Sugar is a central ingredient to many of the popular foods we enjoy these days. Candy bars, ice cream, lattes, the list goes on. While it can add an undeniable sweetness that can brighten or round out a dish, it’s also one of the prime culprits in weight gain. To make matters worse, too much sugar in your diet, along with other factors, can eventually lead to diabetes. If you do have diabetes, watching your sugar intake and blood sugar levels is essential to your long-term health.

Preventing your sugar levels from becoming an issue is one of the easiest ways you can improve your diet, combat weight gain, and lower your risk of diabetes. And, that doesn’t mean you must have a tasteless diet. Today, we’ll actually be looking at a few ways you can lower your sugar intake without missing out on the sweetness!

Drink Less Soda

Drinking soda is one of the easiest ways you can overindulge in sugar without noticing it. In fact, multiple studies have found that sugary beverages like soda are the single largest source of added sugars and calories in the American diet. Most soft drinks average around eight to 13 teaspoons of sugar in a 12 oz. can. That’s around the entire recommended teaspoon allowance of sugar suggested by American Heart Association for men (nine teaspoons) and almost double that for women (five teaspoons). So, if one can is more than enough sugar, imagine if you have multiple. This is why finding a healthier alternative to soda, like flavored sparkling waters or teas, can go a long way to preventing overindulgence in sugar. Keep in mind that diet sodas may not have sugar, but they’re still not great for you, so try better options first.

Skip Sugary Creamers in Coffee

Another way that sugar can creep into your diet is through your morning coffee. We’re not just talking about people who add a tablespoon of sugar to their coffee or double-mint mocha lattes each morning. For many, the real issue will be the sugary creamers added to smooth out the taste and remove some of the bitterness of a harsh dark roast coffee. That smoothness comes with a cost.

One popular coffee creamer, for example, contains about five grams of sugar (one teaspoon) per tablespoon. Keep in mind that the usual serving size is two tablespoons, which gives you two-fifths of your daily sugar intake if you’re a woman — two-ninths of that if you’re a man — all for one cup of coffee. Luckily, you can replace creamer with 2% milk (1.4 grams for 2 tablespoons) or half & half (less than .1 gram for 2 tablespoons), both of which have less sugar than creamer. Don’t worry about missing out on the flavor that you’d otherwise get from creamer. We’ve got an article all about healthy additions to make to your coffee that are good for you and delicious!

Try Healthier Alternatives to Sugary Snacks

This may seem obvious, but if you’re cutting out sugary drinks and additions to your coffee like coffee creamer, the next biggest change you can make is to eliminate sugary snacks and replace them with healthier alternatives. At the Shop & Enroll blog, we have an entire series of articles that proves you can enjoy your favorite treats without breaking your diet. You can find and make healthier versions of potato chips, party favors, hot wings, and more. Our write-up on healthier alternatives to ice cream, Christmas cookies, and eggnog!

Ease Out of Sugar

Sometimes, making the big jump to sugar-free or no-added sugar is tough, especially if you’ve got a particularly strong sweet tooth. That’s okay, what’s important is that you’re working toward a healthier diet. In the beginning, simply try to cut back on how much sugar you take in. For example, only have one cola a day, instead of two or three. Or, you could try using some milk alongside of creamer in your coffee and snacking on more fruits instead of candy. The point is to gradually work your way into a healthier amount of sugar in your diet. This can help make these changes more sustainable in the long run.

Be Mindful

Each of these tips all fall into the general category of being more mindful with the foods you eat. This is a good suggestion for anyone looking to start or maintain a healthier diet, weight loss, or portion control. Paying attention to how many sugary snacks you’re eating or reading the nutritional facts about foods before you eat them can really help you monitor and understand how much sugar you’re indulging in. While it may not be necessary to monitor your sugar intake down to the micrograms, if you know the suggested amounts for a day and keep your sugar intake within that range, you’ll be making a great start!

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Diets can help you make a change, but if you’re more aware of what you’re putting into your body, you’ll be in a much better place to make smart, healthy choices. Now that we know how bad overindulging in sugar can be for our bodies, monitoring and lessening the amount of sugar we eat is a great goal to strive for. Even if you’re not currently doubling your daily recommended total, we all could probably use a little less sugar.