It’s a well-known fact that many Americans are consuming way too much sugar. We easily get on average 22 teaspoons a day.
That’s quite a high number - the American Heart Association recommends our daily added sugar limit to be no more than 6 teaspoons for women and 9 teaspoons for men.
With our love for sugar, many are turning to artificial sweeteners in hopes of reducing calorie intake while still getting that fix for highly sweetened foods.
While zero calories sounds like an excellent swap, artificial sweeteners are very potent, between 200 and 600 times sweeter than sugar. They can overstimulate your taste buds and make healthy foods like fruit and vegetables seem less appealing and bland in comparison.
Artificial sweeteners may also affect your hormones, cause more cravings and slow down your metabolism which can lead to weight gain. They’ve also been linked to feeling hungrier, eating more than you need and may contribute to diabetes.
So what should you do with so much added sugar in our foods and artificial sweeteners linked to health consequences? Here are my prescriptions:
1. Sugar is ok to eat it in limited amounts. Changing your lifestyle and eating a healthy diet 80% of the time can lower your cravings for sugary foods.
2. Cut back on packaged foods. Added sugar is found in roughly 80 percent of grocery store products so check food labels before buying.
3. When you need something sweet, chose naturally sweet foods like whole fruits. And add flavor to foods with spices like cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg or lemon.
4. If you still want to use sugar substitutes, moderation is key. Sugar-free foods can still have calories and cause weight gain if you eat too many.
It’s important to minimize sugar and artificial sweeteners in your diet because both are addictive. So follow my prescriptions and get your taste buds used to eating healthy foods again.
Be creative and find healthy recipes to cook at home as this will help you cut a lot of added sugar out of your diet.