Research shows time and time again that Americans eat somewhere between 77- 140 pounds of sugar per person per year. That’s a lot of sugar and is increasing the risk of obesity, diabetes, heart disease and cancer. Before I tell you how to eat less sugar, I want to tell you what I classify as sugar. That word gets tossed around so much it gets confusing. The “bad/ugly” sugars to me are cane sugar (of any kind), brown sugar, powdered sugar, high fructose corn syrup, corn syrup, molasses, processed honey, and any artificial sugar (Aspartame and Splenda). My “good” sugars or sweeteners are low glycemic fruits (and higher glycemic fruits in moderation), Stevita stevia, raw honey, maple syrup (in moderation) and xylitol made from birch, not corn. Here are 5 reasons you want to eat less sugar and how to make that happen.
1. Re-Train your Taste Buds to “sweet”
If you consume a lot of sugar or very sweet desserts and sweets, your taste buds are used to very sweet things usually loaded with corn syrup of all types. It takes some time to retrain your taste buds, but the retraining will happen. One way to retrain quicker is to make desserts and sweets with Stevia or raw honey or fruit. Replace the grains, which are also pro-inflammatory, with coconut or almond flours. Pretty soon your taste buds won’t notice a difference and you will actually start to want the grain free and refined sugar free desserts. The big bonus is you will still feel good after eating them unlike the grain and sugar laden desserts you may be used to now. Once your taste buds change they will be too sweet for you to handle anyways. You can trust me on this one, I used to be a sugar addict and crave sugar like crazy. If I can get over my cravings, you can too!
Also, use fruits to curb your sweet tooth. How about plain yogurt with stevia and fresh berries? Apples with peanut butter? Mango on the top of homemade coconut ice cream? Can you imagine the taste of the natural sugar from those fruits and actually imagine yourself feeling satisfied from that? It’s beautiful thing to use God-made fruits as a desserts or sweet snack treat. Think of what will make you satisfied and learn to make that healthier. That’s one of my main purposes of what I do: making everyday foods healthy. Rememeber it can take up to 2 months to train your taste buds differently but you can start to see a difference in a weeks time.
2. Use Alternative Sweeteners in Drinks
It’s amazing how much sugar you can consume in a drink. Whether it’s a smoothie, coffee drink, or bottled drink the grams of sugar can add up in what you drink. I’m not saying you can only drink water. No, you can still enjoy fun beverages, just sweeten drinks with Stevia, my favorite alternative sweetener. There are so many varieties. You have plain stevia where you can make lemonade or green tea with fresh lime or lemons. You can make a Hazelnut Latte or a Vanilla Americano with using flavored Stevia drops and a splash of heavy cream. Then you have a coffee drink (which many of us drink daily) that costs less and has 0 sugar and very low calories. Some of the large coffee drinks can have up to 70 grams of sugar in them and many artificial ingredients. That’s like eating 6 Oreo’s, and most of us drink our coffee with breakfast. Start with stevia in your drinks. You’d be amazed at what you can do with it. Read more about coffee here.
3. Keep Sugar out of Your House
There’s enough temptation with processed and sugary foods outside the house. One way to cut sugar is make a decision to keep the inside of your house stocked with clean, healing foods and don’t allow sugar in. Just think of all of the unhealthy foods in grocery store lines, restaurants, potlucks, or little snack plates here and there. There’s enough temptations throughout the week, don’t make it easy to say yes to sugar when it’s sitting in your cabinet or freezer. I have always said, if you don’t buy it, you can’t eat it. And if you do want a treat you can make a healthy treat or make a date and drive to enjoy a dark chocolate bar or another treat. It’s better than having it in your house. Better yet, bake something with alternative flours and healthier ingredients. I keep my freezer stocked with frozen (and healthy) peanut butter cups, muffins, and cookies for when I want a little treat.
4. Plan, Plan, Plan
If you fail to plan, you plan to fail. I like that quote because it’s true, but I don’t want you to feel bad if you don’t plan or if one day is really busy and planning didn’t happen like it should. I think it’s still worth mentioning; planning is key in eating healthier and getting rid of sugar. Think through your week. When do you get hungry? Plan healthy meals and snacks, purchase those foods, and prepare them in advance. We all know we get hungry at lunch time and if you don’t have something planned your tummy will outweigh your mind’s decisions and you can find yourself at a vending machine or getting a quick snack at a coffee shop. If you have cut up veggies, an apple or some raw almonds in your bag you will be able to get through that hunger much easier and healthier than not having something close by.
If you are heading to a party, make sure you don’t go super hungry if you don’t know what’s going to be there. Eat a snack before hand or tell your hostess that they don’t need to prepare a dessert and bring a dessert that’s sugar free that everyone will love (this is one of my tricks). If you are learning to let go of sugar, let yourself have a bite or two. Just a taste can go a long way in cutting a craving. You can also bring something to eat for yourself if you know the temptation is too great to say no too. People understand if you explain it them.
5. Go cold Turkey
I don’t want you to get overwhelmed by this tip. This isn’t for everybody. Some people need to take it a step at a time to significantly reduce sugar in their diet. But some of you are ready to take the next step. So cut out sugars completely. Going cold turkey means telling yourself “no” and the idea of sugar is off the table. It allows your mind to see that there’s no compromising and no falling off the bandwagon because of one social gathering. The first week is hard because your body is literally going through withdrawals to get rid of the sugar craving. Research shows that rats, given the choice, would choose sugar over cocaine. That’s how addictive it is to our brains too. If you keep feeding your body little bits of sugar, you will keep craving it. If you eliminate it you will crave it less and less. (If you keep craving it after 2-4 weeks you may have a candida problem in the gut that needs to be addressed). And you can trust me that the sugar cravings will go down because I used to be the girl who would crave and eat chocolate cake for breakfast. Now I can’t remember the last time I ate regular chocolate cake. I love chocolate and make coconut flour chocolate muffins (sugar free) and we make Chocolate Ganache cake for special occasions, but I don’t crave the 5 layer chocolate chocolate cake that I see on a restaurant dessert menu like I used to. It’s very freeing emotionally to be able to say “no” to sugar and be at peace with your decision.
So give it a try! What tips have you used to stay away from sugar? Where do you feel like you need help or support in cutting sugar?