Like most nutritional news that actually has research to back it up, the latest news on sugar is probably something don’t want to hear: it’s really, really bad for you. A new Katie Couric-produced and narrated documentary called “Fed Up“ (up for release May 9) analyzes the sweeping obesity epidemic in America and comes up with a rather unfortunate conclusion: it’s sugar, not fat, that’s making everyone so unhealthy.
Another startling finding: The disastrous effects of sugar on human health aren’t only limited to those who are obese. Of people who are suffering from diet-related diseases, only 30% of them are technically obese; the remaining 70% are people who seem slim, fit, and healthy, but are battling the same devastating illnesses as those who are obese. The culprit: sugar.
In the spirit of trying to cut down on sugar—while the challenge to suppress our love for things like cupcakes, cookies, and even things that secretly pack loads of sugar like ketchup and other condiments is already tough enough—we’ve come up with five easy ways to cut down on the substance without completely abolishing it (along with all joy) from your life. Read on!
1. Halve the amount of sugar in your coffee or tea each morning.
If you normally take your cup of coffee or tea with 2 teaspoons (or pumps, in Starbucks lingo) of sugar, try it with just one. If you normally take one, try it with one half. And if you’re really feeling daring, cut it out completely; you might be able to get used to the sugar-free taste more quickly than you’d think.
2. Replace soda with seltzer and a splash of fresh juice.
If you’re a fan of full-sugar soda, instead of reaching for Diet Coke (as much as we love it too, it has negative, chemical-filled health effects of its own), make your own soda by mixing seltzer water with fresh juice. You can either squeeze your own juice–we’re a huge fan of abundant amounts of lemon and lime in our seltzer–or you can buy fruit juice from the grocery store. Just be sure to reach for labels that say 100% juice.
3. Toss the ice cream.
Here’s the toughest suggestion we’ve got: Toss the ice cream. Many brands are filled with added sugar, often packing in 14 grams in a half- cup serving. Simply have to have that ice-cold dessert? In this day and age, plenty of supermarkets and specialty stores offer a variety of sugar-free (or low-sugar) frozen treats, which still pack in a hefty amount of calories, so make it an occasional splurge.
4. Keep a little bowl in your cabinet and use it to measure your desserts.
If you’re treating yourself, it’s key to pay attention to portion control. Buy a miniature bowl specifically designated as your “treat” bowl, and make sure your splurges fit inside. These miniature latte bowls from Anthropologie are adorable, and they hold no more than 3 o.z., which is roughly the size of your palm.
5. When cooking, replace sugar with applesauce or pureed prunes instead.
If you’re a baker, or even if you’re home-cooking something like spaghetti sauce, you’ll notice that many recipes call for an abundance of sugar. Try using sugar-free applesauce or pureed prunes instead; you probably won’t even notice a difference in taste, and both ingredients offer up much healthier sugars than classic granulated white sugar.