Hi friends! I wanted to do something a little different today. I’ve been meaning to write up this post for a while now, but it hasn’t quite happened until now. My goal here on Fit Mitten Kitchen is to not only provide you with healthy recipes using quality ingredients, but to also inspire you to make healthy changes in your diet. This first post is about SUGAR. Sugar is in SO many processed and packaged foods these days, and chances are it wouldn’t hurt to take a look at how we could possibly reduce our sugar intake.
Some of you here already know all of these tips on ways to reduce your sugar intake. But for any health foodie newbies out there, or people that are looking to change some of their eating habits, or someone who is just looking for a fresh start, I hope you can take away something new from this post! While these are just suggestions, I do personally practice these on a daily/weekly basis! So please feel free to comment or reach out to me with any questions. 🙂
Now for some of you, these tips may not be so easy, at least on the surface. And just so we’re all on the same page, I didn’t always used to eat the way I do now. It has been a gradual change over the last couple years. Completely changing your diet around takes TIME. I know when I first started looking at cutting back my sugar intake, I sought out the “recommended” grams of sugar I was allowed on a daily basis. Somewhere along my research I settled on 40 grams of added sugar. It didn’t sound too bad, until I started adding up all the sugar in the foods I was consuming at that time. That was roughly about 6 years ago. I was still in college, trying to “be healthy” by eating “healthier” cereals, granola bars, Tropical Smoothie Café was my favorite, vanilla yogurt, low fat coffee creamer, etc. (I cringe even writing “low fat” but I’ll get into that on another day…)
What I realized when I started adding up my daily grams of sugar was that it was going to be a lot harder than I thought. Back then I didn’t think to cut out cereal, it was one of my favorite “anytime foods”. Kashi Go Lean Berry Crumble was one of my favs! But at 11 grams of sugar per ¾ cup, and adding vanilla yogurt with about 20 grams per 6oz, I was already over ¾ of my way through my daily sugar allowance, and it wasn’t even lunch time. Yikes!
Now, fast forward 6 years and the recommended grams of added sugar has been almost cut in half: 25 grams of added sugar for women, and 36 grams of added sugar for men. Now this probably sounds like downright crazy-talk, but I promise its not as bad as it seems! With a little bit of effort and re-engineering your thinking, cutting back your sugars is totally doable. I’m not going to lie to you, if you’re still eating a diet high in processed foods, this will be TOUGH. But it just takes TIME and a little bit of effort to re-adjust how to approach your sugar intake. We’ll get to “eating clean” and how to cut back on processed foods another day! 😉
For now, here are some simple ideas for ways you can reduce your sugar intake >>>
1. PLAIN YOGURT TUBS
>> Swap those flavored yogurt containers for the big tub of plain. The plain yogurt may taste a little tart at first, so try adding a teaspoon of honey or ½ cup of fresh fruit (each being only about 6 grams of sugar, depending on the choice of fruit). With those changes, you go from about 20 grams of added sugar in your flavored yogurt, down to less than 10 grams of natural sugars. (I prefer Greek which has a thicker texture and a boost of extra protein)
2. HOMEMADE GRANOLA/NUT BARS
>> Swap store-bought granola bars for homemade. If you’re like me and rely on plenty of snacks to get you through the day, this one will totally be worth the little bit of extra effort to reduce that sugar intake. Pre-packaged granola bars and granola cereal can be LOADED with sugar. Yes, even the ones that “look” healthy. But don’t let marketing & food packaging fool you! With making your own granola or granola nut bars, not only do you get to choose the ingredients (always a big advocate of educating yourself on what you’re putting into your body) but you’ll also be saving some money! Here is a great granola/nut bar I’ve made before from Ambitious Kitchen.
>> Are you a granola cereal lover? For those non-bakers out there, I promise this recipe is so easy! And so worth it. The beauty of making your own granola at home is YOU control how much sweetener you add, not to mention what kind. One of my favorite granola recipe’s I’ve made so far comes from Sally’s Baking Addiction.
3. UNSWEETENED NON-DAIRY MILKS
>> Drinking non-dairy milks seems to be a cool trend these days… But have you checked the nutrition label on the “Original” or “Vanilla” options? Those contain added sugar. In Silk non-dairy milks, there can be 7 grams of added sugar in Original and 12 grams of added sugar in Vanilla, compared to 0 grams of sugar in Unsweetened. For everyday drinking, I definitely opt for the Unsweetened! But if I am looking for an indulgent treat, a post-workout drink, or making frozen healthy treats, the Chocolate and Vanilla make for great options. Silk just put out a new nut milk, Cashew Milk, which is totally winning me over! I’m also a fan of the Almond Coconut Blend, both available in Unsweetened! 😉
4. MAKE YOUR OWN SALAD DRESSING
>> I know store-bought salad dressings are super convenient and all… but have you LOOKED at the ingredient labels on those things? Kraft, Wishbone, Ken’s… they are all culprits unfortunately. And really making your own requires so little effort. Check out this super simple salad dressing recipe from Fit Foodie Finds, for example.
>> And if you don’t feel like looking up a recipe, find a quality extra virgin olive oil, maybe some balsamic or rice vinegar, and play around with seasonings. It’s THAT simple. Sometimes for single serve dressing to go along with a taco salad, I’ll just mix together 2 tablespoons of mashed avocado, a tablespoon of greek yogurt, and 2 tablespoons of salsa. So simple, quick, and no added sugars!!
5. MAKE YOUR OWN TRAIL MIX
>> Naturally, you’d think trail mix is healthy because you’re eating healthy fats from the nuts and dried fruit. But have you ever looked at the ingredient labels on your generic brand of trail mix? More often than not, the nuts have been roasted in oils and the fruit dried with added sugar. Trail mix can be so much healthier when you make your own! All you need to do is pick up your favorite nuts, dry, roasted, raw, etc. And add dried fruit (those without added sugars), maybe some seeds, and chocolate, if your heart so desires. 😉 Here is a great step-by-step guide from The Healthy Maven!
So that’s that then! As I mentioned before, I really do practice these day-to-day! Except I will occasionally indulge in individual yogurts every now and then… especially when it is Siggi’s and they are on sale. 😉
Hope you all are having a great week so far! Heading to Toronto this weekend to meet up with our Canadians and watch the Tigers destroy the Bluejays! 😉
YOUR TURN >> What other ways do you look to cut back on your sugar intake? What has helped you take a positive approach to changing your diet?
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