Curbing Your Sweet Tooth:: How to Reduce Sugar in Your Diet

Anyone else relieved that 2020 is over? I know I am, but I have to say that I made one big change in 2020 that was for the better:: I quit sugar. Well, sort of. I mostly quit sugar and I definitely became more aware of what a big part it factored into my overall diet. 

I have always loved to bake, but it was after I got married and established my own kitchen that I started to make treats all. the. time. I was stockpiling baked goods recipes like there was no tomorrow. And eating lunch dessert in addition to dinner dessert. My sweet tooth was out of control; I wanted sugar all the time. 

Curbing Your Sweet Tooth:: How to Reduce Sugar in Your Diet

Quitting Sugar Cold Turkey

So, in the middle of 2020, my husband and I decided to cut back on our sugar consumption pretty much cold turkey. I overhauled our pantry and began looking at nutrition labels before buying groceries. I scrutinized the added sugar content on E V E R Y T H I N G that came in a prepackaged box or can. Once I started looking, I discovered that there’s a ton of sugar added to a lot of things you wouldn’t normally think of- like in low-fat yogurt, granola, bottled tea, bread, marinara sauce, and even dried fruit. Sugar also hides on labels using pseudonyms like “brown rice syrup,” “agave,” and “cane juice”.

After I threw away pretty much my entire pantry, we embarked on a month-long journey of only eating foods that contained naturally occurring sugars. No added sugars if we could help it. It was a trying time, y’all. We were SO cantankerous and grumpy and snappish… I had no idea what was going on until I realized that we were going through some major sugar withdrawal.

Set Yourself Up for Long Term Success

Now, cutting sugar out of your diet completely the way that we did probably isn’t the best method for long term success. These days, I’ve relaxed the reins a bit. I still watch my sugar intake, but I let myself have a sugar bomb sometimes, too. After all, is it really possible to go the rest of your life without ever having a scoop of ice cream again? No. But, I’ve learned to curtail my sugar cravings significantly by cutting back on how much sugar I eat. And I’ve tried to gently incorporate this new way of thinking into my kids’ diets, too. I realized that I was rewarding my babies using desserts and treats, the way I had been rewarded as a child myself. I’m still working on unlearning some of these behaviors {see @feedinglittles and on IG for more}, and it is definitely a work in process.

Sugar Awareness Week

So, why all this talk about sugar? Sugar Awareness Week takes place this month from January 18th to January 24th. And according to the CDC website, most Americans are eating and drinking too much added sugars. This has led to an increase in obesity rates, occurrence of Type 2 diabetes, and heart disease. Making a few simple substitutions sugar-wise may help lower the risk of developing these issues. Here are some lower sugar swaps that I’ve done with my own family that you could try::

  • Trade sugary drinks with no sugar added sparkling water or plain water. We stock up on Kirkland brand flavored sparkling water at Costco!
  • It can be hard to quit sugar cold turkey. Instead, you can try using less of it OR substitute natural sweeteners such as honey or maple syrup instead. This recipe for chocolate chia seed pudding is a great one to try and I also love this recipe for healthier pumpkin muffins.
  • If your diet is nut friendly, consider whipping up a batch of this no sugar added almond nut butter in your high speed blender or food processor. I love making this on Sundays so I have it stocked in my fridge for the week when the urge to snack hits. It’s a good sweet treat substitute when paired with fresh fruit or carrots.
  • I wrote about this in my Friday Favorites post last month, but I am currently addicted to these vinaigrette using ingredients that I always keep stocked in my fridge. It’s super versatile and pairs well with pretty much everything!
  • A side dish that I make quite often at home is cinnamon roasted butternut squash. I had previously mostly had butternut squash in soup form, but it is absolutely delicious when oven roasted with cinnamon. I’ve omitted the maple syrup before and it’s still super yummy.
  • I’ve shared this recipe before, but it’s so good that it bears mentioning again. Slow cooker crustless apple pie bookmark this one because it is definitely a keeper! This naturally sweetened healthy dessert is requested over and over by my kids. I top it with some homemade whipped cream and it’s always a hit.

I hope these simple swaps serve as encouragement to you if you’re looking to make a few changes within your family’s diet. For more, check out:

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Cindy E
Cindy was born in Taipei, Taiwan, and raised in Sugar Land, Texas. She has a Bachelor of Science from the University of Texas at Austin in elementary education, and a Master of Education in curriculum and instruction from Houston Christian University. Cindy is married to her high school sweetheart, Stuart, and together, they parent two girls and a miniature schnauzer. Cindy's hobbies include: cooking, reading and traveling. She loves writing and being a contributor for Houston Moms!


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