Excess sugar consumption is quite a problem nowadays for almost everyone, regardless of their weight. Associated in one form or another with various illnesses, processed sugar has become an ‘evil’ ingredient we are advised to stay away from. But with so many sweet temptations around us and many frequent urges to satisfy our sweet tooth, this simple recommendation is certainly hard to follow. And, while some fortunate souls have the discipline necessary to go cold turkey and satisfy their cravings with natural sugars found in fruit only, most people do best if they make a change gradually. Here are a few simple tips on how to improve your sugar consumption habits gradually:

Aim to consume no more than 40 grams of added sugar daily. To be able to decrease your consumption you should get in the habit of checking labels carefully, not only to be able to find out how many grams per portion a certain product has, but also to be able to better asses the nutritional qualities of a certain product.

Aside from high fructose corn syrup you should also keep an eye on terms such as galactose, sorghum, sucrose, mannitol, sorbitol, dextrin, dextrose. Try avoiding products that have sugar within the first three ingredients if playing detective seems too time consuming.

Cut back on soda. Often called ‘liquid candy’, soda is a major source of empty calories and unnecessary sugar intake. Reducing your intake on a daily basis is a great first step that can help you make a positive change. However, finding substitutes is also important as in absence of substitutes it can be easy to go back to old habits. Good substitutes include homemade lemonade, homemade sun tea, club soda or seltzer.

Increase your intake of complex carbohydrates. Consuming several sweets on a daily basis makes it easy to meet your recommended daily calorie intake often in a single meal, without actually satisfying hunger. Increasing your intake of complex carbohydrates such as whole grains, brown rice and legumes can help you keep hunger at bay and can provide steady levels of energy while also decreasing cravings.

Establish rules for sugary treats. Creating your own rules when it comes to sugary treats can work better then swearing off them completely as it reduces the feeling of deprivation and it helps you create a suitable plan that works with your lifestyle, not against it. You might decide to pick one day for sweet indulgences, eat sweets only during weekends or whatever works for you and seems doable.

Splurge only on favorites. When surrounded by sweet goodies it can be easy to be tempted to taste everything even if you don’t like certain desserts. By giving up indulgences that don’t give you a lot of satisfaction, you can slash calories effortlessly. In addition, make sure to bring as little temptation as possible in your home and make it inaccessible.

Eat more fruits and try natural sweeteners. Fruits are naturally sweet and are loaded with a lot of essential nutrients, vitamins and antioxidants. Plus, since most have a high water percentage, they are low in calories too. Using natural sweeteners is also useful as it enables you to get the sweet you crave for with additional benefits.

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