Sugar can hide in so many of our everyday meals. Eliminating added sugar from your life can save you the extra pounds and health bills later.
Sugar is okay in moderation, but if you’re sedentary and you eat a lot of it, it can increase the risk of heart disease. Do you love sweets? Do you love bread? Then prepare for the whirlwind of negative effects they bring. If you’re trying to lose weight or maintain good health, added sugar can be one of your biggest arch-nemeses. It has a high amount of calories while leaving your belly unsatisfied. Aside from being difficult to forego because of its addictive properties, sugar can silently creep into your diet without you even noticing.
Where Can You Find Added Sugar?
High Sugar Beverages
Your favorite drinks may be the ones causing your sugar addiction. One usual sugary drink can be around 150 calories, while fruit smoothies or Starbucks frappes can easily be a meal of its own (think 300-500 calories).
Common Culprits: soda, fruit juices, shakes, or smoothies, commercial iced tea, chocolate drinks, flavored milk drinks, your favorite Starbucks frappes or coffee, yogurt drinks, and milk tea.
The Best Alternative: Water.
Not all starches are created equal. White flour and white rice are processed in the body by being broken down into simple sugars with little to no nutrients included.
Common Culprits: French Fries, Pasta, White bread, Crackers, Pretzels, Bagels, Biscuits, and Muffins
The Best Alternative: Brown rice, black rice, or red rice are starches as well, but have more nutrients and is more satisfying than white rice or white flour. Quinoa is also a great alternative.
Most condiments are originally made of good natural ingredients. However, most mass-produced condiments nowadays have high-fructose corn syrup which can lead to spikes in your blood sugar levels.
Common Culprits: barbecue sauce, pasta sauce, ketchup, tomato based dishes, mayonnaise
The Best Alternatives: tahini, mustard, and homemade versions with little to no sugars added.
Start Your Sugar Elimination Strategy
There is no one true way to eliminate sugar from your life. There are many useful strategies. The best one is the one you can commit to. Below are three of the most effective strategies in eliminating sugars from your diet. Pick one and never look back.
Train Your Taste Buds
You can train your taste buds to enjoy healthier alternatives to high-sugar foods. Case in point: if you decide right now to end your sugar cravings for high sugar beverages and learn to drink more water instead, you’ll eventually lose the craving for sugary drinks and love water. Likewise, it’s possible to train your taste buds to enjoy fruits and vegetables instead of cakes and pastries.
Gradual Decrease of Sugar
Going cold turkey often results in bouncing back to the cravings. It might also make you feel miserable with deprivation. Try to gradually decrease the intake instead. For example, allow yourself to have a fruit-based sugary treat at the end of the day instead of at the end of every meal. Or cut down from one cup of white rice to half a cup. In lieu of what you cut down, you can eat more protein or fruits and vegetables instead.
Eat more Protein
Protein helps you curb your sugar cravings by making you feel fuller and for a longer duration of time. Protein breaks down slower and doesn’t spike up your blood sugar levels. Proteins include any type of meat, eggs, nuts, or beans.
Why are we doing this?
In 2014, a twin study wanted to see whether sugar or fat is the culprit for obesity and ill health. What they found out instead is that it’s neither just sugar or fat, but rather the mix of both often found in processed foods. So what’s the goal here? Why do we want to reduce sugar in our diet? It’s because too much sugar can also lead to headaches, bloating, and skin problems. So I’m not advocating asceticism here. Rather, I hope this guide helps you reduce the sugar cravings and stay on the middle path.