Research confirms time and time again how addictive sugar is to both the human body and mind. It has the ability to send you on a roller coaster of cravings and mood swings in addition to making it easier than ever to gain weight, ultimately leaving you with poor health as it increases your risk of diseases such as diabetes and even cancer.
However, giving up sugar “cold turkey” can not only make your taste buds willing to do just about anything to experience its sweet and soothing flavor, but it can also give you headaches and make you grumpy with the people around you. So, how to reduce sugar intake without driving yourself and everyone around you insane?
It isn’t the easiest process in the world (just like kicking any addiction has its struggles), but there are four rather simple steps you can take that will increase the likelihood of your success. Once you learn how to reduce sugar intake, you’ll live a healthier and more balanced life.
#1 Remove the Sugar from Your Drinking Glass
A large number of popular drinks have high sugar content. Soda is one of them with this particular beverage containing approximately 66 grams of the sweet stuff per serving. To help you visualize how much this is, a 12 ounce can of Coca Cola has the equivalent of roughly 10 sugar cubes, which is more than enough to satisfy your sugar quota for the month, let alone the day.
Admittedly, this is one of the toughest habits to break, especially if you’ve been doing it for any length of time, so you’ll want to take it slowly. For example, if you normally drink three cans of soda per day, aim to consume just two per day for the next week and then one per day the week after that before eliminating it completely. Go slower if you need to.
Fruit juices and other “healthy” beverages like energy drinks are just as high in sugar, if not more so, so you’ll want to avoid those as well. And choosing drinks made with artificial sugars isn’t good for you either as several studies have found that they promote weight gain more than loss. So, you’re best off nixing them completely.
Of course, the best drink for your body is water, but that can get boring so you’ll want to do things to spruce it up. Add cucumber slices or mint leaves to create a refreshing beverage or put in some strawberry slices or watermelon cubes if you prefer a fruity taste instead. Play with it until you find the concoction that is most appealing to you.
#2 Eliminate the Sugar from Your Fridge and Cupboards
Once you’ve successfully removed sugar from your beverages, you’re going to want to begin to eliminate it from your fridge and cupboards, too. This means ditching desserts, candy, and any other sweet treats you like to stay stocked up on because if it is there, you’ll likely end up eating it.
If you’re not the type of person to throw “good food” away, then give it away instead. Not that you need to encourage anyone else’s unhealthy sugar habit, but if they’re going to eat it anyway, at least you’re getting it out of your grasp.
Give it to you neighbor as a gift if you’ve not yet opened it. Take it to work and hand it out to your co-workers or clients. Do what you have to do to get it out of your home and away from your mouth. The easiest way to reduce your sugar intake is to stay far away from it, don’t tempt yourself by having it in your fridge.
#3 Increase Your Intake of Complex, Unrefined Carbs
While the previous two steps dealt with removing things from your diet, this third step is all about adding. Specifically, you want to increase your intake of complex, or unrefined carbs. What are those?
Complex, unrefined carbohydrates are carbohydrate sources of food that don’t create the blood sugar highs and lows that other refined, simple carbs are known for. They are usually very close to their natural state (which means that they are less processed) and they include foods such as whole wheat, barley, oatmeal, and brown rice.
Create meals and snacks that include these types of carbs and you will give your body energy without giving it too much sugar in the process. Add different spices and herbs to them to keep your taste buds entertained while supplying your body the critical vitamins and minerals to function effectively and efficiently.
#4 Watch for Foods with Hidden Sugars
The fourth and final step to kicking your sugar habit is to learn to recognize when hidden foods exist in all of the food that you eat after completing the previous three steps. These are foods that contain sugar-based ingredients like glucose, fructose, sucrose, agave nectar, fruit juice concentrate, and several others.
What types of foods should you pay the most extra attention to, especially when you’re grocery shopping, so you don’t even bring them into your home? Here are some of the most common “health foods” that usually contain a fairly high amount of sugar:
- Pasta sauce
- Condiments like ketchup and barbeque sauce
- Salad dressings
- Yogurt (especially if it has fruit in it or is flavored)
- Dried fruit
- Granola bars
- Peanut butter
- Canned fruits and veggies
- Canned soup
Can you eliminate all sugar from your diet? It’s not likely as you would have to remove almost all of the food that is available to you today. Even if you don’t take this fourth step and just implement the first three, you’ll still benefit health-wise because you will have cut your sugar intake tremendously.
They key to surviving this transition is to pay close attention to your body and how it responds to sugars. If you are in touch with how you feel after you ingest them, then you will likely realize that while they have the tendency to give you an initial high, the following low (and poorer health) is no fun at all.
You’re much better off eating a diet that keeps you stable both physically and mentally so learn how to reduce sugar intake and increase your health. Yes, it really is that simple. Not easy, but simple. Just say “no” to sugar and “yes” to health.