Just about all of us have heard the nightmare stories of what sugar is doing to our diets and how added sugars are a primary cause of obesity. Yet sugar is perhaps the most difficult thing to wean out of our diets. Are you looking to consume less sugar on an everyday basis, in hopes of losing weight, having better skin, or simply feeling healthier overall?. Here are some simple tips for cutting sugar out of your diet.
Be Realistic About the Process
First, you have to be realistic as your approach cutting sugar out of your diet. A variety of healthy foods, including fruits, vegetables, and dairy products, all contain natural sugars, so it would be unrealistic to attempt to cut sugar out of your diet completely. You’d be left eating only meat and fat! Instead, focus on gradually weaning added sugars out of your diet. You’ll find added sugars in just about every processed food, including fruit juice, soda, chocolate, desserts, and even savory snacks.
Use More Fresh Ingredients
This tip might require a major change in lifestyle, of course, but it is truly the most effective way you can reduce sugar intake and adopt a more healthy diet. Instead of purchasing ready-made and processed foods, make it a goal to prepare foods from fresh ingredients. That way, you’ll have more control of your sugar intake and will gain a firmer grasp on how much sugar you’re actually consuming. Instead of buying oatmeal packets and fruit-flavored yogurt, for example, buy oats and plain yogurt instead—and then flavor them with different toppings. Instead of buying bottled salad dressing, find a simple recipe online for making salad dressing in your blender. In short, any time you find yourself eating something that was packaged, ask yourself, “Is this something I could be making myself at home?”
When it comes to produce, there are more ways to have fresh fruits and veggies year-round nowadays than there have ever been. Grocery store supply chains make it possible to have all sorts of produce all year, while products like this make it possible to keep that produce fresh even in the winter months.
Focus on Eating Fruits & Veggies
We tend to struggle the most with sugar cravings in between meals. For this reason, it’s a great idea to stock up on fresh fruits and vegetables that you can enjoy whenever you need a quick snack. Baby carrots, celery, sweet mini peppers, apples, bananas, and clementines are my favorite. Find fruits and vegetables you love and make sure you always have some of them around.
Use Fruit as a Topping
Love to pour syrup on pancakes, add sugar to your oatmeal, or eat yogurt that contains added sugars? These are all foods that can be part of a healthy diet, so instead of adding sugar to them, use fresh or frozen fruit instead. You might, for example, find a healthy recipe for protein pancakes and top your pancakes with fresh blueberries and banana slices. Or, you might make homemade oatmeal and top it with fresh strawberries. And instead of eating processed yogurt, opt for plain yogurt with berries or sliced grapes on top.
Want to mix things up? Cinnamon, extracts, almonds, and other nuts make for great topping options as well!
Drink More Infused Water
It can be hard to let go of fruit juice and soft drinks, but they are a definitely major source of added sugar. Cutting out juice and soda alone could put you miles ahead toward reaching your dietary goals. Instead of drinking juice and soda, make it a goal to drink water instead. Try infusing it with berries, cucumbers, citrus, or mint leaves for added flavor to ease the transition. If you’re a fan of carbonation, you could even try infusing mineral water or plain seltzer water.
Avoid Artificial Sweeteners, Too
Tempted to swap out foods with added sugar for foods that contain artificial sweeteners? Or to add artificial sweeteners to your morning coffee or tea? Don’t! Studies have shown that artificial sweeteners actually interfere with gut bacteria, and they could even increase your risk of developing diabetes or obesity. If you want to add some sweetness to your foods, opt for honey or maple syrup as a natural sweetener instead.
Use Coping Skills for Sugar Cravings
Sometimes no matter what we do, we’re still going to want that something sweet. For this reason, it’s important to find ways to conquer sugar cravings as they hit. Here are a few techniques to do this:
- Going on a walk
- Taking a bath
- Getting a massage
- Eating a healthy snack instead
Some healthy snacks that can help curb your sweet tooth include fresh fruit, frozen grapes, banana “ice cream,” trail mix, and natural dark chocolate.
Introduce Some Exercise to Your Routine
This might seem like kind of a random tip, but think about it—exercise makes you feel great. And what’s more, your body naturally craves healthier foods when it’s active. So, if you want to crave sugar less throughout the day, make sure to get at least a short workout in during the morning. You’ll be surprised at the difference it makes!