Beth Peralta, Registered Dietitian with University of Illinois Extension and Media Spokesperson for Illinois Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics
As we look to spring clean our homes, our sugar intake may need a refresh, too. The average American consumes 19.5 teaspoons of sugar each day, which equals about 66 pounds of sugar per year, per person.
Lowering sugar intake may seem like a tricky task, but using a small steps approach to make changes can work!
1. Select lower sugar sips
o Liquid sugar is the largest source of added sugar in the American diet. All of that sugar can add up, and it does not help your body feel full.
o Opt for water infused with fresh fruits, vegetables, or herbs; unsweetened iced tea; or half-strength fruit juice when reaching for something sweet.
o Recipes: Infused Water
§ Ideas: Strawberry Basil, Mint Cucumber, Blueberry Orange
§ Make the night before and store in the fridge. Keep “on ice” all day.
2. Small steps to lower sugar intake
o Taking a small steps approach can help taste buds get used to less sugar. Start by using ½ sweet ½ unsweet tea, opting for fewer pumps of flavoring at the coffee store, and using your own fruit to flavor up plain yogurt.
o Over time, your taste buds can get used to a less sweet flavor. You may notice that when going back to “old favorites,” they may taste a little too sweet.
o For cooking and baking, you can try reducing the amount of sugar in a recipe by up to ½.
o Recipe to Share: Blueberry Bean Muffins
§ This recipe, recently modified, with sugar content slashed in half. It also gets sweetness from other ingredients, such as vanilla and cinnamon.
· 1 can red kidney beans (15 ounces)
· 1/3 cup milk
· ½ cup sugar
· ½ cup butter
· 3 eggs
· 2 teaspoons vanilla
· 1 cup all-purpose flour
· ½ cup whole wheat flour
· 1 teaspoon baking soda
· 1 and ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
· ½ teaspoon salt
· ¾ teaspoon ground cloves
· Pinch ground nutmeg
· 1 cup blueberries, fresh or frozen and thawed
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
2. Process beans and milk in food processor or blender until smooth.
3. Mix sugar and butter in large bowl. Beat in eggs and vanilla.
4. Mix in bean mixture until well blended.
5. Stir together dry ingredients (flours, baking soda, and spices) in a separate bowl. Add to bean and egg mixture.
6. Gently stir in blueberries.
7. Spoon mixture into 12 greased or paper-lined muffin cups.
8. Bake muffins in oven until toothpick inserted in centers come out clean, about 20 to 25 minutes.
9. Cool in pans on wire racks 5 minutes until removing.
3. Keep super sweet favorites as a treat
o The all or nothing approach to sugar does not work for many people, especially if you have favorites. Restricting favorites completely can often backfire and lead to binging later on.
o Some people do well having a package in their home and choosing a small portion every so often. Others do well by going out for a treat occasionally instead of keeping a container in the home. A great example is going out for an ice cream cone instead of keeping a gallon in the freezer. Find a strategy that works best for you!