How to Cut Back on a World Full of Sugar

Halloween is just the beginning.

You’ll have all the trick-or-treat candy. And even if you don’t, the post-holiday candy sales will be staring you right in the face.

You might have a week or two of smoother sailing after that, but then Thanksgiving rears its head, with pumpkin pie and tons of carbs. After that, it seems like nothing but an ocean of cookie-laden office parties and family holidays until Christmas rolls around.

But then, finally, you’re fre—oh wait, nope. Don’t forget New Year’s!

There is no doubt we live in a sugar-happy culture. Consuming too much can have negative effects on our health in several ways.

Diabetes is the first condition people tend to think of when it comes to the consequences of sugar, and it is true that a sugar-heavy diet increases that risk. But that’s not the only potential problem! Heart disease, obesity, and gout are also potential risks, among others.

And since these conditions can have big impacts on your foot health, sugar intake becomes a concern of ours.

We’re not saying you must eliminate sugar from your diet entirely. There should always be at least a little bit of sweetness in life, after all. But any steps we can take to reduce excess sugar can be a big help for your feet and overall health in the long run.

Where to start? That depends on you.

IMPORTANT NOTE: The tips below should only be taken as general guidelines on reducing sugar from a standard diet. If you have received recommendations from your doctor regarding your diet, they will always take priority over any other advice.

Make Better Drink Choices

It is astounding how much sugar we can ingest without even having to chew!

The amount of added sugar in many of our beverages can really add up. A 20 oz. bottle of soda can contain around 14 teaspoons. That’s about 420 teaspoons a month on a bottle-per-day habit!

On average, it is recommended we consume about 6-9 teaspoons of added sugar per day. Yikes.

Switching your drink choices is a great way to get a lot of extra sugar out of your diet. Water is the best option (basic requirement of life and all), but we know that isn’t the most exciting. Sugar-free flavor enhancers do exist and might be worth a try.

Additional options that are better for you when it comes to sugar intake include:

  • Tea
  • Coffee
  • Milk
  • Diet or zero-sugar sodas

Tea and coffee would be best unsweetened, of course. However, you at least have control over the amount of sugar you’re putting in if you sweeten them. Also, be wary of fruit juices (where excess sweeteners can hide).

Choose (and Use) Your Fruits Wisely

Fruits have natural sugars, which are better than added ones. Still, the way they come packaged can bring on more sugar than intended.

When going for fruits, opt for those that are fresh, frozen, or dried. Canned can also be OK, but check out what the fruit is swimming in. Avoid fruits that are canned in syrup; especially the heavy kind. If the can does contain syrup or juice, drain and rinse to get rid of excess.

Fruit makes a good sugar substitute for topping your oatmeal, and can help you cut back on added sugars from syrup on pancakes. Find your favorite ways to sneak fruit in where added sugars would otherwise roost.

Doctor Your Recipes

Recipes aren’t always an absolute. You’d be surprised what you can get away with and still have your masterpieces come out great!

Experiment with cutting sugar back in baked goods, such as cookies and brownies. In some cases, you can cut the recommended sugar by up to half without any real difference in taste.

Sugar can also be replaced with other items. Extracts can be used as a substitute and add a different kick of flavor to an item. You can also substitute unsweetened applesauce for sugar in many recipes, 1:1.

Work Away from Sugar Gradually

If you find cutting sugar to be difficult, don’t be hard on yourself. Our bodies acclimate to higher sugar intakes, and it can be challenging to make a shift away from that.

Give yourself time to wean away from sugar, if possible. You will have more success gradually reducing your sugar intake in various items than by going cold turkey. This will provide you more opportunity to adjust to the differing tastes of things and more time for your body to reacclimate.

What this looks like can differ from person to person. If you put two spoons of sugar in your coffee each day, reduce that by half a spoonful per week until you’re at half a spoonful. You might even venture toward none at that point, or try a new additive such as cinnamon instead.

Little shifts over time can make a big impact without that drastic shock that kills so many attempts at change. Give yourself the slack that you need to make a difference.

Your Feet Will Thank You

Even when sugar isn’t directly tempting you, it’s hidden in a lot of foods you might not expect. Reading labels and making positive choices over time will be your best tools in reducing your overall consumption.

Even if it feels difficult at times, the reduced risks of heart disease, poor circulation, and nerve damage will be a blessing to your feet—as well as the rest of you!

If you have any questions about the best ways to protect your feet from certain conditions, or have a condition in need of treatment, simply give Sierra Foot & Ankle a call at (775) 783-8037. We’ll be happy to schedule an appointment with you!

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