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woman choosing an apple over donutsThe New Year is upon us, which means millions of Americans are making resolutions. The most common goals are to exercise more, lose weight and be healthier. While there are many diets and workout programs to try, one thing we often overlook is sugar consumption.

Could added sugars be counteracting your healthy habits? Learn how you can cut back.

Dangers of Sugar

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, American should limit their intake of added sugars to less than 10 percent of their total daily calories. Yet, the average person consumes nearly 70 grams a day – that’s 60 pounds of added sugar per year!

High sugar intake can lead to serious health concerns, including heart disease, diabetes and obesity. What can you do to keep these “empty calories” out of your diet?

1. Watch What You Add

White sugar is commonly used to sweeten coffee or tea, yet too much processed sugar increases your risk of developing heart complications. Healthfully enhance the taste of these beverages with low-calorie sweeteners.

When it comes to food, many of us don’t think twice about using maple syrup, ketchup or barbeque sauce but these condiments are loaded with added sugars. Read food labels carefully or look for alternatives, like fruit on pancakes or yellow mustard on sandwiches.

2. Drink More Water

Cutting out soda and sports drinks is a surefire way to decrease your sugar intake. Regular consumption of these beverages increases risk of heart disease and certain cancers. Water is most healthy for our bodies but the taste can be bland; try adding fresh fruit slices as a natural flavor enhancer. If you miss carbonation, opt for zero-calorie flavored seltzer over diet soda.

3. Go Fresh & Natural

If you’re committed to eating healthier, fruits and vegetables should be a staple. Fresh or frozen varieties are often best, as canned items can be packed in heavy syrups. If you buy canned foods for convenience, look for fruits in their own juices or rinse off before eating. On the other hand, not all sugars are bad. Natural sugar in fruits and vegetables has little effect on blood sugar.

4. Shop the Perimeter

As a rule of thumb, never go to the grocery store on an empty stomach! You are more likely to grab processed foods for a “quick fix” to your hunger. To avoid temptation, shop the perimeter of the store – fresh produce, meat and dairy – and skip the center aisles. Processed foods on the shelf have more added sugar, salt, saturated fat and less nutritional value.

5. Reinvent Dessert

An indulgence doesn’t have to be chocolate or ice cream. In your own home, you create the dessert menu! Get rid of cookies and cakes for fruit, yogurt and lightened up favorites.

6. Make Substitutions

Other spices can add sweetness to food and beverages, including ground cinnamon, allspice and nutmeg. Compared to processed sugar, a little goes a long way!

7. Start the Day Right

Popular breakfast options tend to be sugary, including cereal, French toast and muffins. Try oatmeal or Greek yogurt with fruit, hard-boiled or scrambled eggs or avocado on whole grain toast, which all provide nutrients and keep you full. To curb snack cravings, ditch the granola and candy bars for unsalted nuts or fresh fruit and veggies.
 
Sugar tastes good in the moment but ultimately, the rush fades and you’re left feeling unsatiated. At Colony Diner, our extensive menu of gourmet salads, hearty breakfast dishes, vegan and gluten-free options are sure to hit the spot and provide energy. Visit our Wallingford restaurant today!