We all have a love-hate relationship with sugar. We try to wean ourselves off, but it’s everywhere when you dine out or grocery shop. While we all crave the sweet euphoria of a sugar high, too much of it in your diet can lead to health problems, such as weight gain, diabetes, and heart disease.
Fact: The American Heart Association suggests that women should have no more than 25 grams of sugar a day, while men should have a maximum of 35 grams.
One teaspoon contains four grams, so 25 grams equals 6.25 teaspoons of sugar, and 35 grams equals 8.75 teaspoons of sugar. While this is the official recommendation, think of these amounts as the absolute max, and shoot for less. First and foremost, it's key to learn the basics of nutrition labels to control your sugar intake.
If you’re not already trained in reading labels, you might be shocked at how easy it is to exceed these limits (even if you think you’re eating all the right foods). For example:
While it is important to learn ways to curb your sugar cravings, you can still indulge sometimes when your sweet tooth strikes. You just have to learn which low sugar desserts to look for when you’re grocery shopping.
Still, even low-sugar desserts can set you on a blood sugar rollercoaster, and make you crave more sweet foods. Keep the following desserts to a once in awhile treat instead of a daily indulgence.
Here are some of our favorite low sugar desserts and low carb desserts and sweeteners that you can find at your local grocery store:
These “no added sugar” and dairy free ice cream bars are sweetened with erythritol and stevia. They’re similar to the Haagen Dazs bars, but with less sugar, fat, and calories. Sugar alcohols like erythritol can cause digestive upset for some, so keep this in mind when choosing your low sugar dessert.
We’ve tried several protein ice creams, and Enlightened is our clear favorite in terms of texture and flavors. While most protein-packed ice creams seem to be on the icier side, we found Enlightened to be the creamiest of them all. One serving only contains 6 grams of sugar, but adds 7 grams of protein. Win-win.
As mentioned before, store bought açaí bowls often contain up to 65 grams of sugar. The açaí puree used in these bowls are almost always pre-sweetened with cane sugar. With these unsweetened packs, you can make a low sugar version at home and achieve the same level of sweetness by adding stevia or monk fruit.
Do: top it with seeds, nut butter, and berries. Don’t: add the banana if you want to keep it lower in sugar and carbohydrates.
These are the new and improved (for your health) Reese’s peanut butter cups. You won’t be getting the 24 grams of sugar in the Lily’s version, but these will satisfy that nostalgic craving nonetheless. Perfect for sneaking into a movie theater!
If your favorite cereal as a kid was Cinnamon Toast Crunch, you’ll love this healthier version. It’s sweetened with organic monk fruit and contains no sugar, but has a whopping 10 grams of protein and 6 grams of fiber. This would be a great breakfast for the whole family, and help keep energy levels stable due to the protein and fiber content.
Smart Sweets created better-for-you versions of nostalgic gummies, such as sour patch kids, swedish fish, gummy bears, and my personal favorite, peach rings. These no sugar candies would also make perfect accompaniments to movie night.
This stevia-sweetened maple-flavored syrup is the perfect condiment for weekend pancakes and waffles, and will also save you from the 53 grams of sugar in traditional maple syrups. This one might be tougher to find in grocery stores, but Lakanto maple syrup is a good and similar alternative.
Sometimes stevia doesn’t cut it in baking, and that’s okay. The Lakanto line of sugars and sweeteners uses a blend of monk fruit and erythritol that mimics the taste and textures of sugar like no other. It’s also a 1:1 substitute in baking, so no need to figure out tricky math conversions.
We had to give Lily’s another mention here. They produce stevia-sweetened chocolate in many forms, and chocolate chips (white, milk, semi-sweet, and dark) are no exception. These are perfect in chocolate chip cookies and banana bread.
We get that the options mentioned above can be spendy, so here are some of our favorite low-cost, low-sugar desserts you can make at home:
While these low sugar dessert options are far healthier, keep in mind that the more sweet-tasting foods you eat, the more you will crave them. It's best to limit these to once in awhile treats, instead of indulging in them daily.
The best way to monitor your sugar intake is to get in the habit of reading nutrition facts and labels. If your maximum daily allowance is 25 grams of sugar, do you really want to waste that on one serving of fruit juice? Or would you rather be able to have multiple low sugar desserts throughout the day? We'd say that’s a no-brainer.