Candy, cakes, cookies: These are one of the pleasures in life. And I’m all for you treating yourself from time to time. But did you know that these treats are probably only the tip of the iceberg in your sugar consumption? Because there is so much sweetness hidden in food that even those abstaining from dessert are probably eating too much sugar. And all this sugar might be making you fat and sick.
The good news is that there are easy ways to remove that excess sweet stuff. And the best part is you won’t even miss it! And that can leave you thinner, more energetic and less sick! Pretty amazing, huh?
Ready to look and feel your best? Here are 15 absolutely painless ways to cut sugar from your diet!
Protein Powder –
You’ll be throwing all sorts of sweet fruit into your smoothie. Do you really need the extra sweetness from sugar? Purchase unsweetened protein powder and not only will your smoothie taste just as sweet, but it will be sweeter to your body as well.
Add sliced almonds, cashews, walnuts, dried coconut flakes, raisins, and dates into a bowl. Voila! You have cereal with no added sweeteners. Most commercial granola has about as much of the sweet stuff as a candy bar. And even if cereal is sweetened with agave or honey, that still means extra sugar for your body.
Honey Roasted Nuts –
Nuts can be a healthy snack, but you’ll also find many unhealthy nut varieties in the store. Think honey roasted, ranch flavored or bbq. And these nut options are usually sweetened. Try this instead: drizzle raw cashews with melted coconut oil, chili powder and a touch of whole leaf stevia, Bake for an hour on low (200 degrees or lower). Healthy and tasty nuts made easy!
Non-Dairy Milk –
More and more people are opting for non-dairy milk. Store shelves are filled with almond milk, coconut milk, hemp milk and rice milk. But these non-dairy milk varieties usually come with lots and lots of added sugar. And you’re often adding milk to things like cereal or coffee which may already be sweetened. So make sure to look for brands that are unsweetened. You won’t miss the sugar, I swear.
Salad Dressing –
A salad sounds healthy, doesn’t it? But it’s not so healthy when you throw sugar on top of it in the form of salad dressing. Many store-bought salad dressings contain a ton of the sweet stuff. Make your own salad dressing at home. Oil and vinegar dressing is a basic option. Or find a favorite recipe and substitute whole leaf stevia for the recommended sweetener.
Cough Drops –
When your throat is sore, any type of relief is greatly appreciated. But most cough drops have as much sugar as any other hard candy. And sugar weakens your immunity which is the last thing you need when fighting a cold. Try relying more on tea with lemon for a scratchy throat. Your sugar intake will decrease, your immunity will strengthen and you’ll feel amazing before you know it!
Canned Soup –
True story: my husband brought home a “healthy” brand of low-sodium lentil soup the other day. How did the soup compensate for the lack of sodium? Extra sugar! And this brand is marketed specifically to those watching their health. Just because you’re buying vegetable soup doesn’t mean it’s wholesome. If you’re going to buy soup in a can or in a box, make sure to check the label for added sweet stuff.
Many consider this drink to be a healing, miracle elixir. But the problem with most store bought brands of kombucha is that they are overloaded with sweeteners. If you really want a healthy drink that isn’t water, try an unsweetened green tea. Or if you want something fermented, try unsweetened kefir. But most commercial “health drinks” are flowing with sugar.
Pasta Sauce –
You can make a pretty quick healthy pasta sauce at home. Just combine:
diced tomatoes with their juice
garlic and onions
spices like oregano, basil, and red pepper
Simmer for about 15 minutes and serve. You don’t need to make this complicated. But when you buy store bought pasta sauce, you might be pouring sugar right onto your dinner.
Multi-Grain Bread –
There are a few brands of bread that aren’t sweetened. But you have to be diligent when reading labels. Even wholesome-sounding bread varieties like wheat bread, whole grain bread and sprouted grain bread have added sugar. And you probably don’t enjoy the sugar in bread like you do in a cake. Don’t waste your sugar intake on foods you’re eating to nourish your body! Read labels and find a bread that doesn’t rely on sugar to taste good.
Fruit Cocktail –
All fruit is naturally sweet, but that’s ok because the fiber in fruit slows the speed of sugar digestion. This means that sugar consumed as whole fruit isn’t damaging to the body. However, fruit sold in a can or a cup is a different story. That fruit is often is sitting in a liquid of corn syrup and other sugars. This is the type of sweetener that is damaging. If you don’t have the time to cut your own homemade fruit salad, purchase chopped frozen fruit and let it defrost an hour before eating. Frozen fruit rarely contains added sweeteners.
Bran Muffins –
People often assume that foods containing the word bran are healing foods. But that couldn’t be farther from the truth. Bran muffins can contain as much sugar as a chocolate chip muffin. This doesn’t mean you can never eat a bran muffin. But it needs to be consumed as a treat. The problem with bran muffins is that people eat them thinking they are nutritious, and then they reward themselves with a cookie. Now they’ve had a double dose of sugar.
I’ve talked about this before, but most commercial yogurts contain so much added sugar. And this is frustrating because people choose yogurt thinking it’s a nutritious snack. Try this instead. Let frozen fruit defrost for about a half hour and mix it into your plain yogurt. The fruit will sweeten the yogurt in a way that is much healthier for blood sugar. And you won’t miss the store bought fruit on the bottom variety.
Dried Fruit –
You might choose dried fruit because it sounds like a healthy sweet snack. But the crazy thing is that they sell much of the dried fruit on the market with even more added sugar. You get sugary dried cranberries or sweetened dried pineapple chunks. So make sure to purchase your dried fruit naturally dried without additives. It will have s0 much natural sweetness that you’ll never miss that extra stuff.
Instant Oatmeal –
While oats can be healthy, these little bags of instant oatmeal are usually dessert disguised as breakfast. A better choice is to get plain oatmeal and liven it up yourself. Add nuts, coconut flakes and fresh fruit. This will taste even better than the processed stuff. And you’ll cut a whole bunch of unnecessary sugar out of your diet.
So that is my 15 absolutely painless ways to cut sugar from your diet
These are 15 ways to take sugar out of your diet where you don’t need it. Save your sugar intake for yummy treats. Don’t waste it on foods that you’re eating to be healthy. Just a few of these small changes could mean a big difference for your health and your waistline.
Patricia Weber says
In the past year or two, I’ve had some hard lessons in sugar overload Erica. Early on my husband wanted to switch up to yogurt. I shopped around for what I FELT was the lowest sugar content, forgetting how many grams are in a teaspoon. After about 4 months he was due for his A1C blood test (diabetes). I wasn’t there, but he couldn’t answer the doctor’s question about his raised A1C. Then I dug in and remembered: geez! I was killing him. Well, not literally but you know what I mean right? Anyway, I threw it all out. HORRIBLE it has so much. The only yogurt brand I’ve found that is relatively low is Siggi’s. And I only buy it about once every two months.
I love your tip on nuts! I’ve avoided those honey roasted for years. Will give your stevia tip a try! Thanks.
What a story about your husband! I’m so glad you found the root of the problem so quickly. I’ve never looked at Siggi’s yogurt but I’m glad to hear that has been a better choice for him. And it seems like he is eating it in moderation as well so it sounds like he is on a good path.
Sabrina Quairoli says
Great list! Tomato sauce is the best made from home. Why do companies feel the need to add sugar to it? My mom showed me how to make tomato sauce in 20 minutes and it tastes delicious. Thanks for sharing.
Sabrina, I wasn’t really taught how to cook that much as a kid. I was shocked at how easy it is to make tomato sauce! Yes, the stuff in the jar is convenient, but, like you said, making your own is not a time consuming process and it probably tastes better.
Beth Niebuhr says
Such good suggestions. I sometimes get a scratchy throat at concerts and pop a cough drop and my teeth feel awful afterwards. I could try relying more on tea with lemon for a scratchy throat but probably not during a symphony orchestra concert. I do buy the least sugary ones I can find. Love nuts and several of your other suggestions.
Yes, I would agree that tea at a concert would be a bit tricky. Plus who wants to drink extra liquid and then stand forever in line for the women’s room! I think moderation with anything is fine when it really is the best option (like at a movie or concert.)
We really need to be careful with the foods and drinks we consume. What is advertised as “healthy” is often far from it. The number of people I know who believe they are being healthy when drinking juice is shocking.
I admit to having a sweet tooth but I try to limit sweets and eat dark chocolate. I have swapped ice cream for Greek yoghurt. I take no sugar in my tea or chocolate but have one with coffee.
Small choices make a difference.
I love what you say about small choices, Phoenicia! That really is such an important point. We tend to think of diet overhaul as this big dramatic change. But it can just be a series of small changes that eventually translates to big results.
Ken Dowell says
Most of things you mentioned I stay away from. But granola? Argh! I think I’m having a healthy breakfast when I have granola, usually with a banana sliced on top. I know that you might be thinking and the answer is no, I don’t make my own but rather buy commercial granola (with sugar no doubt).
I used to think the same way, Ken. Granola is really high in sugar unfortunately. Larabar Renola is a better option. It is no added sweeteners, though the downside is it is on the pricier side.
Marquita Herald says
What an eye-opener Erica. I stopped buying canned soup quite awhile ago, but because of the sodium, I didn’t realize sugar was an issue as well. The one thing I wonder is if bread from a bakery is any healthier than the usual breads on the store shelves? I normally buy this wonderful wholegrain wheat bread from a local bakery and it sure tastes a lot better then the prepackaged stuff! Thanks for the great advice.
Marquita, you would have to check with the baker about sugar content. They would be able to tell you about sugar content. A big percentage of bread has added sugar, so you have to check, even if the bread seems healthier.
Erica, I’m pretty up on healthy eating but a couple of things surprised me. I don’t buy pasta sauce but I sure would never have thought it would have sugar in it. The second surprise was the ‘healthy canned soup’. It’s like all the other food labels – you really need to check for yourself. Everyone thinks eating yogurt is so healthy but I do know if’s loaded with sugar – why not make your own, it’s so easy. (I’ll bet you do)
Sugar is just such an easy way to make food taste better, so a lot of manufacturers take advantage of that. Of course, you can also make food taste good without sugar. It just takes a little more work.
I love this list- when we first saw a nutritionist, she pulled out two packs of salad dressing and asked us to point out which one was healthier. The fat-free, blah blah dressing we picked was loaded with sugar and junk!! We would have been better off topping our salad with a candy bar! This year I’ve been working on phasing out our favorite store bought ranch dressing for homemade italian dressing. :'( But it’s good and we use it in so many different things beyond salad! Thanks for the tip too on pasta sauce- I’m gonna have to try that next time!
I remember people used to warn about the fat in salad dressing. But the most damaging ingredient is really that sugar!
I make from scratch most of our breads and dishes so I can control what actually goes in our food.
That is great, Candy. If you have the time to do that, that is the way to go.
What great information! Sugar is so hard on our body and it’s in so many foods! I try to get my sugar naturally, like from fruits! I was born with a liver disease and I try to eat as healthy as possible. I never add sugar or salt…
thanks for this post.
It is unfortunate that you have a liver disease, but its great that you made something good from it in being so nourishing to your body in what you eat.
Karin Rambo says
I never thought about bread or pasta sauce! It seems like sugar is in everything. Thanks for the tips!
Sugar really is in almost everything, Karin. That is why it is so valuable to be aware.
These are some really great tips. & this is coming from someone who absolutely swears by chocolate. I will have to bookmark this for later.
I’m glad you found this helpful, KD. And that’s why I wrote this. So you can save your sugar for chocolate and not waste it on pasta sauce or something silly like that.
I always thought fruit was one of the main things to avoid when trying to cut sugar. They have so much natural sugar in them.
Some fruits are better than others, Kari. However, fruit is usually a healthy choice. When you eat fruit in its natural state, the sugar is not as damaging as when eating other sugars. The fiber in the fruit slows down the digestion of the sugar, meaning only a small impact on blood sugar. Just stay away from fruit juice and dried fruits.
Ohhh oatmeal is dessert disguised as breakfast! It is my fave thing to eat when I want to shed off some weight. Thanks for sharing this list!
This is a really great list! I’ve been looking for ways to cut out the obvious sugars but some of these are sneaky and I’m so glad you shared this! Thanks so much! You never know where they will hide that sugar on you!
Glad you found this helpful, Emily! They really do hide sugar in crazy places.
Dia @ All The Things I Do says
Thanks for calling out these hidden sugar sources. It always frustrates me when people think that instant oatmeal is healthy.
I d enjoy kombucha tea, I will be sure to look at the label a little closer of the brand I get. I don’t drink it every day just occasionally .
Dia, I think that most things are fine when they are consumed occasionally. It is the cumulative effect of lots of hidden sugar in many products that becomes damaging. So, in my opinion, occasional kombucha is just fine.
Wow, great suggestions! Sugary is a sneaky little devil and most people don’t realize just how much they are ingesting everyday.
Thank you, Maranda. I truly was shocked when I first became aware of how much hidden sugar. I was eating
Becky @ Project Domestication says
Great list! It really is in so much. I’ve been looking for a good cough drop sans sugar.
Becky, let me know if you find one. I can’t say I’ve looked super hard, but searches have always turned up empty.
Angie @ My So-Called Chaos says
Man that’s a lot of stuff… I do need to ease up on the sugar though.
Don’t worry Angie. You are in good company. Sugar is in so much stuff.
I have such a sweet tooth!! Thank you for these tips!! I needed them 🙂
Glad they were helpful, Jia!
This is such a healthy. I’m a sugar addict and a strong believer that we must replace the habit we want to drop. This post will help me remove my focus from sugar to a better way of eating, Thanks Erica!