Focus on wellness: Sugar overload

Do you ever get home at the end of a hard day's work and immediately reach for something sweet? If you're having this kind of sugar craving, it could be a sign that you're not getting enough of other, healthier foods in your diet. November is American Diabetes Month and the perfect time to look into cutting back on your sugar intake. Check out these tips:

Read the ingredients labels on foods and drinks. Instead of looking at the grams of sugar on a nutrition facts label, consider the ingredients. Because some foods have natural sugars, such as fruit and milk, the grams on a nutrition label can be misleading. You need to be more concerned about the added sugars you eat. Some of the words to look for on the ingredients label are sugar, corn syrup/corn syrup solids, high-fructose corn syrup, syrup, honey, nectar, molasses, sucrose, dextrose, fructose, and maltose.

Rethink your drink. Often, drinks that sound healthy are packed with sugar. You should always check the ingredients labels on drinks, including sports drinks, teas, coffees, and flavored waters.

Make simple swaps by adding fruit. Eating right doesn't have to be all or nothing. If you're craving something sweet, try swapping what you're dreaming of for a healthier version. Adding fruit to foods can be an easy way to get the sweetness while adding nutrients. Here are just a few ideas.

  • Instead of sugary cereal, try a high-fiber cereal and add bananas, peaches, or other fruit.
  • Instead of flavored yogurt, try nonfat plain Greek yogurt and add berries.
  • Instead of a sports drink, try iced water with slices of orange, lemon, or lime.
  • Instead of jelly, try bananas in your sandwich.

Small changes like these can make a big difference in the amount of sugar you consume by the end of the day.

Sources: U.S. Department of Agriculture's ChooseMyPlate website and How to Cut Down on Sugar.

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