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How to cut down on refined sugars

You’re watching your weight and want to cut down on calories, but you have a sweet tooth, can’t stomach coffee without sugar and dream about chocolate. What to do, oh, what to do! While people used to believe that eating fat-free products were the key to getting slimmer, sugar isn’t blameless when it comes to weight gain, tooth decay and diabetes. Refined sugar refers to processed or man-made sugar, which is less healthy than natural sugars and complex carbohydrates. Here are some ways to cut down on refined sugars even if you have a sweet tooth.

Sugar

Read labels carefully

Sometimes sugar comes in different names. Some “no sugar added” products claim to not have sugar but then list ingredients like “dextrose,” “corn syrup” and “cane juice” among many other things that are actually sugar. On the other hand, seeing sugar as an ingredient does not have to be completely bad, depending on what you’re eating. So if the sugar gram count on the nutritional label of your bran or whole-grain cereal is low (under 8 grams per serving), don’t fret it too much.

Opt for whole wheat instead of the white stuff

Your body digests and treats white bread and pasta as it would a refined sugar. Opt for whole-grain or whole-wheat bread and pasta as well as brown rice instead of its white counterparts, and save yourself some calories while gaining many health benefits!

Eat fruit instead

Natural sugars from fruit are healthier and a much better alternative than refined sugars. The next time you find yourself craving a brownie or chocolate bar, opt for a juicy orange, mango, some watermelon, berries or whatever your favourite fruit is. You’ll satisfy your sweet tooth without the guilt. For an extra-special treat, try mashing half a banana, mixing it with a teaspoon or two of natural peanut butter, then sprinkling it with some cinnamon — tastes as good as a brownie!

Use sweetener if you must

If you still need to add some sugar in your diet or to have a soft drink from time to time, using a low- or no-calorie sweetener sparingly is better than actual sugar. Opt for a diet Coke instead of the classic, sugar-full one. When you buy your favourite flavoured latte, ask for the sugar-free flavoured syrup instead of the regular one. Use a sweetener like Splenda or stevia in your coffee instead of actual sugar to cut on the calories.

Be sensible

Sugar is hard to avoid, but it’s not impossible. However, this doesn’t have to mean that treating yourself once in a while to your favourite dessert is completely off limits. If you’re going to have that piece of cake one day, try to cut out sugar on the other days. Exercising is also a great way to burn calories and use the energy from the carbohydrates and sugar that you eat. It’s all about balance!

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