Reducing the amount of sugar your family consumes helps them cut calories and avoid tooth decay. However, many of the snacks and drinks that American families eat daily contain large amounts of added sugar. Serving healthier snacks, modifying your recipes and paying attention to nutrition labels can help you reduce the amount of sugar your family consumes.
Lots of healthy snacks contain no added sugar. For example, eat fresh crunchy vegetables, such as carrots, celery, sliced red peppers and cucumbers with light creamy salad dressing or sugar-free peanut butter. Whole-grain crackers, nuts or string cheese also make a healthy snack, as does yogurt that has no added sugar. Fruit contains natural sugars, but fresh fruit also has fiber and other nutrients. Apples, oranges, strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, grapes, bananas and other fruits make a healthy, delicious snack.
Juice, soda and other sweetened drinks contain up to 12 tsp. of sugar in a single serving. Cut back on sugar by drinking water, which has no calories and no sugar. Unsweetened coffee or tea and low fat or skim milk are also healthy options. Don't rely too much on artificial sweeteners, however, such as those used in diet soda; their long-term effects on health are unknown.
Cooking and Baking
Many recipes call for sugar or sugar products, such as honey, molasses or syrup. Modifying recipes helps you cut back on sugar while still enjoying the foods you love. For example, you can cut sugar by 1/3 in most recipes. Use fruits and vegetables canned in water instead of those canned in syrup. Adding fresh or dried fruit, such as raisins or bananas, or spices, such as cinnamon and nutmeg, helps baked goods taste sweeter.
Read food labels before buying processed food to check how much sugar it has. Sugar isn't just in sweet foods; it's also in a variety of processed foods, such as ketchup. Food labels list the grams of sugar per serving and list sugar in the ingredients. Sugar usually goes by other names on the ingredient list, such as sucrose, high fructose corn syrup, glucose, lactose or maltose.
Making Healthy Food Convenient
Simple changes make it easier to choose healthy food. For example, keep a fruit bowl on your desk instead of a candy bowl, and keep ready-to-eat fruits and vegetables in the front of your refrigerator, along with creamy dressing for dipping. Keep healthy snacks and a water bottle in your purse so you aren't tempted to buy unhealthy snacks. Finally, make a grocery list before you go shopping, and don't shop while you're hungry.
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