It seems that as our knowledge of diet and nutrition grows, the link to a healthy diet and healthy mind seems more and more is correlational. Unfortunately, statistics show that the average American consumes 30 spoonfuls of sugar a day. Think about it, 30 spoonfuls is a lot for any substance and continuous consumption of sugar at this level can have a detrimental effect on your health ranging anywhere from skin issues, headaches and a reduced metabolism to the development of many devastating illnesses such as heart disease, cancer, diabetes and Alzheimer's to name a few.
So, how should we be eating? The American Heart Association recommends women to consume less than 6 teaspoons of sugar a day and men to consume less than 9 teaspoons of the sweet stuff. Unfortunately, ridding your body of sugar is difficult and findings suggest that sugar can be even more addictive than some class A drugs. Phrases such as 'giving up', 'cutting out' and 'removing' can seem intimidating and even unattainable, especially when speaking about something so central to the way that we eat. However, it doesn’t need to be difficult. Follow our easy-to-follow steps to succeed in your mission of kicking sugar to the curb.
Step 1: Become an Expert in Reading Labels! Find out where sugar is hiding and learn how to identify sugar at a glance! Of course, sugar is lurking in deserts and the packets of sugar you add to your morning coffee. However, what most people don’t know is that added sugar is actually lurking in most packaged foods. Be it bread, cereal, bottle tomato sauces and even 'natural' energy bars, the chances are that they all contain a substantial dose of sugar. There's no need to be alarmed though, the sugar is easy to avoid. Becoming an expert in reading nutrition labels is key to success.
Our first tip is avoiding products that list sugar among the first three ingredients as this means that sugar takes up one of the three largest quantities and in turn, means that the sugar content is too high. What's more, if there is more than one type of sugar then the product in question should be avoided. Secondly, it's important to check the "carbs as sugars" column and only consume the good if the figures are low. For example, 5g per 100g is low whereas 15g per 100g should be avoided.
Step 2: Say Hello to Nature's Candy! Enjoy natural sweeteners such as honey, maple syrup, and agave nectar as part of a balanced diet. Thankfully, there are natural ways to get your sugar fix and adding two teaspoons or less to your morning coffee can help satisfy your sweet tooth without the health risks. In addition, whole foods with naturally sweet flavors are better for you and can keep you fuller for longer too. Why not stir warm fruit into your oatmeal as opposed to brown sugar? What's more, why not add roasted sweet vegetables such as sweet potatoes to salads and sandwiches instead of sauces made from added-sugar. In addition, instead of desserts, you can also opt for a delicious frozen date with a spoonful of natural almond butter.
It is important to remember that artificial sweeteners like Sweet 'N Low are not the way to go. They are much sweeter than sugar and can result in cravings for other sweet foods, making your sugar free journey more difficult in the long run.
Step 3: Crush the Cravings! Notice when your cravings come on strong and identify ways to tackle them. Often sugar consumption is a lot to do with habit and association. We've all been there what's a coffee without a cake? Or what's watching a movie without a bucket of ice cream? Your lifestyle alone can bring on cravings and it's best to have a plan of action once these cravings strike. On the whole, it's important to ensure that you are consuming enough protein, fiber and healthy fats as these will digest more slowly which in turn will keep your blood sugar and a steadier rate. What's more, your body converts healthy calories into energy meaning that you won't experience a crash after consumption. Moreover, it's important that you get to the root of your sugar issue. Are you turning to sugar to increase your energy levels? Your mood? Or are you snacking out of boredom? Many of us impulsively eat and although sugar does release endorphins, this is only for a very short amount of time. Try picking up a new hobby, exercising or even consuming a natural diet pill to reduce cravings.
4: Be Realistic! Everyone is built differently and it's okay if you can't go cold turkey. Instead, set yourself small steps to master your journey. We recommend adjusting your brain slowly to your new sugarless diet by trimming your intake more and more each week. So, for example, if you usually take three sugars in your coffee, why not move down to two, and then one. You can even start by squeezing one less squirt of ketchup onto your plate! The initial goal doesn’t need to be to never consume sugar again and there's nothing wrong with adding a teaspoon of honey to your oatmeal as you start out on this journey. Finally, remember that you are human and you don’t need to behave perfectly all the time. It's not the end of the world if you stray every now and then from the straight and narrow. Remember that the end goal is to change long-standing habits as opposed to trying a new fad!
For most American's the prospect of cutting out sugar is overwhelming, to say the least, but wanting to make a change is the first step to obtaining your goal of a healthy, sugar-free lifestyle. Following our step-by-step guide to cutting sugar from your diet will help you to feel happier, healthier and younger so why not start now? Aside from the steps we've mentioned, we recommend being organized and preparing snacks in advance that will stop those hunger cravings making you reach for the white stuff. Finally, our top tip is to remember that cravings only actually last for 10-20 minutes. Aside from the fact that usually, a perceived food craving is actually just thirst, you can distract yourself with other things and it usually passes. Going for a walk or putting on the beginning of your favorite show will cause you to forget that sugar exists all together!