Skip To Content
  • win badge

19 Ways To Eat Less Added Sugar Without Even Trying

Crazy easy swaps, hacks, and make-ahead recipes.

Jenny Chang / BuzzFeed

There is a way to eat less sugar without hating life.

It's actually pretty easy to eat less added sugar every day without depriving yourself of desserts, treats, and the delicious stuff you're used to having. The way to do it is to make simple swaps that still taste great (and that you can live with!) and learning how to quickly prep tasty goods so that you don't have to only rely on packaged stuff that typically has tons of added sugar. Check out the swaps and tips below.

And just real quick, in this article we're talking about added sugars.

These are the sweeteners added to packaged foods and the sugar you add to your coffee, tea, oatmeal, and so on — not the naturally occurring sugars found in fruit. Added sugars are the stuff that's linked to weight gain and risk of cardiovascular disease (even when you're not overweight), and the CDC says that the average American eats way too much of it — about 82 grams per day. This is way more than what the American Heart Association recommends for women (25 grams per day) and for men (38 grams of added sugar per day).

Jenny Chang / BuzzFeed

1. Eat cereal that isn't a bowl of sugar but also doesn't taste like sticks.

True story: Some cereals are more than 50% sugar (like Honey Smacks, which have 15 grams of sugar per 3/4 cup).

But there are other cereals that have far less sugar but enough to make them damn tasty, like Kashi Heart to Heart Honey Toasted Oat Cereal and Puffins Original, both of which have five grams of sugar per 3/4 cup.

Here's a complete list of cereals and their sugar content.

2. Use a lower-sugar pancake mix.

Sally Tamarkin / Via

No one's saying you can't use instant batter but Bob's Red Mill Buttermilk Pancake & Waffle Whole Grain Mix contains two grams of sugar versus six grams in every half cup of Bisquick's Simply Buttermilk With Whole Grain mix.

3. Master this two-ingredient compote.

This calls for fresh or frozen strawberries and three tablespoons of orange juice. Be sure to use fresh-squeezed OJ or no-sugar-added kind. Get the recipe here.

4. Then put it on your pancakes instead of syrup.

5. Also spread it on toast.

6. Make this easy sweetener out of dates to keep on hand for when you need a topping for baked goods, yogurt, oatmeal, etc.

7. And use that date paste + vanilla or almond extract + cinnamon to make a rich refined-sugar-free coffee creamer.

8. Instead of buying granola bars, make these super simple four-ingredients ones.

Packaged granola bars are usually sweetened with a significant amount of added sugar. These homemade bars are sweet thanks only to the dates (or whatever dried fruit you want to use). Recipe here.

9. Make a batch of overnight oats for a no-sugar-added breakfast you can grab on the go.

Overnight oats are awesome because they take very little time to prep and while they sit in the fridge overnight the flavors mix together, giving you a deliciously sweet and creamy breakfast that you grab and pack on the go.

The formula for overnight oats according to Food52 is:

• Mix rolled or steel cut oats with the milk or non-dairy alternative of your choice.

• Add any spices or dried fruit.

• Store in an airtight container overnight.

• Add fresh nuts or fruit in the morning.

Get a bunch more recipes here.

10. Get plain yogurt to make your own parfaits and store them for your daily breakfast or snack.

Store-bought yogurt (especially if it's flavored and/or low-fat) has added sugar in the form of flavorings, a syrupy fruit mixture, or both. Some store-bought yogurts actually have more sugar than a Twinkie!

Make your own parfaits with fruit or fruit compote, portion into containers, and keep them around all week. When you're ready to eat them add nuts or ground flax for some crunch or nutty flavor.

11. If you drink non-dairy milk, get the unsweetened variety.

Jenny Chang / BuzzFeed

12. Follow this super-easy formula for homemade salad dressing.

Kath Eats Real Food / Via

Bottled dressings — especially fat-free ones — can be high in added sugar (with three to six grams of sugar per two-tablespoon serving, and let's be honest who's using just two tablespoons of salad dressing?).

If you follow this formula you can make really good dressing with a fraction of the sugar.

13. Try breads that have less sugar and maybe even more taste.

Lots of store-bought breads have at least three or four grams of added sugar per slice and they're often highly refined with nutrients removed (more on that here).

The good news is that whole and sprouted grain breads tend to be less processed, hearty and more filling, and with a deliciously nutty flavor. Ezekiel is just one brand whose breads often just have one or even zero grams of sugar per slice. And apparently it tastes pretty damn good, too.

14. Or use wheat tortillas in place of bread.

Wheat tortillas have less sugar per serving than many breads.

Either make your favorite sandwich in a tortilla or get adventurous and try the hummus spiral wraps pictured here.

15. Make and freeze a bunch of homemade marinara sauce.

The red sauce you buy at the store often has a fair amount of sugar. Use this recipe to make your own without added sugar, portion it out, and keep it in the fridge for your meals throughout the week or keep it in the freezer to use later on.

Jenny Chang / BuzzFeed

16. Swap dates for sugar in tons of dessert recipes.

Like these chocolate truffles and chocolate peanut butter pudding for starters. Here are 17 different ways to make deliciously sweet stuff using dates.

17. Make surprisingly sweet and creamy ice cream with frozen bananas.

Add peanut butter, nuts, cinnamon, or whatever else you like to this single-ingredient ice cream recipe.

18. Eat dark chocolate instead of just any old candy bar.

Generally speaking dark chocolate bars that are at least about 75% cocoa will have less sugar per serving that regular candy bars like Twix, Snickers, etc. Keep in mind that the lower the cocoa percentage, the sweeter the bar will be so something that's only 65% cocoa might have just as much sugar as a Hershey bar.

Related pro tip: Something that's 80% cocoa or higher might be downright bitter and not super pleasing when you're in the market for a treat.

Try the Chocolove XOXOX — it is 77% cocoa, which means less sugar than Hershey bar but still sweet enough to satisfy a sweet tooth.

19. DIY fresh fruit ice pops.

All you need is fresh fruit, juice, plastic cups, and Popsicle sticks to make these refreshing frozen fruit pops. And here are a few more no-sugar-added ice pop recipes.

Want to be the first to see product recommendations, style hacks, and beauty trends? Sign up for our As/Is newsletter!

Newsletter signup form