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How to Reduce Added Sugars in Your Diet

Everyone knows to avoid too much candy or soda, but what about added sugars in everyday food? Often, the amount of sugars in certain food products are simply overlooked. From sweetened breakfast cereals, fruit flavored yogurts, packaged oatmeal and even condiments, it is easy to consume more sugar than desired without even thinking about it!

Reducing added sugar is important especially for athletes who desire steady energy levels throughout the day rather than serious blood sugar spikes, to which added sugars might contribute.

According to the 2015 Dietary Guidelines, Americans should consume less than 10% of their daily calories from added sugars. For the typical 2,000-calorie diet, this is 48 grams. Here are some tips to stay under the recommended amount of added sugar per day.

Look at labels

At the grocery store, check the nutrition label for ingredients such as high fructose corn syrup, sugar, cane juice or syrup and/or sucrose. Look for products that do not contain these sweeteners whenever possible, and especially avoid products that have these listed on the label in the first 5 ingredients.

Make simple changes

Reduce the amount of sugar added to coffee, tea, smoothies, baked goods or anything else that regularly contributes to overall added sugar consumption. Add mashed banana or unsweetened apple sauce as a sugar replacement. Purchase unsweetened products such as greek yogurt and oatmeal, and add honey or fruit to sweeten them.

Form healthier habits

If sweets are used as a reward for hard work, replace the sweet treat with a non-food reward such as watching a movie or buying a new piece of clothing. Save the sweet treats for special occasions and holidays, and they will taste even better!

Low Sugar Energy Bites

Ingredients:

1 cup rolled oats

½ cup unsweetened nut butter

2/3 cup unsweetened coconut flakes

½ cup ground flax seed

½ cup unsweetened chocolate chips

1 tbsp chia seeds

½ cup chopped dates

Directions:

  1. Combine flax seeds, chia seeds and chopped dates in a food processor and blend until smooth.
  2. Add remaining ingredients to a large bowl and mix with the wet ingredients.
  3. Put mixture into the refrigerator for 1-2 hours.
  4. Rolled chilled mixture into balls and store in refrigerator.

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Ashley Acornley, MS, RD, LDN is sports dietitian at Triangle Nutrition Therapy Inc  She has an undergraduate degree in  Kinesiology  and a Masters degree in nutrition.  In addition to being a Sports Dietitian, she is also a Personal Trainer.  She teaches competitive athletes ways to fuel and hydrate to optimize sports performance and maximize health.