#1: Eliminate All Processed Foods
Something like 99 percent of processed and packaged foods contain added sugar. This makes removing them the first line of defense if you want to reduce your sugar intake. Opt for whole foods: Organic meat, dairy, fish, nuts, seeds, beans, vegetables, and fruit.
#2: Read All Food Labels
In the rare cases when you can’t stay away from packaged foods, check the ingredient list for all of the following incarnations of sugar: Evaporated cane juice, high-fructose corn syrup, corn syrup, beet sugar, brown rice syrup, agave, honey, molasses, brown sugar, and fruit juice concentrates.
#3: Start By Limiting Sugar Intake to 100 Calories a Day
If you are a sugar junkie and can’t fathom the idea of going cold turkey, start by cutting back. Shoot for 100 calories a day, which is equal to about 25 grams a day or 6.5 teaspoons.
#4: Avoid All Sweetened Beverages
Avoid all sweetened soda, tea, sports drinks, energy drinks, etc. There is compelling evidence that sweetened beverages are linked to accelerated fat gain and diabetes because liquid sugars are turned into fat very quickly and alter insulin sensitivity.
#5: Avoid Fruit Juice
Most fruit juices have a whopping dose of added sugar. Even if they are pure fruit juice, they will have the fiber removed, which means the body treats the sugar they provide just like soda, spiking blood sugar and raising insulin. Any excess calories are quickly stored as fat—often in the organs and abdominal area.
#6: Minimize Fructose Intake
Save your fructose intake for fruit and vegetables and avoid all other forms. Fruits and vegetables are high in fiber, vitamins, and antioxidants, making them an important part of your diet. Lower fructose foods include most berries, nectarines, grapefruit, avocado and tomatoes. Bananas, apples, and pears are on the high end of the scale.
#7: Don’t Add Sugar To Foods or Beverages
If you currently drink tea or coffee with added sugar, stop.
#8: Accept that There Is No Healthy Sugar
The idea of “healthier” sweeteners is a myth. For example, agave syrup is often recommended as an alternative sweetener but in reality it is one of the unhealthiest sweeteners because it is highly refined and has an even higher fructose content (88 percent) than high-fructose corn syrup!
#9: Monitor Carb Intake
Whole foods such as vegetables, grains, fruit, and dairy naturally contain carbohydrates, which turn into sugar (also known as glucose) in the body. Once you get a handle on your added sugar intake, start monitoring carb intake for better blood sugar management. Start by reading nutrition labels (or checking online for whole foods) to find out how many grams of sugar are in the food. For example, you’ll notice that grains, such as rice have a much higher carb content than leafy greens.
#10: Enjoy Stevia in Moderation
Stevia is a natural non-caloric sweetener that comes from the South American stevia bush. It is metabolized via the kidneys and liver and instead of causing an insulin release like other sweeteners, stevia improves blood sugar tolerance. This makes it a great tool for everyone who wants to avoid sugar and it’s safe for diabetics. Don’t eat huge quantities because large doses haven’t been tested by science.
Read more about sugar in Is Sugar More Trouble Than It’s Worth.