Nutritionists Top Tips for Skimming Sugar

Trimming sugar from the diet is on everyone’s radar these days. In fact, surveys show that it’s one of the top ingredients in foods that people are trying to avoid. Eating too much added sugar—for example, sucrose, high fructose corn syrup, cane sugar, and honey—is linked with metabolic and cardiovascular health problems. So, I asked some of my favorite dietitians to weigh in with their best tips for helping you skim the sweet stuff from your diet. Get ready to be inspired with these top tips for skimming sugar!

Nutritionists Top Tips for Skimming Sugar

Save your sweets for a small portion of modestly sweetened foods, like a fruit sorbet, every once in awhile.

1. Become familiar with the sneakier sources of sugar. “Products like jarred pasta sauce, whole grain bread, natural peanut butter, and commercial salad dressings are great examples. Reading and comparing nutrition facts and ingredient lists can be eye-opening!” says Michelle Loy, MPH, MS, RDN, CSSD, Go Wellness Co.

Sweetened beverages can be the leading source of sugars in your diet.

2. Familiarize yourself with the many names for sugar. “Just because an ingredient list doesn’t list “sugar”, it’s good to recognize that items can still contain a lot of sugar under different names, such a HFCS, fruit juice concentrates, molasses, corn sweetener, syrup; sugar molecules ending in ‘-ose’ dextrose, fructose, glucose, lactose, maltose, sucrose; honey, malt; Florida crystals, caramel, panocha,” says Nikki Nies, MS, RDN.

Watch for added sugars in the pastry case: muffins, scones, coffeecakes, and more.

3. Go real. “My biggest, simplest tip: Eat real food. Avoid processed foods. And give it at least 2 to 3 weeks. Research suggests your taste buds will adapt, much like they do with adjusting salt in your diet, so that less sugar will be satisfying if you give it enough time,” says Diane Norwood, RDN, The Wandering RD.

Let the natural sweeteners in fruits be your go-to dessert; these sugars are not harmful.

4. Use natural sweetness. “I use chopped dates, raisins or cranberries in oatmeal and plain yogurt parfait to cut the added sugar I might use. I also cut the sugar in quick breads by 1/4 to 1/3 and also add some fruit for natural sweetness. Cinnamon and other spices add perceived sweetness without sugar,” says Bridget Swinney MS, RD Author and Blogger at Eat Right Mama.

Red Raspberry Crumble Bars are low in sugar and high in flavor.

5. Reduce the amount of sugar in a recipe. “I usually make treats and desserts with one-fourth less sugar than called for, and find this doesn’t affect the texture. It takes a little while to accommodate your taste buds, but you quickly adapt. Now, when I go out to eat dessert, or purchase something pre-made, it usually tastes way too sweet to me,” says EA Stewart, RDN, The Spicy RD.

Try some low-sugar baked goods, such as this Summer Fruit Skillet Cobbler.

6. Fruit is the best sweetener around. “I recommend people use their own fruit to add sweetness to dishes such as oatmeal and yogurt, instead of adding sugar or purchasing sweetened varieties. If fresh fruit doesn’t add enough sweetness for someone, I recommend they try heating and defrosting frozen berries (with berries being the only ingredient in the frozen berry), since defrosted frozen berries get syrupy and add a lot of sweetness,” says Linzy Ziegelbaum, MS, RD, CDN, LNZ Nutrition.

Check out the following blogs on healthy, plant-based living here:

7 Steps to Go Plant-Based
3 Super Strategies for Making Plant-Based Easy
The Path to a Healthy Vegan Diet

Image: Easy Chocolate Chia Pudding with Strawberries, Sharon Palmer, MSFS, RDN