Six Tips for Reducing Added Sugar in your Diet

Published - Jan 16, 2024

Clinically reviewed by Julie Mahler, MS, RDN, CD, registered dietitian nutritionist
at IRG Physical Therapy – Gateway

Excessive added sugar intake has been linked to various health issues, including obesity, type 2 diabetes and heart disease. Taking steps to reduce your added sugar consumption can contribute to better overall health and well-being. The American Heart Association recommends men consume no more than 36 grams, or 150 calories, of sugar and women consume no more than 25 grams, or 100 calories, of sugar. We'll explore six practical tips to help you cut down on added sugars, backed by scientific research.

Read Food Labels

Understanding food labels is crucial in identifying hidden sources of added sugars. Manufacturers often use different names for sugar, such as sucrose, high fructose corn syrup and agave nectar. Familiarize yourself with these terms and be wary of products with multiple sugar variations. Individuals who regularly read food labels tend to consume less added sugar.

Choose Whole Foods

Whole foods, such as fruits, vegetables, lean proteins and whole grains, are naturally low in added sugars. These foods provide essential nutrients and fiber, which can help control blood sugar levels and reduce cravings for sugary snacks. Consumption of added sugars increases with intake of processed food items.

Limit Sugary Beverages

Sugary beverages, including sodas, fruit juices and energy drinks, are major contributors to excessive sugar intake. Opt for water, herbal teas or infused water with slices of citrus fruits or berries. Research indicates a strong association between sugary beverage consumption and an increased risk of cardiovascular diseases.

Be Mindful of Condiments and Sauces

Many condiments and sauces, such as ketchup, barbecue sauce and salad dressings, contain hidden sugars. Check the labels for added sugars and consider making your own sauces using natural ingredients.

Plan and Prepare Meals

Meal planning and preparation give you more control over your ingredients, helping you avoid processed foods high in added sugars. Cooking at home allows you to experiment with alternative sweeteners and tailor recipes to your taste preferences. Individuals who regularly prepare meals at home consume less processed food, and thus, less added sugar.

Gradual Reduction and Mindful Eating

Attempting to eliminate added sugars abruptly can be challenging and lead to cravings. Instead, focus on gradual reduction and practice mindful eating. Be aware of your sugar consumption and savor the natural sweetness of whole foods.

Reducing added sugar in your diet is a positive step toward improving your overall health. By reading labels, choosing whole foods, limiting sugary beverages, being mindful of condiments, planning and preparing meals, and practicing mindful eating, you can create sustainable habits that contribute to a healthier lifestyle. Always consult with a healthcare professional or dietitian for personalized advice based on your individual health needs.


IRG can help you on the journey to better health through movement and nutrition. Our physical therapists can work with you to become and to stay active. Learn more by calling 425.686.7660 or click here to make an appointment at your neighborhood location.

If you are looking for guidance on ways to manage your added sugar intake, IRG’s registered dietitian nutritionist, Julie Mahler, MS, RDN, CD, can help. With specialized training in obesity and weight management, Julie can help counsel you for many nutritional needs.


Learn more about service offerings at IRG here, including physical therapy, hand therapy, massage therapy, performance enhancement, athletic training and more.


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