Sugar is nothing but empty calories. Calories that only make you gain weight, and don’t provide you with any benefits because…well, they don’t contain any nutrients. Cutting out sugar can be very hard, especially when you have a sweet tooth (hello, me!). I realize that fully eliminating sugar may not be entirely possible for everyone, so here are some tips to help you drastically reduce it:
If you try to cut out all sugar from your diet at once, it’s very likely that you’ll fail, because those cravings will come back with a vengeance. For many, this feels more like a punishment than an accomplishment. Instead of completely cutting out all sugar from your diet at one time, start controlling the amount of sugar you DO consume. For instance, if you take three teaspoons of sugar in your tea or coffee, try cutting back to two for one week, then down to one. If you’re a soda drinker, cut back by one a week until you’ve weaned yourself off them, or to a number you’re happy with. Or for that evening sweet tooth, start by reducing your intake before you abandon everything, or just save it for special occasions.
Find better options
We know that consuming refined sugar itself comes with many consequences. And, even natural sweeteners like honey and maple syrup raise glucose levels (hello, weight gain). But, I still prefer them to refined sugar. When you can, opt for a more natural sweetener like local honey, maple syrup, or stevia. Just make sure to practice moderation!
Challenge yourself and celebrate wins
Some people like to challenge themselves, and love the feeling of accomplishment when they fulfill that challenge. If that’s you, try to challenge yourself to not to eat sugar for a week (or for a day, if you have a serious addiction.) Gradually extend your time, and celebrate each milestone. Too often I have clients that set unrealistic goals (i.e. cutting out sugar for 30 days after being a major sugar addict), and then they feel defeated. So set small goals, celebrate them, and build on that.
Reach for fruit
Fruits are a sweet and a healthy alternative to desserts. In fact, they are natures true sugar. If you feel like having cake or cookies, then grab some blueberries or another sweet fruit. The natural sugars in the fruit will help curb those cravings, and at least you’re still getting some phytonutrients from them.
Know the benefits
There are so many benefits to eliminating sugar. Once you begin to educate yourself on them, or experience the negative side effects first hand, you’ll start to cringe at just the thought of consuming sugar. When you cut out sugar, your cardiac health improves, your skin begins to glow, and your acne starts clearing up. Furthermore, cutting out sugar will boost your mood and you will stop feeling anxious, moody or tired all the time. Your memory will improve and you maybe able to lose the extra weight you always wanted to shed. The average American consumes 20+ teaspoons of added sugar per day…ouch. Think of that impact on your health.
Start your day on the right foot
According to a study by Brown University, if you start your day by eating something sweet then you’re likely to crave sugar all day long. So instead of reaching for a pastry or bowl of cereal, opt for a savory breakfast like eggs with greens, and pair it with a little fruit if you’re feeling the need for something sweet.
Sugar is truly an addiction, and it takes time, consistency, and determination to abandon it completely. Start small and take little steps toward removing it from your diet or at least drastically reducing it. Your health will thank you for it.