At a summer cookout, everyone enjoys the flavor of an ice cold Coke. On their way to work, who can resist a warm, flaky donut? Let’s face it, we love our fizzy sodas and Krispy Kremes here in the United States, but the health repercussions of our high-sugar diet may not be so sweet…
Did you know that the average American consumes around 100 grams of sugar (19 teaspoons) every day?
The FDA suggests that we limit our daily sugar intake to 50 grams, but in our sugar-heavy society, it’s all too easy to go overboard.
To put this in context, a 20-ounce bottle of traditional Coke contains 65 grams of sugar.
Excess sugar consumption has been related to an increased risk of diabetes, heart disease, tooth decay, and behavioral issues, among other things. Too much processed sugar can lead to candida (yeast) overgrowth in the body, which can cause headaches, extreme sugar cravings, digestive difficulties, cognitive fog, and general sluggishness.
Sometimes it feels as if we’re tethered to our sugar addiction with no way out. But don’t give up hope just yet; there are steps you may do to successfully interrupt the cycle of sugar cravings and indulging in sugary meals! Here are five simple steps to help you get started…
1. Unveil the sugar load
You can be startled to realise how much sugar is concealing to one loaf of bread or specialised cut of coffee.
Sugar is everywhere!
Most well-intentioned shoppers don’t understand that many everyday things that we don’t see as “sugary sweet” might include quite a bit of sugar.
Some fundamental foods that seem harmless but could include a load of added sugar are: sauces, dressings, condiments, processed meats, sports drinks, granola, and breads and baked products of various kinds.
Start by scouting out the nutrition labels and ingredient lists on the back of packaged foods in your cupboard and at the grocery store.
Ask to examine the nutrition facts sheet when you’re out getting fast food or on a coffee run.
Nowadays, most chain businesses make nutrition statistics readily available for you to review online, so take advantage!
2. Take note
Start a food journal. Write down everything you eat and drink for a week and then remark on your results.
When do you tend to eat the most sugar? Is it during social events when all your friends are indulging in cookies and ice cream? Do you cave to the sugar when you’re feeling emotional and stressed out?
Identify any “triggers” that may prompt you to go excessive on the sugary junk food.
Keep in mind that the purpose of this food journal is not to make you feel awful about your eating habits or to make you give up all of your sugary snacks all at once.
You will become more conscious of what, why, and how much sugar you consume on a regular basis if you write down everything you eat.
You’ll be able to build an eating plan to match your individual demands once you’ve gained these personal insights.
3. Have a game plan before you start.
You wouldn’t expect someone addicted to smokes or alcohol to quit cold turkey without relapsing, so you should approach your sugar-free journey in the same way. According to neuroscientists’ findings, the human brain reacts to processed sugar in the same manner that it reacts to opioids.
As a result, quitting sugar may be more difficult than it appears at first. Most people who eat the Standard American Diet aren’t conscious that they’re addicted to sugar, and they don’t understand how much they rely on it to give them energy when they’re tired, provide clarity when they’re stressed, or relax after a long day at work. As a result, it’s advisable to approach this lifestyle adjustment with an open mind and a strategy in mind.
You should anticipate feeling tired and angry during the initial “withdrawal phase,” so schedule your sugar cleanse around vacations, holidays, or any other stressful events that might tempt you to go for that candy bar against your better judgment. However, these terrible feelings will not persist indefinitely! In fact, approximately a month after starting your low-sugar diet, you should begin to notice the benefits.
If you have a definite schedule and measurable, daily goals, it will be much simpler to stick to your food and lifestyle modifications. Your objective could be to completely eliminate processed sugar from your diet, or you could start by limiting your added sugar intake to 25 grams per day.
Another alternative is to just eliminate soda and sugar from your diet and work toward a more stringent target once you’ve met your initial one. Make sure whatever you choose is something you can do so you don’t quite up halfway through the month.
4. Prepare a backup menu for yourself.
Because they remove so much “bad stuff” from their diet and fail to replace it with something nutritious, many people crash and burn on their diet. This isn’t going to work! Consider this: you’re hungry, and you’re sitting at your computer daydreaming about donuts.
Don’t just say no to the donut and go hungry; make sure you replace it with healthy food that will fill your stomach while also satisfying your intellect. A banana and peanut butter (non-sweetened, of course!) might be substituted for your morning donut. That snack swap not only eliminates the donut from your day, but it also keeps your content for longer due to the protein and beneficial fats in the banana, as well as the natural sugars that will satisfy your sweet taste.
Plan your meals and snacks ahead of time, at least for the first few weeks, to avoid reverting to your sugar addiction when you’re hungry. It is not the purpose of your sugar cleanse to deprive yourself and make you feel hungry. Filling your body with a variety of good, nutrient-dense foods, on the other hand, should eliminate food cravings and lead to long-term outcomes.
Make it a family event!
When you’re not alone on your path, it’s much simpler to stick to any kind of diet or lifestyle modification.
If you can persuade your family to accompany you on your sugar-cleanse, you’ll be far more likely to succeed, and everyone’s health will benefit in the long run. Meal planning as a family and home-cooked dinners can be an excellent opportunity to discuss subjects like health and nutrition with your children.
It’s also important to remember that all good habits must begin somewhere. It’s never too late to start rewriting your own “dietary screenplay” and investing in your health.
It’s difficult to give up sugar, but you’re even more so! Keep in mind that mental tactics such as goal-setting and imagining a bright future will help you get through the difficult first few weeks of your cleanse.
Invite friends and family to join you on your new, healthier diet, and your sugar-free month could evolve into a sugar-free year. Why not begin right now? You’ll be grateful to your future self!
More Sugar-Reduction Suggestions
- While baking, replace up to 50% of your white sugar with Stevia! Stevia is a zero-calorie, plant-based sweetener with no negative side effects. It’s also a good option for diabetics because it doesn’t spike blood sugar levels like other sweeteners.
- Throughout the day, eat plenty of healthy fats. Avocado, almonds, and coconut are all fantastic sources of healthy fat that will keep you content for longer and help you avoid sugar cravings.
- Look for sodas and desserts produced with Stevia instead of real sugar or artificial sweeteners to take advantage of the growing “sugar-free” trend.
When you’re craving a fizzy drink, healthy options like Zevia are a terrific substitute!
- Instead of cane sugar, look for baking and dessert recipes that use honey, dates, or figs. These natural sweeteners have health benefits that cane sugar does not, and they can give an old favorite food a new, interesting flavor!