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4 simple, real-world ways to eat less sugar

Most of us consume way too much of the sweet stuff. Here's how to make easy food swaps.
by Donna Freydkin and Randi Fisch /  / Updated  / Source: TODAY

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Got a sweet tooth? Most of us are guilty as charged. And especially with Valentine’s Day right around the corner, there’s no end in sight to candy consumption.

Good Housekeeping's nutrition director Jackie London is here to help all of us curb our sugar intake. And that's good news for our health.

For starters, a basic fact: According to the American Heart Association, the daily recommended amounts of added sugar differ by gender, which means 6 teaspoons (25 grams or 100 calories) for women and 9 teaspoons (36 grams or 150 calories) for men.

Here’s what else you need to know to make smart choices when it comes to sucrose.

Marinara sauce:

Your favorite savory sauce may have added sugar. Manufacturers add it to bring out the natural sweetness of tomatoes. Luckily, there are plenty of delicious options that don't have added sugar; finding them at your grocery store may just require a bit of label sleuthing. Or buy canned diced tomatoes and make your own sauce by simmering the tomatoes with sauteed onions and garlic and a bit of salt — which is almost as easy as opening a jar!

Tip:

Swap sauces for rubs — like BBQ mesquite rub on fish, meat and poultry. You can also halve sauce recipes by swapping in veggies. Meaning, add tomatoes, onions and peppers to your leftover pasta sauce.

Rigatoni Marinara with Sweet Sausage
TODAY

Beverages:

Yes, lemonade contains a load of sugar, but green health juice is loaded with 28 grams of the stuff. That’s the same as a bag of cotton candy. No matter which way you split it, these green health drinks are loaded with juice — and juice is a concentrated source of added sugar. We normally drink too much of it.

You’re much better off with fresh, whole fruit or frozen fruit, or just plain old seltzer water.

Tip:

Use what we call “juice ice cubes" to cut your sugar intake. Freeze ice cubes, filled with half of your juice of choice and half water and add to your beverage of choice — water or sparkling seltzer — to give it a splash of extra flavor. Great for kids too!

Hot drinks:

Yes, your morning beverage can get your day off to a sugary start. Lattes, hot chocolates and chai lattes all have added sugar — but many people think chai lattes aren't that bad for you because it is a tea drink. Wrong! So order wisely in the morning.

Tip:

Order a small cappuccino or latte and flavor it yourself — throw in a cinnamon stick, nutmeg, powdered cocoa or a small piece (1 square) of chocolate to your hot coffee. It's delicious and will give you a little extra sweetness, but won't be as concentrated.

Dessert:

Here’s a rude awakening for all of us who thought sorbet was a great choice: It’s actually filled with additive sugar. Which means that in fact, sorbets raise your blood sugar levels faster than regular ice cream or gelato.

Tip:

Plan what you’re eating accordingly, and if you’ve curbed your sugar intake in preparation for your indulgence, just splurge on the sundae.

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