Reducing Sugar in Our Diet

Updated on April 06, 2011
K.S. asks from Littleton, CO
12 answers

Hi mamas, so I have a BIG sweet tooth, but I really want to cut down on the amount of sugar me and my family eat. I don't need to cut it out completely (or should I say I don't want to!). So I'm hoping you have some tried and true suggestions.

First, what alternative sweeteners have you tried? I don't want to do artificial sweeteners, but wonder about things like agave and stevia. I don't want to buy them if no one in my family will like them. I did switch from maple flavored syrup to actual maple syrup and was met with some grumbles for that, so I can only imagine what else will come.

As far as sugar in recipes, what do you use instead? Or what other dessert recipes do you have that require less sugar? I know people have said they do things like freeze grapes or bananas for dessert- I'm sorry, no one can fool me into thinking that is dessert. I want a real dessert that actually tastes sweet. I can learn to settle for 'less' sweet, but I have to be real here. :-)

Thanks in advance for all of your great ideas!

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answers from Dallas on

I often use less sugar than is called for in a recipe and it tastes just fine. so you can experiment there. I still use sugar though!

In coffee my husband and I use honey or agave. NO on artificial! Sometimes we have decaf or tea after dinner and so this serves as a kind of dessert for us with that bit of honey or agave. We get something a little sweet without going overboard.

I have learned the more sugar I eat the more I want. I still use sugary products, but have cut back A LOT. For example, when we eat breakfast out I don't need too much syrup and ask they put the powdered sugar on the side. 1/8tsp of the powdered sugar or none at all is great. I find the less I have the less I "need."

Need a real dessert? Okay, but cut the portion drastically. We split one slice of cake into 4 portions for example.

Everything in moderation I think.

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answers from Washington DC on

i hate artificial sweeteners. agave is good. stevia is nice in its real form (leaf) added to a salad or minced and added to a frozen treat, but commercial stevia has a horrid aftertaste.
fruit actually can be a great sweetener. mashed bananas or applesauce will replace the sugar in a lot of recipes.
when that doesn't work, i use real sugar. i just use less of it.

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answers from Appleton on

Start slowly. Reduce the size if your portions a little at a time. Then skip desserts a couple of times a week. I usually use dessert as my late night snack. I don't have dessert right after dinner but just before bedtime.
I don't like artificial sweetners either. I feel that my body is not a toxic waste dump and chemical sweetners are just that to me toxic waste.
Popsicles are a great dessert less than 60 calories and nice and sweet.

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answers from Washington DC on

For me, I need to go cold turkey for awhile. Cutting back doesn't help me get rid of the craving. I recently went cold turkey for about 2-3Prefer weeks. Once I stopped wanting to reach for a soda all the time, I started introducing treats back into my diet. I prefer to go out for a treat - like go out for ice cream as opposed to bringing it into the house where it could get out of control. I am still avoiding soday, but allow myself sweets made with real suger. Perfer not to indroduce replacements. However, I will say I like Diet Pepsi. and get one occasionally as a pick me up without the sugar. I feel like Diet Coke tastes like flat Coke, but Diet Pepsi tastes like Pepsi.



answers from Joplin on

Sugar in moderation is not bad, but what you should get out of your diet is anything that has high fructose corn syrup in it. I will say that I am in love with Splenda, I cannot tell a difference taste wise, it works as a cup for cup substitute in baking. I will say that I have noticed I can half the amount of sugar called for in Many recipes with no taste difference, especially in say banana bread. I know the drink mixes in the stores that are sugar free are laden with artificial sweeteners but if you are craving juice it works in a pinch, I especially like the great value brand sugar free drink mix for lemonade and also the apple drink mix. My go to soda pop when I crave one is diet Dr.Pepper, I think it tastes less like diet than most diet soda, also I don't notice much difference in the diet versions of sprite or cherry 7up.
We are coming up on the summer months and my go to dessert is smoothies. The base is always frozen fruit, banana's and any combo of berries is always good. I usually add some yogurt to this to make it creamy and add some extra sweetness.


answers from Salt Lake City on

I really like agave nectar. It tastes great on bananas, sweet potatoes, in dressings, in smoothies. I made homemade Clif bars yesterday using it as well.
I have a major sweet tooth as well but find that cutting out the sugar makes me crave it less. Easier said than done; it takes a few days to get over that hump! When I am going "sugarless", my go-tos for sweet cravings are a baked sweet potato with cinnamon and 1 tbs agave nectar, or a banana with 1 tbs peanut butter and a 1/2 tbs agave nectar and 1 tbs sunflower seeds on top. I don't know whether agave nectar is actually any healthier than sugar, but the fact that it comes in a small bottle and is more expensive than sugar makes it easier for me to ration it out, ya know?
I also came across a "vegan, sugarless" ice cream a few weeks ago which was frozen bananas which were pureed and then you add whatever to it (I added strawberries and blueberries) and it was reaaallly good, and no added sugar. I do think that frozen grapes taste like otter pops so maybe give them a try. You can also use dates or prunes as a base for a lot of recipes (such as the homemade clif bars, or there are a lot of candy-like recipes that use ground fruit, ground nuts or sunflower seeds and other flavorings to make a "truffle" of sorts.) here are a few I have bookmarked recently, we are trying to get on the reduced sugar train as well. (my kids and I really liked these)


answers from Chicago on

I second agave nectar for sweetening. A little goes a long way and it's all natural.

Maybe instead of looking at cutting out the big sweets that you really like, think of cutting sugar in other places. A single glass of milk has 5G of sugar in it. Juice is hideous for you (and of course, pop is a no-brainer).

Also, just do smaller portions of the desserts you love. Those little bowls of brownies or chocolate chips that you "bake" in the microwave are AWESOME, and usually satisfy my craving.

My trick is to buy the little snack size sugar free dark chocolate Hershey bars and freeze them. I actually like them better than the regular sugar ones, and when I'm having a craving...1 and I'm good!



answers from Columbus on

In a lot of recipes, you can cut the sugar back some (like, it calls for 1 1/4 cups sugar, cup it to 1 cup or 3/4 cup), or substitute apple sauce for up to half of the sugar (you'll have to compensate for the extra liquid). Or, sub Splenda for half of the sugar. It takes like sugar, but your body doesnt treat it like sugar.

Try freezing pudding, or making pudding pops. They have less sugar & fat than traditional ice cream. Or jello & cool whip.

Also, when you're buying "low fat" or "fat free" stuff, be aware that sometimes, the manufacturers add more sugar to make it taste better so you might be better off getting the regular stuff & eating a smaller portion.

Get rid of juice, or if you have to have it, mix it with more water--Motts has a lower sugar apple juice; when we make OJ, we mix in an extra can of water. If you do this a little bit at a time, over time, it won't be noticeable as you dilute it more--but do it slowly a bit at a time! For pop, go to diet pop, for everyone. And if you do coffee, use stevia instead of sugar.

Make the baked goods/sweet stuff yourself, and get the kids involved in it. If you make it yourself, you'll know what's going in it, and it's more fun to make it than buy it.


answers from Redding on

Here is a list of sugar-free items that I use and no one in my family has complained:
Sugar-free pudding
Whipped topping (spray kind)
Sugar-free chocolate syrup (for choco milk)
Sugar-free tootsy pops
Sugar-free candy (MUST be the russell stover's brand)
Slow Churned Ice cream (not sugar free, but it has 1/2 the fat and sugar and taste great)
Sugar-free creamer (must be the Coffee-Mate brand)

That's really all I can think of. We eat a lot of fresh fruit with the whipped topping for dessert. Yes, Fruit can be a dessert! :) Oh, that reminds me. I do by the apple strussle topping in the produce section, its not too high in sugar and you can sprinkle a little on apples and bake them. That is a yummy dessert.

My mother-in-law uses Apple sauce instead of sugar for baking, but I am not sure how to measure that (you could look it up online). I don't bake very much because we don't need all those "desserts". I have used Splenda for baking when I needed to.


answers from Detroit on

I picked up my Belly Fat Cure book this morning. Check it out.



answers from Chicago on

Can't stand the taste of stevia. IMO, bitter and an aftertaste. Agave is good. Purevia is another alternative but I am not educated on it.


answers from Pocatello on

I really like stevia- although it won't replace everything well. Also try to add sweetness from fruits rather than sugar- like apple juice, bananas, pears etc in cooking

Sometimes you can do half sugar and half alternative sweetners with great success. Sugar does have a taste that is hard to exactly replicate, but having SOME in there can help make the alternative sweetner less "obvious".

Also... you could slowly transition over to more alternative sweetners- one time replace a recipe with 1/4 sweetness from stevia or agave and the other 3/4 sweetness from sugar... do that a few times and then make it with 1/2 and 1/2--- and so on. Many people (who are bothered) don't mind the flavor so much if they gradually switch.

By the way, my two year old loves stevia... she would eat it straight if she could... she doesn't know it is not sugar. Also- start to buy items made with no added sugar (if you don't already) - especially in things like preserves, juices, and canned fruits.... This will get everyone more used to eating foods that have thier "natural sweetness".

oh and try vanilla frozen yogurt- I love it... for me it tastes almost just like vanilla icecream... an awesome treat is to eat it as a banana split with some strawberries, a tablespoon of toasted coconut (kept on hand) and a fine drizzle of chocolate syrup... Delicious!


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