Sugar is hard to avoid—that’s because, for some inexplicable reason, it’s in everything. Seriously. Whether you’re shopping nut butter, oatmeal, or salad dressing, you better check that nutrition label before you add it to your cart, because there’s a good chance it’s packing in the added sugar.
So how do you avoid eating too much of something that’s in hiding in everything—even in seemingly healthy foods? First off, you’ll want to try to shop for products that are really open about their sugar content—these 10 snacks don’t have any added sugar at all and they still taste amazing. (Added sugar is exactly what it sounds like: added. Many foods, like anything with fruit, have natural sugars—that’s not what we’re talking about here.) You’ll also want to incorporate these registered dietitian-approved sugar-reducing tips into your diet ASAP. They’re easy to follow and will elevate your healthy eating plan in a subtle and satisfying way.
1. Make “nice” cream.
“Make ‘nice cream‘ instead of ice cream. Blend frozen sliced bananas with fruits like strawberries to make a naturally sweet (and nutritious) treat. Add-ins like cocoa powder or cinnamon provide a flavor boost, too. One of my secrets is adding powdered peanut butter! Because who doesn’t love PB and banana? You may need a bit of liquid like milk or almond milk to reach your desired texture.”
— Lauren Harris-Pincus, M.S., R.D.N., owner of Nutrition Starring You
2. Get familiar with nutrition labels.
“The best ways to reduce added sugar from your diet is to read ingredient labels. This allows you to see if manufacturers are sneaking in any extra added sugars. It’s also important to recognize the various names sugars might have. Brown rice syrup, coconut sugar, evaporated cane juice, and agave may all sound healthy, but they are still types of sugar.”
— Lindsey Pine, M.S., R.D., owner of Tasty Balance Nutrition
3. Clean out your pantry.
“We all have certain foods that trigger out-of-control eating. For me, it’s cookies—give me one, and I’ll want to eat a dozen. Think about what foods trigger binge-eating for you, and get them out of your house. Most trigger foods are high in sugar, and by removing them from your home, you’ll automatically decrease the amount of sugar you are taking in.”
— Alissa Rumsey, M.S., R.D., spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics
4. Measure the sugar you’re putting in your coffee.
“Take a minute to actually measure out the sugar that you’re adding to your coffee. Just knowing how many teaspoons goes into your daily coffee can help you regulate your sugar intake.”
— Rebecca Clyde, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.
5. Try using vinegars in place of syrups.
“Sometimes a tiny bit of vinegar or salt works better than adding sugar or honey! When you want a more intense sweetness from your fruit, consider splashing it with a bit of vinegar or seasoning it with a sprinkle of salt. I like strawberries tossed with a little balsamic vinegar, or papaya, melons, fruit salad, or smoothie with a pinch of salt.”
— Jackie Newgent, R.D., culinary nutritionist and author of The All-Natural Diabetes Cookbook
6. Design your own dessert.
“Instead of a big bowl of chocolate ice cream, add a small handful of dark chocolate chips to popcorn and pistachios for a gourmet blend. This will satisfy your sweet tooth with a smaller helping of chocolate. Plus, those pistachios are loaded with protein and fiber.”
— Patricia Bannan, M.S., R.D.N., author of Eat Right When The Time Is Right