Have Your Cake and Eat It Too – Best Healthy Sugar Habits

We often hear that we need to cut down or reduce sugar to improve overall health and wellness. However, there’s a way you can have your cake and eat it too, especially if you try out these healthy sugar habits.

Keep reading to find out everything you need to know about sugar, including the benefits of its consumption and its risks. Plus find out how you can enjoy sugar while still living a healthy, happy life.

What is Sugar 

Sugar is a molecule composed of carbohydrates. In its simplest form, it is broken down into glucose and can provide energy for the body. There are many different forms, including compound sugars which are composed of more than one sugar molecule. These are called disaccharides. At the end of the day, however, all sugar is broken down into simple sugar. 

A big benefit of sugar is that it provides instant energy for the body. It is a form of fuel for your cells and can help you power through difficult activities.

Should We Avoid it

While sugar should not be avoided, excess amounts do have detrimental effects on the body. Sugar in large amounts has been linked to metabolic disorders, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancer, mental illness, and other cognitive impairments. This is because sugar tends to cause inflammation in the body. Many foods that are processed, including soft drinks, flavored yogurts, cookies, breads, candy, cereals, and more, all contain high amounts of sugar. The World Health Organization states that an adult should only be consuming five to 8 teaspoons of sugar per day. That is about the amount in a 12 oz can of Coke. 

However, this article is all about having your cake and eating it too. There are ways that sugar can fit into a healthy lifestyle. This mentality is less about labeling foods as good or bad, and more about being able to include them in ways that contribute to health.

5 Healthy Sugar Habits

Without further Ado here are five healthy sugar habits that you can start using in order to eat sugar while still living a healthy lifestyle. These tips will allow you to enjoy your treats without guilt while improving your health and wellbeing.

1. Add More Macros

This healthy sugar habit is all about adding, not subtracting. If you are craving something sweet, a beneficial habit to adopt is to add more to it. This includes macros such as protein and healthy fats. This transforms a simple sweet treat into something that has more benefits for the body. By pairing sweet sugar up with other macros like protein and healthy fats, you can even help decrease the sugar spike that glucose can have in the body. Sugar spikes lead to sugar crashes which leads to a cycle of sugar consumption that can be detrimental.

For example, if you’re craving chocolate, eat chocolate! However, think about adding some Greek yogurt for a boost of protein or some almonds for an increase in healthy fats. This turns your sweet treat into something more beneficial.

2. Eat Other Things First 

Sugar is something that we all crave sometimes. Biologically, we are hardwired to want things that are easy energy. That’s why sugar tastes so good to us. In order to help curb this, it can be helpful to eat other things before having your sweet treat. Finishing a meal and focusing first on vegetables can help you reduce your sugar intake once you get to dessert or the carbohydrate portion of your meal. 

Nowadays, institutions are adopting a MyPlate mentality instead of a food pyramid mentality. On your plate, half of it should be vegetables, a fourth should be carbohydrates, and a fourth should be protein. Aim to eat the vegetables first, then the protein, then finish with the carbohydrate or sweet treat.

3. Avoid it in Drinks

As stated before, just drinking a can of Coke can be the amount of sugar you have in a day. We should not be drinking our sugar when we can have it in ice cream or dessert. Aim to avoid sweetened beverages, including teas, coffees, and fruit juice. Fruit juice, particularly, is not very healthy. It contains about as much sugar as a serving of soda and it does not have the benefits of fiber that whole fruit has. Next time, skip the fruit juice and grab an orange instead skip the fruit juice and grab an orange instead.

And remember, no matter how it is sweetened, sugar is sugar. It doesn’t matter if you are sweetening your beverages with honey, date syrup, or coconut sugar, it is all broken down by the body into simple sugar at the end of the day.

4. DIY Sauces

We may not be aware that a lot of savory items we buy in stores contain added sugars. You can see here a list of 56 synonyms that sugar contains. Whenever you see any of these names on the ingredient lists, no it’s just another word for sugar. You can find these in things that aren’t even sweet, such as condiments, salad dressings, soups, and many other processed foods. 

A healthy sugar habit can be to make your own sauces and dressings. This will allow you to control the ingredient list and use healthier ingredients overall. This includes switching out processed oils for healthy fats such as extra virgin olive oil or avocado oil or even using Greek yogurt instead of heavy cream to boost the protein of your sauces and dressings. You can even use a sugar substitute like stevia to add a little bit of sweetness while reducing the sugar content of your sauce.

5. Use Substitutes

A good way to reduce sugar consumption is to simply substitute it. Not all sugar substitutes are created equally, however, with some of them even detrimental to health such as this one here. So, make sure you do your own research, and remember that when in doubt, do without. Avoid sugar substitutes that are not well researched and choose ones that contain scientific data to prove their benefit.

For example, try to aim for substitutes like stevia and monk fruit. These come from natural ingredients and can be a good option for people who want to cut down on sugar consumption while still enjoying something sweet.

Quick Tips for Nutrition and Health

Here’s a quick list of tips for nutrition and health. Remember that every person is different and nutrition is very individual. Listen to your body and do what works for you.

  • 80/20 balance – life is about balance. Eat healthy 80% of the time and enjoy yourself the other 20% of the time to have a good balance.
  • Add, don’t subtract –  try not to limit yourself. If you’re craving something, allow yourself to eat it. However, it can be beneficial to add to the meal instead of subtracting. For example, if you’re craving pizza, have a slice, but eat it with a salad and an extra serving of protein to make it a more complete well-balanced meal.
  • Smoothie it up – smoothies can be an easy way to get a bunch of nutrients in one go. Don’t want to chew a salad? Drink a smoothie. Don’t know what to do with all that kale? Blend it in a smoothie.

The Takeaway

Healthy sugar habits make it easier to enjoy a sweet treat without feeling guilty. These prove that sugar can be part of a well-balanced diet and a healthy lifestyle. Try them out and watch how wellness flourishes.

Remember that health comes from within. Eat well, exercise when you can, and take care of your mental health. Daily habits become the building blocks to improve mental, physical, and emotional wellbeing. Try to take care of your gut health too! Get your complete guide to gut microbiota health for free here.

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