually sugars, which means that eating less sugar doesn’t have to mean eating is any less delicious! Using natural sugar-free sweeteners to reduce/replace the added sugars called for in recipes and daily meals is a great way to enjoy your favorite recipes with all the same sweetness but without the sugary impact. A 1:1 monkfruit sweetener (a blend of monkfruit and erythritol) can be used just like sugar in everything from tea to baked treats … and while your taste buds won’t know the difference, your brain and body will certainly benefit.
Try it today: Swap a spoonful of sugar on your morning cereal or in a recipe with a 1:1 monkfruit sweetener instead.
4. Make drinks a sugar-free zone.
Just a single can of soda contains more added sugars than a person should consume for an entire day. But even if you’ve already kicked the soda habit, sugars can sneakily stack up through coffee drinks, sweetened teas, highly processed juices, and mixed alcoholic beverages. One way to make anything you drink instantly healthier is to use sugar-free sweeteners like monkfruit or stevia to help sweeten; or, of course, simply drinking more water will have a multitude of benefits, too. Either way: keep added sugars out of your drinks, period.
Try it today: A sugar-free coffee or tea (unsweetened, or using natural sugar substitutes).
5. Read labels.
Slashing sugar isn’t just about cutting the sugar you add, it’s also about avoiding hidden sugars. Check the labels of foods you consume regularly for their quantity of added sugars – even "healthy" items like salad dressings, sauces, snack bars, and frozen/canned meals are often surprising culprits of high sugar. Replace sugary products with lower sugar brands, or make these items yourself to have the best control over what goes into your body.
Try it today: Check labels of your favorite items, and replace as needed.
6. Add flavorings.
Sugar can be a crutch for adding flavor to foods. But sometimes you can trick your taste buds into perceiving foods as more sweet than they actually are, simply through using other flavorings. Warm spices like cinnamon and nutmeg register as “sweet” to your brain, along with culinary flavorings like vanilla extract and almond extract. Even adding a small amount of salt to many sweet recipes helps to better balance flavors so that additional sweetness is not required.
Try it today: Add a sprinkle of cinnamon in your smoothie or yogurt.
For more motivation to slash sugar, see page 40 of Smart Plants.
For a full list of low sugar recipes, see pages 262-263.
*Avoid artificial sweeteners which may have detrimental effects on brain function.