We read about it daily: the white refined sugar we put in our coffee, add to our baked goods, and consume in most processed products is one of the worst foods we can eat. Eliminating sugar entirely is difficult for most people, but we can cut back significantly with a little conscious effort. Here are a few ways to get started.

Don’t Buy It

Sounds crazy right? But if there is no sugar in your house, you can’t use it to sweeten your coffee or tea. Consider using alternatives such as raw organic honey, stevia, or maple syrup in moderation. Raw honey is more than a sweetener, it contains antioxidants, amino acids, and is great when you have a cold or cough, too!

Keep Fruit On Hand

Have a sweet tooth? Always craving desserts after dinner? Keep a large bowl of fruit on the table. Fruit’s natural sweetness often does the trick and satisfies that sweet tooth. Frozen berries and bananas are a delicious alternative to sweet treats and ice cream. A little square of 70 percent dark cocoa can be a satisfying and healthy choice.

Replace Sugar When Baking

You can often use half the sugar a recipe calls for when baking cakes and breads. Adding raisins or dates offers sweet tasty morsels and more flavor to cookies and breads. Substituting a little applesauce for some of the oil also can give pumpkin and zucchini bread a sweeter flavor. Double up on spices like cinnamon. It can take some trial and error but it’s doable to bake with much less sugar. Another option is to use organic and unrefined coconut sugar.

Read Labels

Sugar hides in many store-bought items. Check the labels on spaghetti sauce, ketchup, cereal, salad dressing, and canned soup. Choose brands that have lower sugar content whenever you can (single-digit grams versus double).  If your favorite cereal is higher on the sugar scale than you’d like, mix it half and half with a low-sugar cereal, like plain toasted oats. Instead of instant oatmeal, which is packed with sugar, buy the plain quick-cook variety and add cinnamon and a dash of honey or maple syrup for a tastier, healthier breakfast that won’t spike your insulin and cause you to be hungry two hours later!

Cook at Home

Homemade soup, sauce, Chinese stir-fry, and other dishes can be made to your liking and usually will have considerably less sugar than store-bought or take-out food. As you cook, adjust flavors to fit your taste. Remember that most other herbs and spices not only offer better health benefits than sugar, they are delicious and can season a meal without the extra sugar grams.

Getting your palate used to less sugar doesn’t have to mean bland meals. Nor does it mean you can’t have anything sweet. Fresh and frozen fruits, homemade meals, and desserts with half the sugar can still be delicious!