cut back on sugar

Sugar Swaps: 5 ways to cut back on sugar AND satisfy your sweet tooth

Cut back on sugar without giving up your sweet tooth.

Too much added sugar in the diet can be bad for your health. According to the 2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, excess sugar can increase the risk for obesity and weight gain, type 2 diabetes, heart disease and hypertension, dental cavities, poor diet quality, and possibly impaired cognitive performance. But in a world filled with tempting treats and sugary drinks, reducing added sugars can be a challenge.

Registered Dietition Liz Weiss shares a few clever ways to cut back on sugar, satisfy your sweet tooth, and (bonus!) add more nutrients to your diet. She also shares her recipe for a healthy gingersnap pumpkin mousse.

Find more healthy ideas from Liz on Instagram, @lizweiss, or at


How to Cut Back on Sugar

  • The number-one source of added sugar in the U.S. diet is sugary beverages. This category includes sodas, fruit drinks, energy drinks, and sports drinks.
  • The amount of added sugar in the American diet may surprise you: The average adult consumes around 17 teaspoons of added sugar per day. Teenagers tend to consume even more, with some exceeding 20 teaspoons daily. Some children also consume 20 teaspoons daily.
  • The US Dietary Guidelines suggest that added sugars should account for no more than 10% of daily caloric intake. For the average adult, this translates to about 12 teaspoons of added sugar per day.
  • There are 4 grams of sugar in a teaspoon, and one teaspoon of sugar has 16 calories. (A 20-ounce bottle of soda pop can have 65 grams of sugar, or the equivalent of 16 teaspoons of added sugar.)


Liz’s Tips for Cutting Back on Added Sugars

  1. Make a Sparkling Fruit Fizz: Create your own refreshing, no-sugar added soft drink at home with 100% fruit juice (orange, pomegranate, or grapefruit), plain or naturally flavored seltzer, and fresh fruit slices. Add a sprig of mint for an extra zing of flavor.
  2. Use Fruits and Veggies for Natural Sweetness: Harness the natural sweetness of fruits and veggies in homemade desserts by using mashed banana, applesauce, fresh berries, or mango, or grated carrots and puréed pumpkin. Their innate sugars add a kiss of sweetness without the need for excess refined sugar. And don’t forget about orange, lemon, and lime zest, which contain natural oils that add a burst of flavor and subtle sweetness.
  3. Spice it Up with Spices: Infuse your recipes with warm, aromatic spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, pumpkin pie spice, and cardamom. These flavor powerhouses provide a subtle sweetness that elevate desserts, making them feel decadent without relying on excess added sugars.4. Yogurt Parfait Perfection: Greek yogurt, with its creamy texture and slightly tangy taste, offers a luscious backdrop for natural sweeteners like honey or maple syrup. Top it with fresh fruit and a sprinkle of nuts for a wholesome and satisfying sweet treat.(I am especially fond of pecans in desserts because of their subtle, sweet flavor.)
  4. Mindful Portioning: Sometimes, simply using less sugar in your recipes can be a game changer. If a recipe calls for one cup of granulated sugar, start by using ¾ cup, and gradually reduce it over time. Your taste buds will adapt!


Healthy Gingersnap Pumpkin Mousse

Serves: 4


  • 1 cup low-fat cottage cheese
  • 1 sliced and frozen banana, thawed for 5 minutes
  • ¾ cup canned pure pumpkin purée
  • 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon or ground pumpkin pie spice
  • Optional Topping: 3 crushed gingersnap cookies, 1 tablespoon hempseeds, 1 tablespoon roasted pumpkin seeds or sunflower seeds


  1. Place the cottage cheese in the bowl of a food processor. Process until smooth, 30 to 60 seconds. Stop and scrape down the sides of the bowl.
  2. Add the banana, pumpkin, maple syrup, and cinnamon (or pumpkin pie spice) and continue to process until combined.
  3. Stop and scrape down the sides of the bowl. Continue to process until smooth and creamy, 30 seconds to 1 more minute. The mixture should resemble mousse or pudding.
  4. Meanwhile, for the optional topping, place crushed gingersnaps, hemp seeds, and pumpkin seeds in a small bowl and stir to combine. Scoop the mousse into 4 bowls (each scoop will be about ½ cup) and sprinkle evenly with the topping, as desired.

**This dessert provides vitamin A, fiber, and protein

Healthy Gingersnap Pumpkin Mousse

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