11 essential tips to reduce your daily sugar intake

by May 28, 2019Healthy living

Sugar, desserts, snacks, and sweet stuff: who doesn’t love it? I know I sure do!

I have a serious sweet tooth, and I just love eating desserts and sweet snacks. But as with anything in life: it’s best to do it in moderation. So on occasion, I just let myself have those moments, and the rest of the time I just try to eat healthy. In that way it stays special and it won’t come with all the negative health effects of eating sugar all day every day. This is a choice that my body really appreciates!

The thing is, eating too much refined or processed sugar can be really harmful to your health. And I’m not talking about sugars found in fresh fruits. Fruits are incredibly nutritious and healthy, and packed with antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. So please don’t be scared to eat fruit! But processed and refined sugar are stripped from those nutrients and can have a drastic effect on your blood sugar and your overall health.

In general, I don’t believe that it’s necessary to cut out all sugar from your diet (unless your doctor tells you to, of course!). But I do believe it’s a very good idea to consume processed sugars in moderation. Cutting it out completely is just not very realistic for most people. So you’ll probably have more success by choosing the moderation-path.

Here are a few great tips that will help you to reduce your daily sugar intake:

1. Become aware of your sugar intake

I think the very first step that you need to take when you try to change any type of behaviour, is to become aware of what you are doing right now. Because how can you change something that you’re not even aware of?

So try to identify where your sugar intake is coming from. One method is: write down for one week everything that you’re eating and drinking. And I mean everything. Every little cookie, every spoon of sugar in your tea. You can also keep track of it by using an app such as “MyFitnessPall”.

By writing all of this down, you will get a clear overview of how much sugar you are actually consuming on a daily or weekly basis. I promise you, it’s going to be more than you realize!

From there on you can try to make a plan on how to reduce your sugar intake. The rest of the tips will certainly come in handy with that!

2. Stop drinking your sugars

A great way to start reducing your daily sugar intake, is by stopping to drink your sugars. It’s really a quite simple solution. But I’ll admit that it might be hard in the beginning when you’re so used to drinking these drinks. It took me a while too, to overcome it!

But phasing out these drinks from your diet is going to make a huge difference. There are SO many sugars added to most drinks, it’s insane. So if you’re still guilty as charged, you can already cut down on a big dose of daily sugar if you just say no to the drinks alone.

If just drinking water is not going to do the trick for you, then try adding some citrus or other fruit infusions to your water. It’s really refreshing and delicious! Just try out a few fruits, and see which flavour works best for you.

3. Never go shopping on an empty stomach

This tale is as old as time: never go shopping when you are hungry! It’s a recipe for disaster. Everything that you come across looks so much more appealing when you have an empty stomach. Not only will you buy more than you were coming for, you’re also more likely to grab unhealthy foods, including sugary ones! I still make that mistake sometimes. And yes I can honestly tell it negatively affects my purchasing decisions every time I go shopping when I’m hungry.

When you think about it, this is actually a super simple solution. Just have something in your stomach before you go to the supermarket, and you’re good to go!

4. Become a rockstar at reading labels

Another worthwhile way to cut down on sugars, is to start reading product labels. When you check the ingredient list, watch out for names such as: high-fructose corn syrup, cane sugar, dextrose, maltose, caramel, or molasses. If you want to reduce your sugar intake, it’s a good idea to skip on those products.  

As a vegan, I literally read every product label before I buy anything at all. And it has taught me so much about the foods and drinks that I’m actually consuming! Not just whether or not there are any animal products inside. But I also became aware of all the other ingredients that I’m eating and drinking day in, day out.

I honestly believe that anyone should read their food labels. Just to know what you are putting into your body. That only makes perfect sense right?! I’m actually surprised by how many people never read labels and have no clue what they are actually putting into their bodies. And I’m not just talking about checking the calories and the macros, but really the actual ingredients. I believe it’s absolutely essential if you want to live a healthy lifestyle!

5. Don’t bring it into your home

This particular tip works absolute wonders for me personally. And I’m positive that it will work for many of you as well. It’s so easy to grab something unhealthy when you KNOW it’s in your house. You just feel it is waiting for you to eat it. It’s insane! It’s just too easy to access when you stock the sugary treats and snacks in your home.

And yes, of course you can still order take-away, or you can still run to the store if you REALLY crave it. But that’s an extra hurdle to take, and less likely to happen than grabbing it when it’s already there waiting for you.

So when you don’t bring it into your home in the first place, it will be a case of: “out of sight, out of mind”. And it can really help you to reduce your daily sugar intake.

6. Stay away from sugar-filled breakfast foods

Next to snacks and drinks, breakfast is typically also a major contributor to people’s daily sugar intake. Think about cereals, pancakes, granola, muffins, chocolate croissants, cinnamon rolls. So many sugary choices to eat for breakfast! Sure, maybe you like to have a sweet Sunday breakfast once a week, but just don’t do it every day.

Some of the breakfast options are pretty obviously loaded with sugar. But things such as cereals, granola’s, or muesli mixes are very often marketed as being healthy, but they are actually not. So that brings us back to the point of: read your labels! Don’t believe everything they advertise. You’ll be surprised how unhealthy some “healthy” products are. So choose wisely if you want to reduce your sugar intake.

7. Switch up your diet to more real foods

Next to switching your breakfast choices, it’s also a good idea to have a look at your other meals. If you want to cut down on refined and processed sugars, try to reduce the amount of food that you eat from bottles and cans and packages. You’ll be surprised in how many products they put sugar! (Again: read your labels!) Instead of buying all these pre-packed and easy foods, try to go for more “real” food. Foods that still look as close as possible to how they came from nature. I’m talking about things such as: fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, seeds, herbs, etcetera. More “real” or “whole” means less surprises!

8. Plan your meals

Another great way to reduce your daily sugar intake is to plan your meals ahead. Why would that work, you ask? First of all, when you plan your meals, it’s much easier to skip on the take-away boxes. It also means that you can control which ingredients are used for your meals, including sugar. You can prep your meals for a few days, or even for a whole week. Not only will this save you a ton of time in the kitchen. It will also prevent you from going for a quick trip to the nearest fast food place.

So how to do this meal planning and prepping? First write out a list of everything that you want to eat for the coming week. Write it down to the smallest detail. Then make a grocery list of everything that you will need to make all that. And when you’re doing that, keep in mind number 7. Choose real, whole, and fresh ingredients as much as possible. So no processed sauces loaded with sugar, and all that. Also don’t forget to think about your snacks in between meals. Also plan and prep healthy alternatives for those moments!

9. Gradually reduce the amount you put in your tea or coffee

When you’re so used to drinking sugar in your tea or coffee, going cold turkey is probably not going to work. It will just taste super yucky or weird. Until maybe 1 or 2 years ago I ALWAYS had 2 teaspoons of sugar in my tea. Once in a while I tried it without, and I just couldn’t stand the taste. But at one point I decided that I really wanted to drink my tea sugar-free eventually. So what I did was gradually reducing the amount of sugar that I put in there over time. So 1.5 spoon for a while, 1 spoon for a while, half a spoon for a while, until I was able to drink it without. And now I love to drink it as it is!

So my suggestion is: if you drink your coffee or tea with sugar, don’t go cold turkey, but gradually reduce the sugar you put into it. And in that way you’ll get used to the taste. In the end, it will save you quite a lot of sugar intake, if you drink several cups of coffee or tea per day!

10. Switch to natural sweeteners

Of course, if you still want a sweet taste -be it in your tea or coffee, or in something else- you can also replace the sugar with a natural sweetener.

An example of a great natural sweetener is stevia. Stevia sweetener is made from a plant and has no calories or carbs in it. Consuming stevia also won’t cause an increase in blood glucose levels. It’s therefore a great healthy alternative for processed and refined sugar.

If you feel like it, you can even grow your own stevia plants in your home. And whenever you need it, you can just easily harvest a little! The sweetness in the leaves is very concentrated, so you’ll only need a little bit each time.

One thing I have to admit about stevia though, is that it has quite a particular taste. So it may not be  for everyone. But at least give it a try!

11. Make sure you’re getting enough sleep

This tip might be a little less obvious than the rest. But studies have found something very interesting:
people who don’t get enough sleep at night actually consume more junk food, soda and calories, than people who do get a good night’s rest. They found that when people don’t get enough sleep, their hormone levels may be disrupted, increasing the chance of cravings.

In other words: if you want to reduce your daily sugar intake and have a lower chance of cravings, make sure to go to bed early and get some good quality sleep!

Final note:

As has become clear: there are many different ways in which you can cut down on your daily sugar intake.

Don’t try to do everything all at once though. Because it just takes time for your body to adjust to a reduced amount of sugar coming in. Especially when you normally consume a very high amount of sugar every day. Going cold turkey overnight just won’t work very well for most people and will only make you frustrated and give up on it.

Just take your time, step by step, slowly decreasing the amount, and your body (and taste buds!) will get used to it. And in the end, your body will absolutely thank you for it!

How are you going to start your journey of less sugar? Or is there something you’re particularly struggling with at the moment? Make sure to leave a comment!

About Me

My name is Lenore and it is my mission to present women with tips and tricks on how to create a healthier lifestyle, but also on how to live more sustainably where less is more. So if you're looking for just that, you're in the right place!