You don’t add sugar to your coffee and you don’t bake so you don’t need to worry about added sugar, right? Wrong. Added sugar lurks in nearly 70 percent of packaged foods and is found in breads, health foods, snacks, yogurts, most breakfast foods and sauces. Monitoring added sugar is important because we already get naturally occurring sugars in dairy and fruit. According to Dr. Robert Lustig, a pediatric endocrinologist, women should have no more than 16 grams of added sugar daily, while men can have 24 grams (4 tsp and 6 tsp respectively). If you are already getting your naturally occurring sugar, which let’s face it, you are, it’s crucial to your health to cut out added sugar found elsewhere in your diet.

What’s so bad about sugar?

For starters, sugar has no nutritional value. More importantly, it has deleterious effects on your blood sugar, makes it difficult to regulate hunger and sugar can increase your chances of heart disease.

Sugar is bad for you if you have diabetes or a diabetes-related condition — lets say high blood fat levels — because ingesting sugar will increase your blood sugar and your triglycerides, which is a risk factor for heart disease.

Some kinds of added sugar are more insidious than others. Consider sugar-sweetened drinks like sodas, juices and sweet teas that are loaded with fructose. Did you know excessive fructose consumption may cause resistance to leptin, an important hormone that regulates hunger and tells your body to stop eating?

In addition, obesity, which is often caused by consuming too much sugar, is considered the strongest risk factor for diabetes.

What’s more, prolonged high-sugar consumption drives resistance to insulin, a hormone produced by the pancreas that regulates blood sugar levels.

Insulin resistance causes blood sugar levels to rise and strongly increases your risk of diabetes.

Even more negative health effects associated with sugar intake can be seen here.

5 Steps to Take to Cut Added Sugar

1) Focus on eating whole, unprocessed foods since this will drastically decrease the amount of sugar in your diet. If it’s in a box or bag, avoid it. Stay on the perimeter of the grocery store and if temptation is particularly strong, we suggest using a service like King Soopers Pickup to preselect your items and have them unloaded into your car. This way you won’t be tempted to stray while you’re shopping.

2) Drink water, unsweetened tea, soda water, and unsweetened seltzers.

3) Make your own sauces.Store bought tomato sauce and marinara are chock full of sugar. Sub these for diced tomatoes in a can, if the fresh ones are looking less than satisfactory, and you can add oregano and rosemary.

4) Store bought salad dressings are loaded with added sugar. Use olive oil and vinegar or make your own low sugar dressing. May we suggest an apple cider vinegar dressing?

5) Get to know the other names for sugar. You have already hear of sucrose and fructose but do you know there are 56 other names for sugar? Be able to spot them so if you have to eat something prepackaged or processed, you can be sure there is no added sugar in it. You might even want to print them and bring them to the store.

What happens when you give up added sugar for 30 days? Read this author’s account and consider if you’re looking for similar results.

Healthful Life MD understands that cutting added sugar is not as simple as reading a blog post. You need reinforcements in the way of a meal plan and expert advice that we our nutritional experts on staff can offer. When you begin your journey with Healthful Life MD, our medical doctor will evaluate, monitor and follow-up on health conditions like diabetes to ensure that your weight loss program is customized and compassionate. To find out more, schedule a call so we can discuss how our program can help you cut added sugar, gain more energy and start living your life instead of reacting to it.