Mindset Tips on How to Eat Less Sugar

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Try these mindset tips on how to eat less sugar and just eat healthier overall!

How to Avoid Sugar donut Photo

A few disclaimers on the “how to eat less sugar” topic

I want to start by stating a couple of disclaimers. There are natural and wholesome foods that do break down into sugar upon consumption. This would include foods such as, potatoes, peas, corn, breads, cereals, and pasta. There are also natural sugars in fruit and milk.

In this article, I am referring to added sugar, which is any type of sugar that is added into a food or beverage for taste. Examples of added sugars include brown sugar, cane juice, corn syrup, dextrose, fructose, fruit nectars, glucose, high-fructose corn syrup, honey, lactose, malt syrup, maltose, maple syrup, molasses, raw sugar, and sucrose

The CDC recommendation is no more than 10% of daily calorie intake should come from added sugars. So if you consume a 2,000 calorie diet, only 200 calories should come from added sugar, if that! There is not really a recommended amount of daily sugar intake, as sugar is not one of the suggested daily food groups, but there is a suggestion to not consume more than 24g of sugar in a day for adult women, and no more than 36g for adult men. (This is actually less than the amount of added sugar in a 12 oz can of coke, which is 29g). There is a statistic that most Americans consume 77g of added sugar in a typical day.

Try this for a day: read the label and keep track of how much added sugar you consume on a typical day. Sugary drinks are a big source of added sugar, which may be a hard habit to kick, but with the right mindset, this could be a really good change for your daily sugar intake!

My biggest Mindset Tips on How to eat less sugar

Below are the best tips I have on how to avoid sugar. The biggest being MINDSET! For me, understanding the negative side effects of consuming a lot of added sugar, has really helped me make food choices based on logic and not what I happen to be craving at the moment.

1. be mindful about nutritional value

As a medical professional, I believe that knowledge is power. The more we know, the more we can be in control of the impetus behind our decisions. The biggest mindset habit that has helped me avoid sugar and make healthier choices has been asking myself this question: “what nutritional value does this bring to my body?” As I’ve gotten older, I realize more and more that the old saying is true: “I’m not getting any younger!” I realize the importance of taking care of my body, so that I can optimize the remainder of my life on Earth! This mindset has really helped me to make healthier choices. Eating more wholesome foods is overall better for the condition of all of our organs, including our skin, which is a big motivator for me! As I’ve began to really care for the state of my well-being, it has gotten easier and easier to make healthier choices.

Ask yourself these questions:
  1. is this going to fuel my body?
  2. is this something that my body can use?
  3. will this provide my body with the nutrients it needs?

Eat less Sugar for your HEART

There is a big link between sugar intake and heart disease. Too much sugar can increase blood pressure, increase fat around the organs, and make your heart have to work harder! Read the full article on how this impacts your heart here.

eat less Sugar for your BRAIN

There is research that shows that type 2 diabetes can accelerate brain aging and high blood glucose levels can affect the brain’s functional connectivity and actually cause brain atrophy. Read the full article here.

eat less Sugar for your SKIN

This has been a big motivator for me to reduce my sugar intake and be more mindful of what I am eating. Now that I am 35 years old, I can see more of the signs of aging, and I don’t know about you, but I think for most people, we really want to slow down the signs of aging, and sugar intake seems to be a big contributing factor! (Read this article for more details on sugar’s effect on our aging skin).

It’s ok to not be perfect!

It takes time to shift a mindset and change habits, especially with food! My suggestion is just to begin being more mindful of the nutritional value of the food you are eating. When you do go for a sugary treat, try to choose something that also had some sort of added health benefit in addition to the sweetness! Basically, try to avoid empty calories as much as possible. Below I’ve included some suggestions and recipes, such as energy bites and superfood lattes, which include ingredients that will benefit you in some way while also satisfying that sweet tooth!

2. Make this rule: Eat something fresh and healthy first!

One of the tough things about added sugar is that so many foods in our supermarkets contain a significant amount of added sugar. I like to keep cucumbers, carrots, and bell peppers in my fridge almost always! It’s so easy to cut up some fresh veggies and have that with hummus or another healthy dip, such as this one! I also like to keep some tortilla chips or some crackers on the healthier side in my cabinet, and I try to only grab these after I’ve eaten some of the other veggies. (Pre-made salads are also a great thing to keep on hand for a quick and healthy lunch option).

Once you’ve filled up a bit with some fresh, nutritious foods, then take a bite of something a little sweeter, such as these peanut butter energy bites. Depending on what you put in (chia seeds, flax seeds, oatmeal, hemp hearts), there are so many nutritional benefits alongside that little bit of sweetness!

3. Find a healthier alternative that you love and keep that around!

I often have a craving for something sweet in the evening, after dinner, and after my kids have gone to bed and I am finally sitting down to have a little “me” time before bed.

Try these healthier alternatives for the Evening time sweet cravings:

  1. Dark Chocolate– Dark chocolate has been proven to actually carry some nutritional value, compared to other forms of chocolate. To get the most “health benefit,” select dark chocolate (70-80% cocoa) with the least amount of added sugar. Also, be sure to consume, like most other treats, in moderation. (Break off a few pieces of the bar and have with a nice cup of rooibos tea with milk!) Please keep in mind: recently, there have been reports of cocoa containing levels of heavier metals, specifically lead and cadmium. Please check out this list for the safest dark chocolate options.
    • Health Benefits:
      • Dark chocolate, with 70-80% cocoa contains some amount of the following nutrients: fiber, iron, zinc, magnesim.
  2. Healthy Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies– Oats are a great food for fiber and protein. Try this recipe. Here is the nutrition facts for TWO cookies! Serving: 2 cookies, Calories: 174 kcal, Carbohydrates: 20 g, Protein: 4 g, Fat: 10 g, Saturated Fat: 5.5 g, Cholesterol: 15.5 mg, Sodium: 50 mg, Fiber: 4.5 g, Sugar: 6.5 g
  3. Hot Chocolate– Try this Healthy Hot Chocolate recipe, which is just around 100 calories.
    • Health Benefits”
      • Rich in polyphenols, which are naturally occurring antioxidants. It is stated in the following research article that cocoa contains higher levels of phenolic antioxidants than most foods. Click here for more information on health benefits of antioxidants.
  4. Rooibos tea with milk and honey- This is one of my favorites!
    • Health benefits:
      • High in antioxidants
      • Low in tannins, which can interfere with absorption of certain nutrients
      • Read here on rooibos tea’s health benefits, such as boosting heart health, reducing risk of cancer, and help for type 2 diabetes

Try these healthier alternatives for the day time sweet cravings:

How to avoid sugar rooibos tea latte
  • Yogurt with berries, honey, nuts
    • Tip: Check the label for the amount of grams of sugar in your yogurt of choice and try to go with the one that has the lowest amount!
  • Superfood Smoothie Bowl
  • Espresso/Coffee with heavy whipping cream
    • Drink it black with the whipped cream on top, or stir some heavy whipping cream in for an extra creamy treat! I like to make an espresso shop and then froth my heavy whipping cream in a milk frother for a nice creamier latte!

4. Just do it… Throw away the Sweets!

As I’m writing this, it is Christmas time, and we have had tons of goodies coming to our door… from neighbors, from coworkers, from parties, etc… It is so tempting to keep them all since most are homemade with love! However, I’ve tried to remember my new mindset, which is to really think about what nutritional value, or lack there of, these treats are adding to my body! And unfortunately, more of these treats likely add very little, if any, nutritional value.

Then there is the battle of actually throwing away food vs saving it for others. I know that it could seem wasteful, and in a sense it is, however, I like to think that I’m doing myself and everyone else a favor by tossing the sweets instead of passing them on to my other neighbors, who are also likely trying to eat less sweets!

My advice: Take a bite or two.. or even enjoy one serving of the treat and then toss it! Trust me, you won’t regret it! Then you get the best of both.. you get to try the yummy treat, but you don’t over indulge, which is so tempting with those yummy sweets so accessible and temporarily satisfying sitting right on your countertop!

Good reasons to eat less sugar :

  1. Healthier skin- Sugar intake is linked to faster signs of aging due to a decrease in skin elasticity. Read this article for more details on sugar’s effect on our aging skin.
  2. Healthier Teeth- avoid cavities and extra unpleasant visits to the dentist
  3. Weight Loss- remember that added sugars do not add any nutritional value to your diet, they only add calories. So when you eat excess amount of foods filled with sugar, you are only adding calories with no other nutritional benefits.
  4. Improved mood- there is a link between too much sugar consumption and depression
  5. Improved energy levels- eating foods with natural sugars, such as fruit, will provide more lasting energy levels vs foods with added sugars, which have more of a “spike and crash” effect on your energy.
  6. Overall improved health- sugar intake can affect so many parts of the body: the brain, joints, pancreas, skin, liver, heart, kidneys, sexual health, and it’s one of the leading contributors of heart disease, diabetes, and other common diseases.

Resources for a good Sugar Mindset and how to eat less sugar and most importantly, be healthy!

  1. The Secret of Your Naturally Skinny Friends by Monica Swanson
    • I read this a few years ago and I think this is such a great book on lifestyle and mindset adaptations that will set you up on lifelong success for overall health and well-being. Monica is a great friend of mine and really has a great insight on this topic!

My mindset tips to eat less sugar summary:

  1. Be mindful of nutritional value. Begin choosing foods that will benefit you in some way.. fiber, protein, vitamins, ect. Find something that will satisfy your sweet tooth that has some sore of dietary benefit and keep that on hand! Try to avoid eating foods that only contain empty calories.
    • Ask yourself these questions before you eat:
      • is this going to fuel my body?
      • is this something that my body can use?
      • will this provide my body with the nutrients it needs?
  2. Try to eat something fresh and healthy FIRST! Cut up some raw veggies and have that with some hummus BEFORE grabbing the bag of ships! Have some sparkling water or coconut water before grabbing the soda!
  3. Keep some healthier sweet items around the house for when you just can’t say, “no”! I listed a few options, such as dark chocolate, rooibos tea with honey, coffee with whipped cream, peanut butter energy bites.. you choose! Find something that you really enjoy that has some nutritional value.
  4. Just do it.. throw away the sweets and junk foods in your cabinets! Trust me, you are doing EVERYONE a favor. If you don’t have it, your kids won’t eat it and neither will your husband! Some may complain, but overall you are leading them on a healthier path to better brain function, better condition of the heart and all other organs, and just feeling better overall!


  1. Good Food Is Good Medicine. (2023, June 4). Dark chocolate health benefits? The good and the bad to this sweet treat. good-food. https://health.ucdavis.edu/blog/good-food/dark-chocolate-health-benefits-the-good-and-the-bad-to-this-sweet-treat/2023/02#:~:text=In%20recent%20years%2C%20chocolates%20%E2%80%93%20specifically,lower%20risk%20of%20heart%20disease.&text=In%20theory%2C%20dark%20chocolate%20will,content%20(greater%20health%20benefit).
  2. Apd, E. M. B. M. (2023, May 22). 10 Health and nutrition benefits of cocoa powder. Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/cocoa-powder-nutrition-benefits
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4696435/
  4. Katz, David L., et al. “Cocoa and Chocolate in Human Health and Disease.” Antioxidants & Redox Signaling, vol. 15, no. 10, 15 Nov. 2011, pp. 2779–2811, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4696435/, https://doi.org/10.1089/ars.2010.3697.
  5. “Sugar Detox: Symptoms, Side Effects, and Tips for a Low Sugar Diet.” Healthline, 28 July 2020, www.healthline.com/health/sugar-detox-symptoms#:~:text=Sugar%20may%20also%20reduce%20your. Accessed 27 Dec. 2023.

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