These three tips will help you tame that sweet tooth.
Credit: Illustration: Joel Penkman

We—as consumers—get that less is more when it comes to sweeteners. In fact, the majority of us are limiting how much sugar we eat, says a Mintel survey. But let's go beyond just seeking out products labeled as "low sugar."

First, read ingredient lists to eliminate sneaky sugar sources where you don't actually taste—or need—the sweet. Look for sugar and sugar aliases like cane juice, sorghum, or sucanat. Also keep an eye out for anything that ends in "-ose" (maltose, dextrose) or "juice concentrate."

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Second, because caffeine may make your taste buds perceive foods as less sweet than they truly are, per an August 2017 study, mind your coffee habit. When people drank 200mg of caffeine, they rated sweetened coffee and, later, sucrose solutions as less sweet than when they drank a caffeine-free placebo. Don't ditch caffeine entirely—just be mindful.

Lastly, rein in stress. Eighty percent of people say they eat more sweets when they're stressed. A recent study might explain why: When stressed women drank a sugar-sweetened beverage, their body's stress response was tempered (the hormone cortisol dropped) more than in stressed women who had an artificially sweetened drink.