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If you’re like most adults, you’re probably consuming too much sugar.  The American Heart Association recommends that men eat no more than 36 grams (9 teaspoons) of added sugar per day.  For women, it’s 25 grams (6 teaspoons) per day.  However, the average adult actually consumes about 77 grams per day.  Eating too much sugar makes you gain weight, increases your risk of high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes and other harmful health conditions. If you’re ready to make a change, here are some simple tips for cutting sugar out of your diet.

Start with small changes

You’re going to make yourself miserable if you try to cut out everything at once so take baby steps.  Reduce your sugar intake before eliminating it completely.  For example, if you usually put 3 sugars in your tea or coffee, scale it down to one.  Instead of grabbing a bottle of soda, drink water.  You may go through withdrawal in the beginning, but eventually your body will get used to it.

Watch out for hidden sugars in your foods

Even if you think an item is sugar-free, double check the food label.  There are over 50 different names for sugar, so it may just be listed as one of its scientific or brand names.  For example, agave, fructose, molasses and corn syrup are all different forms of sugar.  Go through your pantry and get rid of anything containing hidden forms of the sweet stuff.

Plan your meals ahead of time

As with any other diet, you’re more likely to stick with it if you have a plan.  So, scan your grocery circular to see what’s on sale, then plan a week’s worth of meals around those items.  Pick dishes you can cook quickly so you’re not tempted to order takeout after a long day at work. 

Avoid processed foods

Processed foods like frozen meals, crackers and deli meats tend to be full of sodium, sugar and fat.  There are healthier options which can keep you full longer.  Select foods like lean meats, nuts, beans, vegetables and whole grains.  At some point, you’re probably going to crave something sweet.  You can fill that craving by munching on some fresh fruit.

Drink more water

It’s hard giving up juice and soda, but water is much better for your body.  Drinking water can improve your memory, prevent constipation and reduce sugar cravings.  Generally, you want to drink eight 8-ounce glasses of water per day.  However, some experts now recommend drinking even more than that.