How to Effectively Cut Down on Sugar Intake

We all love the sweet taste of sugar. There’s nothing quite like biting into a freshly baked cookie or sipping on a caramel macchiato. But let’s be real – most of us eat way too much of the sweet stuff. The average American takes in a whopping 17 teaspoons of added sugar every day!

Overdoing it on sugar leads to all sorts of health issues over time – weight gain, diabetes, heart disease. Yikes! Not to mention those dreaded sugar crashes that make you feel like a zombie.

But cutting way back on sugar doesn’t mean depriving yourself of all things sweet. With a few simple swaps and tips, reducing your intake is totally doable. Read on to learn easy, practical ways to cut back without losing your mind or killing your social life.

Track Your Current Intake

Before making any changes, take a few days to track how much added sugar you currently eat to get a baseline.

Check nutrition labels on all packaged foods and drinks. You might be surprised at some of the hidden sources, like bread, yogurt, pasta sauce, cereals, protein bars, canned soups, nut butter – the list goes on. These things add up.

Make notes in your phone or an old-school food journal. Tracking will give you an idea of your top sugar sources so you know which habits need tweaking first.

And no fudging the numbers! This is just for your own awareness. No judgment here 🙂

Swap Out Your Usual Sweet Treats


We all have our go-to sweet snacks and desserts we reach for (a daily banana ice cream for me – no shame!).

  • Instead of buying candy, swap it for something like plain nuts or fresh fruit instead. Much more nutritious and still hits the sweet spot.
  • Love baking? Use unsweetened applesauce or banana as a sugar substitute in recipes for muffins, breads, and pancakes. Will barely notice the difference!
  • When a soda craving hits, swap it with flavored seltzer water instead to wean yourself off slowly. At first, you might miss the sweetness, but your tastebuds adapt pretty quickly.

Go through your kitchen and replace any super sugary products with lower sugar versions – jams, cereals, yogurts. Every little change makes a difference.

Ditch the Sugar in Your Coffee and Tea

For many people, cutting out their daily sweet lattes and Arnold Palmers is one of the most effective ways to drop sugar intake fast.

Depending on size, popular coffee shop drinks can have up 50 grams of sugar (about 12 teaspoons!). That’s insane for one beverage!

Going cold turkey with black coffee isn’t for everyone. Try slowly decreasing the usual amounts of sugar and sweeteners week by week instead. Or give one of these swaps a try:

  • Sweetener alternatives – Monk fruit or stevia instead of cane sugar, honey, or agave. Still sweet but more natural and way fewer calories.
  • Sugar-free flavored syrups – Caramel, hazelnut, and vanilla flavors can satisfy that sweet craving without the negative effects. Lots of options!
  • Flavor with spices – Cinnamon, nutmeg, and a dash of salt give depth of flavor without sweetness. Might feel weird at first but can grow on you!

And don’t forget to check labels on pre-made iced teas, juices, and smoothies from shops too. Many pack multiple servings worth of fruit into one drink, skyrocketing sugar levels. Make your own fresh versions instead. Luckily, any reputable natural foods company offers plenty of healthy alternatives.

Satisfy Sweet Cravings With Fruit

When an unrelenting candy or cookie craving hits, opt for fresh fruit instead. That natural fruit sugar provides sweetness that helps crush cravings fast.

Berries, pineapple, mangos, papaya, and citrus fruits have some of the highest levels of natural sugars while being loaded with vitamins, antioxidants, and fiber. Talk about a win-win!

And frozen or canned (in juice not syrup!) varieties work too. Applesauce and bananas are awesome binders in baked goods for replacing some of the refined sugars. Be sure to monitor portions with dried fruits though since their sugar content concentrates when water is removed.

In warmer months when fruit is abundant, take advantage! Keep a bowl of fresh options visible on your kitchen counter or office desk for when hankerings hit. Having readily available alternatives encourages better choices.

Learn to Interpret Labels

Reading nutrition labels on packaged foods is key for limiting hidden sugar mines. Companies use tons of euphemisms to make sugar content less obvious. Become a sleuth in spotting them all:

  • Brown rice syrup
  • Cane juice/crystals/syrup
  • Dextrose
  • Evaporated cane juice
  • Fructose
  • Fruit juice concentrate
  • Glucose
  • High fructose corn syrup (HFCS)
  • Honey
  • Invert sugar
  • Lactose
  • Maltose
  • Maple syrup
  • Molasses
  • Raw sugar
  • Rice malt syrup
  • Sucrose

We know, it’s crazy! Peruse labels and opt for products with fewer than 5g sugar per serving. Or better yet stick to foods with one ingredient you recognize rather than 20 additives and preservatives.

Over time, you’ll be amazed how much less you crave the excess sugar that once seemed impossible to cut back on. And the energy, stable mood, and health gains make it so worth it!

Scroll to top