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Soda is the No. 1 source of sugar in the U.S. diet, according to Framingham State College.
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Let's face it -- sugar is hard to avoid. It's added to most commercial foods and incorporated into almost everything we eat. Yet, there is good reason for reducing your sugar consumption -- it's is known to contribute to a number of health and weight-loss issues. According to University of California San Francisco, sugar drives fat storage and makes the brain think it is hungry, which sets up a "vicious cycle" of overeating. Sugar can also play a role in mood swings, anxiety and depression, which can negatively affect your diet efforts. By following a few guidelines, you can cut sugar out of your diet to maintain your health and aid in weight loss.
Evaluate your current diet, writing down everything you eat for one week. Keeping a food journal is an effective way to uncover sugar consumption patterns that have crept into your diet over time and may sabotage your weight loss. According to UCLA, the average American consumes 47 pounds of cane sugar and 35 pounds of high-fructose corn syrup per year.
Eliminate refined carbohydrates from your diet, as they often have added sugar. Foods like white bread and pasta, cookies, candy and ice cream can wreak havoc on blood sugar levels. According to the National Institutes of Health, research done over a four-year period showed eating more refined grains and sweets or desserts led to weight gain, in contrast to weight loss when eating more whole grains, fruits, nuts and yogurt.
Limit or discontinue fruit consumption. Although fresh fruits are nutrient-rich and packed with fiber, they contain natural sugars. According to the American Diabetes Association, most fruits have a low-glycemic index. Some dried fruits like dates, raisins and sweetened cranberries, however, have more concentrated sugar content. If you want to continue to eat fruit -- which is recommended as part of a weight-loss plan -- choose only low-sugar fruits such as berries.
Read food labels to uncover sugar in its many forms. Look for high-fructose corn syrup, dextrose, maltose, sucrose, glucose, molasses and syrup, as well as honey, raw sugar and brown sugar. Fast foods, processed foods and many foods you wouldn't suspect -- such as ketchup -- contain sugar. Flavored yogurts, juices, canned fruits, sodas and packaged cereals are often loaded with sugar.