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2739636 - nutritional label with focus on sugars.Keeping tabs on how much sugar you’re consuming each day is an important part of a healthy lifestyle, especially if you’ve been diagnosed with pre-diabetes or diabetes. The problem: Sugar has made its way into almost all of the processed foods on grocery store shelves today. It’s becoming more difficult to avoid, but with a few tips and tricks, you can control your sugar consumption.

Be label smart: Food labels are a great resource for figuring out if there is any extra sugar sneaking into your food. Check the list of ingredients; if sugar is close to the top, that means there’s more sugar in the product. Also keep an eye out for other words that mean sugar, such as dextrose, corn syrup or glucose.

The American Heart Association recommends that men should consume no more than 9 teaspoons (36 grams) of added sugar per day. Women shouldn’t consume more than 6 teaspoons (25 grams) per day. Most American adults far surpass those numbers, consuming an average of 77 grams of sugar per day. That’s easy to do, considering a 12-ounce can of soda contains 8 teaspoons or 32 grams of added sugar!

Healthy doesn’t mean sugar-free: Some foods that we consider nutritious can be secret sugar bombs. Watch out for smoothies, trail mixes, energy bars, juices, cereals and salad dressings. Often there’s a version of the food with less sneaky sugar in it.

Natural is the way to go: Even though fruit has sugar, the natural-occurring sweetness is better for you than added sugars. Fill up on fruit, because the fiber slows the absorption of carbohydrates and helps with digestion. You can satisfy your sweet tooth and get tons of vitamins and fiber to boot.

Plan your treats: It’s important that you don’t stop eating sugar cold turkey, because you’ll feel deprived and might end up binging later. Instead, set limits on your sweet tooth and plan ahead to avoid pitfalls. For example, you could plan to have one ice cream cone as a weekend treat or have a square of dark chocolate after dinner nightly.

Following these simple steps will help you cut back on the sugar in your diet, and your body is sure to thank you!