Do you love sugar a little too much?
Tips on how to reduce your sugar intake for good and overcoming sugar cravings
Some call it a sweet tooth, but for those who can’t stop eating sugar almost obsessively and in large quantities, it’s an addiction.
Sugar addiction is a real thing, and the National Institute of Health states clearly what some of us know all too well: Sugar rewards can be more rewarding and attractive than those of drugs like cocaine.
American adults consume 22.2 teaspoons of sugar every day, much of it in the form of added sugar, which is found in over 600,000 processed foods on the market today.
Compare that to the American Heart Association’s recommended daily sugar intake of 5 teaspoons (20 grams) for women and 9 teaspoons (36 grams) for men, and it’s clear that we have a serious sugar problem which has been directly connected to the obesity epidemic currently under way.
No more than 10% of your daily calories should come from added sugars.
The NHS found that the link between sugar and obesity is indeed very real, and is caused because sugar is loaded with empty calories (energy) that your body stores for later days. Only, the later days never come and eventually all that built-up energy is turned into fat.
Sugar doesn’t just make us fat, it has additional damaging effects as well. Eating too much sugar in our diet has been linked to heart disease, insulin resistance, type-2 diabetes, high blood pressure, stroke, various cancers, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and the visceral belly fat that wraps around your abdominal organs and causes a host of other problems of its own.
Sugar Is Linked to Fatty Liver Disease Sugar is largely composed of two simple types of sugars: • Fructose • Glucose Fructose is very much the “evil twin” and heads immediately to your liver. Over time, too much sugar can cause a fatty liver, which, if left untreated, can lead to full-on liver disease.
The best approach to quitting sugar is to quit cold turkey.
Don’t buy it and don’t bring it in the house. Don’t use sugar substitutes which can be filled with harmful ingredients. Instead satisfy that sweet tooth with a fruit smoothie which is filled with nutrients and tons of vitamin C.
It works! After just one week you will find sugary foods much less appealing, and you can then begin to transition some of your favorite snacks/cookies back into your diet but at much more reasonable quantity.
Beware of the following sneaky forms of sugar. Read ALL Labels:
- corn sugar
- high fructose corn syrup
- corn syrup
- raw sugar
- turbinado sugar
If you feel it’s time to reduce the amount of sugar you consume, these nine tips will help you find ways to cut out the excess amounts and stave off cravings while your body adjusts to less sugar.
1. Slay the beast right off the bat with a clean and healthy breakfast. Eat eggs for breakfast with fruit and protein and a small dish of carbs. This is going to keep your blood sugar levels stable and give you the best start to a sugar (less) day! Don’t have time for breakfast? Cook scrambled eggs the night before and reheat in the morning. Don’t forget to add tons of fresh vegetables like mushrooms, onions, peppers!
2. Do a 10-day clean eating cleanse!
Try challenging yourself to 10 days of nothing but clean eating. Switching to clean foods and whole foods is such an important part of learning to ditch the sugar.
Foods and drinks that you never thought contained sugar are packed full of it. This is because sugar is a cheap preservative and sweetener. If you know you are addicted to sugar, don’t worry. Clean eating provides natural sweeteners to replace your unhealthy addiction. Start replacing sugar with the following 5 natural foods today and your unhealthy cravings will be satisfied with naturally healthy foods.
- Pumpkin – Mashed or puréed pumpkin is more versatile in the kitchen than you may imagine. Just 1/2 cup of pumpkin replaces 2 eggs, 2 tablespoons of sugar and 1/2 cup of oil in just about any recipe. It is extremely high in healthy dietary fiber, so your sweets and treats make you feel full longer.
- Sweet potato – Just like the previous clean food on this list, sweet potatoes are excellent natural sweeteners. Use them to create healthy and delicious muffins, breads and cookies. Canned sweet potato is convenient, just make sure you check your food label to ensure no added sugar is present.
- Dried fruit – Raisins, dates, figs, apricots and berries all have very unique and noticeable flavors. You can soak dried fruit before you chop or puree it for a sweet paste that can you be used in a number of recipes. Be forewarned, these foods are high in natural sugar, so use them in limited quality.
- Applesauce – This clean eating ingredient only qualifies as such when you choose the unsweetened version. This is a clean eating standby for replacing oil and sugar in many recipes. Consider a 1 to 1 quantity exchange for sugar. You may also consider apple chunks and apple butter, as long as they have no sugar added.
- Spices – Some spices offer a naturally sweet flavor (see the previous section on How to Keep Your Clean Meals TASTY. Nutmeg, cloves, cinnamon, ginger and cardamom are considered sweet spices. Combine them with any of the suggested sugar alternatives above for a savory, sweet combination.
3. Drink more tea and water.
A can of soda contains 10 teaspoons of sugar, which is twice the recommended daily amount for women. There’s not much less in fruit juices, juice drinks, sports drinks, and flavored vitamin water.
Research has shown that drinking sugary drinks are linked to type 2 diabetes. Try some Black Tea with Lemon
Drinking sugary concoctions sends the sugar straight to the liver, where it’s quickly processed and turned to fat. Cutting out sugary drinks will not only reduce your daily amount of sugar intake but will likely lead to weight loss. Substitute your daily sugary beverage with antioxidant-rich, cancer-fighting green tea with a little honey or mint, or simply drink more water, which will benefit your health in countless ways. Read more about drinking delicious water here ….
Here is a great example of a SUGAR BOMB!
67 grams of sugar!
This is very popular brand of lemonade that I picked up at a convenience store. This is a 20 oz. bottle and this is what most kids are drinking. The smallest size fountain drink is typically 20 ounces with the largest going up to 50 ounces. Could you IMAGINE filling your 50 ounce cup with this lemonade? That would be 167 grams of sugar in just one drink!
4. Read and understand your food labels.
Carbohydrates are broken down on food labels into sugars and fiber. You might be surprised by the amount of added sugar in a large number of the foods you regularly eat, from bread and pasta to processed meats and frozen meals. Sugars are listed in grams, so to calculate the teaspoons, remember that there are four grams in one teaspoon of sugar. Grams of sugar add up quickly throughout the day, so it’s best to choose foods that have the fewest grams.
The World Health Organization (WHO) and American Heart Association recommend between 5 teaspoons (women) and 9 teaspoons (men) as a daily dietary maximum. The problem is that a beverage like a 12 ounce soda or 8 ounce energy drink can deliver all of the sugar you should ingest in an entire day in just one drink!
5. Keep your blood sugar level during the day.
Eating six small meals a day that contain a protein, healthy fat and a carbohydrate will help keep your blood sugar level and help stave off hunger and sugar cravings. Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, which can help satisfy your sweet tooth. Don’t be worried about the sugar in fruit. Whole fruit contains fiber and water to help the liver digest the sugars more slowly so that the fructose can be processed at a rate the body can handle, which ensures it won’t turn into fat. You would need to eat more fruit than is humanly possible to overload the liver with fructose.
6. Reduce your stress.
Stress often leads to overeating, and it contributes to making poor food choices. It raises the cortisol levels in the blood, which triggers the storage of belly fat and also makes you feel hungry. Deep breathing immediately lowers your cortisol levels, so take five long, slow, deep breaths at least five times a day to help reduce stress and keep it at bay. For long-term stress relief, exercise regularly, meditate or do yoga often, and get as much sleep as your body needs. Everyone has a basal sleep need for between seven and eight hours a night. You shouldn’t sleep for less than seven hours, but it’s okay if your body needs more than eight.
7. Eat healthy fats.
Healthy fat doesn’t make you fat. In fact, research shows that healthy fats can speed up weight loss. What healthy fat does do, however, is keep you feeling fuller longer, which can help suppress cravings for sugar. Healthy fats have a number of benefits that can help repair damage done by sugar. They lower your bad cholesterol and raise the good and help protect against heart disease, stroke, and some cancers. Get healthy fats from nuts, seeds, low-fat dairy products, avocados, and fatty fish.
8. Retrain your Tastebuds
It might seem to you that it is impossible to live without sugar. Well I can tell you that it’s not and it feels great! Eating or drinking a big load of sugar can make you downright sick and lethargic. Try going cold turkey for just 7 days. By going without sugar for just 7 days you will start to retrain your tasetbuds. This, in conjunction with how great you will feel, will help to start to cement the new habit.
The benefits of exercise simply can’t be overstated. Exercise improves your mood and reduces stress, which can induce sugar cravings, and it helps prevent a multitude of diseases.
It increases your energy level and improves the quality of your sleep. Each of these benefits will go a long way toward helping to counteract the damage sugar has done to your body, and will give you the energy and the right frame of mind to make better food choices.
Exercise can provide clarity to help you address outlying issues that may be contributing to a psychological need for sugar. Walk! Walking can help to tame that sweet tooth in just 15 minutes. A 15-minute walk can curb cravings for just about anything!
Danger! Danger! Consuming too much sugar is a dangerous thing for your body.
Remember – Be present in your eating. Sometimes it’s easy to go into a fog or a trance of sorts and eat a whole box of chocolate chip cookies or a theatre-sized box of Milk Duds in one sitting without really realizing it. Every time you eat, bring your mind to the present, and pay attention to what you’re eating and how much.
Simply being aware of your habits can go a long way toward changing them. Remind yourself of the reasons you’ve decided to cut down on sugar, and take some deep, slow breaths whenever the urge to overindulge strikes. Take a walk or call a friend. If you do cave in to your cravings, forgive yourself and start fresh the next day. Remember that beating an addiction is a process, and you might not succeed overnight. And that’s okay. Continue to be patient and vigilant and you will see remarkable changes. With a little time and effort, eating an entire pint of Chocolate Fudge Brownie during your favorite weeknight drama won’t even sound tempting.