How to avoid added sugars

We know we shouldn't feed our children sugary foods too often, but do you know how much sugar is in common foods?

According to eatright.org, high added sugar intake is linked to dental cavities, obesity, type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

Clearly, limiting cookies and soda is a way to reduce sugar, but there are many foods that contain added sugar that might surprise you, including whole grain cereal, instant oatmeal, pasta sauce and condiments.

Additionally, on a nutrition label, sugar may appear as one of 50 different names such as cane juice, corn syrup and crystal solids.

Tips for Avoiding Added Sugars from EatRight.org

The first step in reducing your family's added sugar intake takes place in the grocery store. Scan labels for added sweeteners and, instead, fill your shopping cart with healthier options. Sally Kuzemchak, MS, RD, a blogger and mother of two, recommends reaching for naturally sweet foods. Her favorites? "Fruit! Lots of veggies are naturally sweet too, especially bell peppers, carrots and sugar snap peas," she says.

When it comes to beverages, Kuzemchak recommends water and milk. "Many other beverages have ingredients kids don't need, like caffeine, added sugar and artificial dyes or sweeteners," says Kuzemchak.

You can also reduce added sugar intake at home by cooking from scratch. By making your own granola, pasta sauce and condiments and serving homemade baked treats, you are in control of the ingredients used. "With baking recipes, I frequently cut the sugar with no negative effect to the recipe or to how much my family likes it," Kuzemchak says. "I usually start by cutting it by a quarter and go lower if possible."

One common source of added sugar is flavored yogurt. You can start reducing added sugar intake from yogurt by mixing half a serving of flavored yogurt with half a serving of plain, unsweetened yogurt. This trick works with cereal too. As your family's taste buds adjust, gradually use less and less of the sweetened varieties.

Make a healthy relationship with food the overall focus instead of a completely sugar-free diet. Encourage positive associations with foods such as fruits and vegetables by playing up their good qualities and fresh taste — and save the sweet stuff for special occasions.

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About the Author...
Liz Hayes
Liz loves spending time outdoors, working out, traveling, taking in the arts, reading and catching up on TV.
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