(Editor’s note: This is the second installment in a series of articles on eating healthy without dieting.)
Processed sugar. Sugar is sneaky. It’s in just about everything we consume.
The average person needs 25-30 grams of sugar a day. Basically, that’s a can of Coca-Cola, glass of sweet tea or a couple of cookies. With excess sugar intake comes excess calories, leading to weight gain or type II diabetes. It’s possible to cut back on sugar intake simply by changing what you drink.
Avoid high sugar foods like candy, donuts, cookies, ice cream and pastries, etc. There is nothing wrong with splurging every now and then on these foods. But try to limit them to the good stuff made with real ingredients that are actually worth the calories — not processed items that usually don’t taste as good anyway.
If you’re eating something with a food label, check the amount of sugar in that item. Foods with more than 10-15 grams of sugar may not be worth consuming. I recommend “saving” your sugars for the foods you really want.
For example, I really love milk. Milk has the natural sugar (lactose) in it. I save a lot of my sugar during the day for that glass of milk I want at night.
Watch the amount of fruit you eat. Many people don’t consider the sugar content in fruit because it’s natural, but these sugars still count. Watch out for higher sugar fruits like bananas, grapes, pineapples and mangos.
Pay attention to smoothies. Smoothies are considered a healthy snack or meal replacement, but they can be loaded with sugar. If your smoothie recipe includes a banana, berries, apple juice and yogurt, you’re mostly getting sugar. Boost the nutrition and lower the sugar content by trying berries, low sugar almond milk, plain Greek yogurt and flax seeds.
Or try a scoop of protein powder, plain oats, low-fat milk and peanut butter for a smoothie with good carbs, fats and protein with little sugar.
Lainey Greer is a PhD student at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.