When it comes to finding our way through the diet landscape, which can feel like a maze, our biggest concern is sugar.
Sugar has always found its way into our meals, drinks, and even so-called “health foods.” In fact, sugar in soft drinks, confectionery, and processed foods is linked to obesity, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancer, and tooth decay.
As a woman over 50, limiting the amount of sugar you eat can be an important step toward better health. What are the benefits? Think more energy, a better mood, and maybe even a lower chance of getting a chronic illness.
The good news is that cutting back on sugar does not mean we have to give up all sweetness. The WHO advises limiting added sugar to 5% of daily caloric intake for optimal health.
However, reducing added sugars is difficult. Let’s take a look at some tips to reduce sugar in your daily diet while still enjoying your food.
Learn how sugar comes in different forms
First off, know that sugar is a master of disguise. It comes in different forms, each of which has its own properties and uses. Granulated sugar, which is what most people use for cooking and sweetening, is made up of small crystals made from sugarcane or sugar beets.
Adding molasses to refined white sugar results in brown sugar. It gives baked goods a caramel flavor and adds moisture. Finely ground sugar mixed with cornstarch makes powdered sugar, which can be used to dust desserts and make smooth icings.
Honey, maple syrup, and agave nectar are all natural alternatives that taste different. Honey is made from the nectar of flowers, maple syrup is made from boiling down sap, and agave nectar is a low-glycemic choice.
Molasses, which is made when sugar is refined, gives food more flavor. Fruit-based sweeteners and high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS), which is a processed sweetener used in many foods, also add sweetness.
Knowing about these different kinds of sugar helps you make smart food choices based on taste, nutritional needs, and health. If you see these in the first few ingredients on a food label, it is a sign that sugar is a part of that product.
Switch up Your Breakfast Game
Change up your mornings with these new ideas, which will add flavor and nutrition to your day, while helping to reduce sugar in your diet.
Cereal and granola from the store might seem like quick and easy options, but they are often full of sugar. So, try making omelettes, scrambles, or “sunny-side-ups” with eggs, and use Greek yogurt, granola, and fresh berries to make a new kind of yogurt parfait.
Try overnight oats, savory toast with avocado and poached egg, or crafting vibrant smoothie bowls bursting with fruits and nutrients.
Make homemade breakfast burritos with scrambled eggs, veggies, and cheese for a change of pace. Try chia seed pudding or make pancakes different by adding bananas, blueberries, or cocoa powder.
You can also use leftovers from dinner to make fun breakfasts like quinoa bowls or avocado toast with a spicy kick.
Drink Enough Water
First, keep track of how much water you drink. You can use an app or just set some reminders. Then, make drinking water a habit by sipping it throughout the day instead of drinking it all at once. If you do not like plain water, add slices of citrus, mint leaves, or even a few berries to give it some flavor.
Remember those times when you went to the gym hard or when the sun was shining? Electrolytes matter. If you need electrolytes after a workout or when it is hot, drink coconut water or eat a banana.
Sometimes, instead of caffeine, try herbal teas. They are refreshing and will not affect how well you stay hydrated. Also, eat a lot of foods that are high in water, like watermelon and cucumbers, to get a double dose of water and nutrients.
Oh, and do not wait until your throat is dry to drink water. Drink water before you feel thirsty. That is the way to do it. Pair your food with water to make digestion easier, and do not leave home without your trusty water bottle.
Lastly, pay attention to the color of your urine. Pale yellow is good, but darker colors? It is time to drink more water. Cheers to staying hydrated the smart way!
Try Natural Sweeteners
Choose natural alternatives to sweeteners the next time you need to bake or need to add sweetness to a dish. When compared to refined sugars, maple syrup, honey, and dates all have a higher nutrient content and undergo less processing.
The next step is agave nectar, which comes from the agave plant. It is sweeter than sugar but has a low glycemic index, which is great news for people who are watching their blood sugar.
Dates can also add natural sweetness and nutrients when they are blended. The sap of the coconut palm gives coconut sugar a taste like caramel. Stevia is a plant extract that can help you cut back on sugar without adding any calories. If you like rich flavors, molasses might be your go-to. It is what is left after sugar has been refined. It has a strong flavor and important minerals.
Do not forget to use fruit purees like mashed bananas or applesauce in your baking. They add sweetness right out of the fruit bowl and are great for baking.
Yacon syrup is made from the root of the yacon plant and is a unique choice. It has fibers that are good for your gut that are called “prebiotics.”
Last but not least, there is monk fruit sweetener, which has no calories and does not affect your blood sugar.
So, there you have it: a bunch of natural sweeteners you can use in your cooking, and can help you reduce sugar in your diet. But keep in mind that even with natural sweeteners, moderation is still the key to success.
Get Creative in Your Kitchen
A lot of sauces, dressings, and marinades that you can buy at the store are sugar fiestas. But if you think outside the box, you can make your own tasty versions. This can help you reduce sugar in your daily diet!
Start by making your own marinades for meats and vegetables, adding herbs, garlic, and citrus juices to give them flavor. Stir-fries are even better when you make your own sauces with things like soy sauce, ginger, and honey.
Pasta dishes can be made better with sauces made of heavy cream, butter, and Parmesan, and roasts and meats can be made more interesting with homemade gravies.
Make zesty salsas with tomatoes, peppers, and herbs or exotic curries with spices, coconut milk, and aromatics for a fresh taste. Make healthy salad dressings instead of buying them.
BBQ sauces made with molasses, vinegar, and spices are delicious, and caramel and chocolate ganache make ordinary treats special. These saucy recipes will improve your cooking and add flavor.
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Find a balance between enjoying yourself and not going overboard. Treat yourself to smaller amounts of high-quality treats and savor every bite. Plan ahead by eating healthy meals earlier in the day to balance out treats, and enjoy treats slowly to avoid overindulging.
Sometimes, you just need chocolate. When you have a craving, choose dark chocolate with at least 70% cocoa. It is less sweet and has lots of antioxidants. Or, for a naturally sweet snack, try grapes that have been frozen. They taste like little sorbets.
Switch to healthier options when you can, and save treats for special occasions to make them feel even more special. Listen to what your body tells you and combine treats with healthy foods to keep a well-balanced diet. Also, staying hydrated helps control cravings.
In the end, you can reduce sugar in your diet, and still enjoy moments of indulgence while keeping your health and well-being as a whole in mind.
Become a Snack-Time Expert
Mastering the art of snacking requires a bit of planning. Make sure you always have healthy options on hand, like pre-cut vegetables and pre-measured nuts.
Snacks containing protein, healthy fats, and fiber will keep you full and energized. Smart swaps like air-popped popcorn instead of chips keep calories in check and prevent overeating.
Switch to nuts, seeds, and fresh fruit instead of packaged cookies. Sprinkle honey on mixed nuts, carrots with hummus, or Greek yogurt with fresh fruit to make snack packs
Choose protein-rich foods like Greek yogurt and hummus for fullness and muscle support, and eat vegetables and fruits to satisfy cravings.
Practice mindful snacking by focusing on flavors and avoiding distractions. Drink water or herbal tea with snacks. Keep your snack game healthy and exciting by following your hunger cues, trying new flavors, and making your own mixes.
Cook More, Dine Out Less
While I love a night out, restaurants and fast-food chains can sneak sugar into the most unlikely dishes. When you’re the chef, you’re in control. Bonus? Cooking can be incredibly therapeutic!
Focus on home cooking and reduce dining out with these tips. Plan your meals to avoid last-minute takeout. Start with easy recipes and get better at cooking over time. Batch cooking and planning meals ahead of time can save you time and make sure you always have something homemade on hand. Try new recipes or take classes to stay interesting.
Make sure your kitchen is clean and comfortable to cook in. Get your family or roommates involved in the cooking process to make it a shared experience. Not only does cooking at home save you money most of the time, but it also lets you keep track of your savings and give yourself rewards for good cooking. These tips can help reduce sugar in your diet, and also make cooking more fun, healthier, and cheaper, reducing your restaurant visits.
If you are looking to reduce sugar in your daily diet, try these tips. Cutting sugar does not mean deprivation. It is about making better, more healthy choices that are good for our bodies. We have earned every wrinkle and gray hair, and by golly, we deserve to feed our bodies in the best way possible.
Life after 50 is exciting, full of new experiences and adventures. Let us make sure that what we eat helps us along the way. We can enjoy our food and take care of our health by making small changes here and there. Age is just a number, and feeling great never goes out of style.
We can do this, ladies! Let us do it together, one step at a time, without sugar!
♡ Love ♡,