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10 Food Swaps to Reduce Added Sugars in Your Diet

Limiting added sugars in your diet is important for overall health and reducing risk of chronic diseases like obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. Here are 10 easy food swaps you can make to cut back on added sugars:

Swap sugary breakfast cereals for oatmeal

Choose plain, steel-cut oats and add your own fresh fruit for natural sweetness. Add a protein source like almond butter or chopped nuts for extra energy.

Swap flavored yogurt for plain Greek yogurt

Greek yogurt is much higher in protein that other types of yogurt. Always choose plain and top with fresh berries and a sprinkling of nuts or seeds. Avoid added syrups.

Swap candy or chocolate for fresh fruit

Choose oranges, strawberries, or green apples to satisfy a sweet tooth. If you really want chocolate, have a small piece of dark chocolate, preferably low sugar or sweetened with Stevia.

Swap energy and granola bars for nuts and dried fruit

Look for bars with no added sugars if you must have a bar.

Swap sweetened applesauce for unsweetened applesauce

Sprinkle with cinnamon for extra flavor. Or better yet, eat a whole green apple. You are almost always better off eating whole fruit.

Swap fruit juice or soda for sparkling water with lemon or lime

Don’t consume liquid calories. Most sodas and even fruit juices have more than a day’s worth of sugar in each serving.

Swap sugary coffee drinks

Drink black coffee or coffee with a dash of milk or unsweetened plant milk.

Avoid sweetened cereal bars, muffins and pastries

Instead eat multi-grain bread with nut butter and fresh fruit. I like to make a flatbread with oatmeal, water and salt. I put almond butter with cinnamon and fresh fruit like strawberries and blueberries on it for a satisfying breakfast.

Swap canned fruit packed in syrup for whole fruit

An even better choice is whole fruit, preferably in season and local. If it was grown locally, it didn’t have to travel all around the world to get to you and will be better tasting, fresher and more nutrient dense.

Swap sweet condiments for condiments with no added sugar

Condiments like barbecue sauce, sweet chili sauce and ketchup contain loads of added sugar. Choose replacements like salsa with no added sugar as an alternative.

Making these simple food swaps can reduce your added sugar intake substantially while still enjoying delicious and satisfying foods. Limiting added sugars will help you retrain your taste buds as well as improve energy levels, weight, and overall health. It’s the way I overcame my cravings and lost 135 pounds. If you need support, I’m happy to help.

Want to hear about my Crowd Out the Bad Method to Conquer Cravings, Lose Weight, and Avoid Diabetes? Take the First Step with a FREE Consultation and Learn from My 135-Pound Victory Over Pre-Diabetes!


  1. Paul Taubman on January 6, 2024 at 10:01 pm

    Hey there, Karen –

    I lov this post about cutting down on added sugars – super helpful tips! Swapping out sugary cereals for oatmeal and going for plain Greek yogurt with fresh berries are game-changers. Your suggestion to snack on fresh fruit or a bit of dark chocolate is spot on for those sweet cravings (is m all about the chocolate!)

    Your journey of losing weight and beating cravings is seriously motivating. Thanks for sharing your awesome advice!

    I want to be like you when I grow up! I am trying to cut down/eliminate sugar from my diet.

    • Karen Admin on January 7, 2024 at 10:06 pm

      That’s a great goal Paul. It’s a marathon, not a sprint. Making small incremental changes is key. When you can completely eliminate processed sugar from your diet, you will be amazed at how that feels and how much control you have over your food choices.

  2. Lisa on January 6, 2024 at 10:08 pm

    Spot on Karen. I make everything from scratch and don’t buy anything in a box. I’ve been using a lot of olive oil because I’ve switched away from using butter. I really enjoyed the tips you’ve shared.

    • Karen Admin on January 7, 2024 at 10:04 pm

      That’s great Lisa. We all need to get back to basics, like our grandparents did.

  3. Doug on January 7, 2024 at 12:23 am

    I have to continually be vigilant to follow these tips, beginning with the selection of foods at the grocery store. In the evening , while working on these blog posts, my self control is weaker and if the temptations are not there it is easier to take a drink of water and continue editing.
    You must know this because we both seem to be here working on the late shift.
    Blog on!

    • Karen Admin on January 7, 2024 at 10:03 pm

      It really does start in the grocery aisle. If you don’t have the bad guys in the house, you can’t go astray…without making a midnight run. Hopefully, you would rather get a good night’s sleep instead.

  4. Kate Loving Shenk on January 7, 2024 at 12:26 pm

    Raw or organic sugar – is sugar! The body doesn’t care what form it’s in. Even artificial sweeteners can’t trick the body!

    Your post is a great reminder to think before adding any sugar in any form into our bodies!!

    • Karen Admin on January 7, 2024 at 10:11 pm

      That’s right Kate…sugar is sugar. Any added sugar has the same detrimental impact on your body. Artificial sweeteners, in many ways, are even worse than sugar. My advice…stay away from it all. You can get plenty of natural sweetness from fruits and veggies.

  5. Andrea P. on January 15, 2024 at 10:37 am

    Great ideas – thanks!

    • Karen Admin on January 15, 2024 at 10:47 am

      I’m happy you found them useful.

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