Cutting Out Sugar? Where to Start?

By Teresa Wagner, RD, LD
July 10, 2018

Many of our clients tell us that sugar is a problem for them. Once they start eating sugar they can’t stop. Then their joints swell up, or it makes them feel depressed. Does that sounds like you? If so, how do you cut the sugar from your diet? Sugar is hidden everywhere and you practically have to be a detective to find it. The graph below shows how much sugar the average American is eating compared to the amount of sugar recommended by the American Heart Association.


That’s a ton of sugar! For comparison, 30 years ago the average American ate 30-50 pounds less sugar per year than we eat today. What a difference. So where is it all coming from?  

Where is Sugar Hiding?

One of the culprits (but not the only one!) are added sugars. This is the sugar that is added to foods or beverages to make them sweet or even sweeter. We’re talking about candy, cakes, donuts, pastries, ice cream or beverages like sodas and fancy coffee drinks, ketchup (yes, most ketchups contain sugar), energy and sports drinks, and the list goes on. Research has found that approximately 75% of all U.S. foods and beverages contain added sugars.

breakfast_cereal.jpgThose are pretty obvious places you’ll find sugar, but where else is it hiding? You’ll find sugar in less obvious places, such as processed foods like pizza, cereal, low-fat yogurts, granola bars, crackers and chocolate milk.

The best way to cut sugar is simply to eat real food. Here’s a menu to get you started, and you’ll many more recipes on our website.

A Menu to Cut out Sugar, Not Taste


Coffee with 1-2 Tbsp organic heavy cream
3 egg omelet
1 c. spinach, ½ c mushrooms, ¼ c. onion, (or vegetables of your choice) sautéed in 2 tsp butter
½ c. strawberries

Greek Salad

4 oz chicken breast
2 c. mixed greens, ½ c. cucumber, ¼ c. red onion, ½ c. tomato, ½ c. red bell pepper
½ c. chickpeas
6-10 Kalamata olives
Feta cheese crumbles
2 tsp olive oil
Balsamic vinegar to taste 

½ c. full-fat Greek yogurt, plain
½ c. blueberries
2 Tbsp slivered almonds


4 oz grass-fed flank steak
1 c. broccoli, ¼ c. carrots, ½ c. red bell pepper, ½ c. peapods, ¼ c. water chestnuts sautéed in 1 Tbsp. coconut oil
1 clove garlic
1 tsp grated fresh ginger
½ c. cooked rice or quinoa
Bragg liquid aminos or coconut aminos to taste (MSG- free soy sauce alternatives)

Bedtime snack:
Small apple
2 Tbsp natural peanut butter

Get Help Cutting Out Sugar

Do you need help cutting sugar out of your diet? Schedule a nutrition consultation by phone or in-person to receive personal support. If you want to learn more about sugar, check out this article where we answer the question Fat vs. Sugar: Which is to Blame for Western Disease? and this podcast that chronicles The Hidden Dangers of Artificial Sweeteners.

About the author

As a mother of three children and avid runner, Teresa knows that good nutrition is essential for energy and well-being. She also sees first-hand the impact food choices have on her children’s behavior, moods and happiness. Teresa is a registered dietitian and licensed dietitian through the Minnesota Board of Nutrition and Dietetics. She received her B.S. in dietetics from the University of Wisconsin-Stout and completed her dietetic internship at Indiana University School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences. She worked as a clinical dietitian for the Richard L. Roudebush VA Medical Center in Indianapolis.

View all posts by Teresa Wagner, RD, LD

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