Meal Plan for Reducing Added Sugar
Added sugar is everywhere, from the more obvious (desserts, cookies, and sodas) to even healthier sounding foods like flavored yogurts, crackers, protein/granola bars, bread, and many prepared foods. Too much added sugar can increase your caloric intake without providing additional nutrients.
It is not necessary to eliminate all sugar from the diet but we can benefit from focusing on choosing foods with naturally occurring sugar instead of foods with added sugar. Added sugars are those added to foods during food manufacturing and preparation, and can be highly processed, or more natural, and go by many names (maltose, brown rice syrup, high fructose corn syrup, evaporated cane juice, honey, maple syrup – just to name a few). They are typically low in fiber and other nutrients which is why highly processed, very sweet foods can spike your blood sugar and don’t create a feeling of fullness.
Naturally occurring sugars include those found in whole foods; the fructose in fruit, the lactose in milk, and the glucose in foods like potatoes. Not only are these foods naturally sweet, they are also typically high in fiber and many other healthy nutrients, making their inherent sugars a small part of their nutrient profile.
- Save your added sugar intakes for special indulgences, and on those occasions choose the sweets you really enjoy – you’ll value them all the more because of their rarity in your diet and you’ll crave them less for the same reason
- Choosing meals and snacks from the below listed options will help you swap out foods with added sugars for more whole, natural foods without added sugar while still enjoying a balanced diet.
- Option 1: Oatmeal with dried fruit and nuts
- Option 2: Whole-grain cereal with banana, low-fat milk or milk alternative, and walnuts
- Option 3: Whole grain toast or whole grain English muffin with nut butter and 100% fruit spread, and a hard-boiled egg on the side
- Option 4: Avocado smashed on whole grain bread with sliced tomatoes, and a side of fresh fruit
- Option 5: Scrambled eggs with bell peppers, zucchini, and tomatoes, with a sprinkle of parmesan on top and an apple on the side
- Option 1: Peanut butter and banana sandwich on whole grain bread, with a side of fresh fruit
- Option 2: Whole grain tortilla with black beans, mango salsa, and shredded cheese. Side salad with vinaigrette dressing
- Option 3: Whole grain pasta salad with grilled chicken and mixed vegetables
- Option 4: Broth-based soup with chicken, brown rice or legumes, and chopped vegetables (celery, carrots, onions); side of grapes
- Option 5: Spinach salad topped with grilled salmon and orange slices; whole grain crackers on the side
- Option 1: Large dinner salad with lean protein and wheat berries; Salad suggestions: spinach or mixed greens, tomato, cucumber, bell pepper, red onion, avocado, and olives, with vinaigrette dressing
- Option 2: Baked chicken, farro, and roasted vegetables
- Option 3: Orange and ginger glazed salmon, brown rice, and roasted asparagus
- Option 4: Baked chicken with roasted cinnamon sweet potato wedges, and a side salad
- Option 5: Ground chicken or beef with tomato sauce and sautéed zucchini and onions on whole grain pasta
- Option 1: Fresh melon and cottage cheese
- Option 2: Fresh cut fruit: sliced apple, orange slices, grapes, and melon, sprinkled with walnuts
- Option 3: Baby carrots and hummus
- Option 4: Dried fruit and nut trail mix
- Option 5: Apple with nut butter
For more on this topic, check out the following article: