It's simpler than you might imagine to reduce your sugar intake. But that doesn't mean it's easy. If you are addicted to sugar, your sugar habit might put up a fight. So, how do you start? There are three simple ways to eat less sugar, but you should really start by cleaning out your pantry!
Dan DeFigio has great advice about cutting sugar from your diet. DeFigio is the author of Beating Sugar Addiction for Dummies. He talked to me about the signs of sugar addiction and about the first steps anyone can take to live a low sugar life. According to DeFigio, you should start to reduce your sugar intake by dumping these three foods:
- Sodas, sweetened drinks, and designer coffees. Much of the sugar we consume each day comes not from the foods we eat but from the drinks we ingest. In fact, many healthy-sounding beverages are often the drinks that will ruin your diet. Even diet sodas can cause trouble. DeFigio recommends that we "stay away from sodas of all types, both sugared and sugar free." He recommends healthy, flavored water instead. But, water doesn't work for everyone. DeFigio offers this solution, " If you need to gradually wean yourself off of sweetened drinks, try adding Stevia powder instead of sugar or chemical sweeteners to your beverages. Stevia is a natural, plant-based sweetener that has virtually no calories and doesn’t carry the health risks that artificial sweeteners do. Over time you can gradually decrease the amount that you put in your water, coffee, or tea until you don’t feel like you need any added flavoring any more."
- Candy, pastries, frozen desserts, and “junk food” sources of sugar. If you're not sure how much sugar your processed food contains, check the nutrition facts label. DeFigio recommends avoiding any food that has more than 10 grams of sugar per serving. But, the key is understanding serving size. If you eat more than the amount listed on the label, you are getting more sugar than is indicated.
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- Fruit juice and juice drinks. Defigio explains that while real fruit juice has lots of vitamins and antioxidants, it’s also a concentrated source of fructose. "Fructose overload," he says, "is a direct path to body fat." Juice cocktails and children’s juice boxes are generally only 10 percent or less real juice and the remaining product is high-fructose corn syrup or other manufactured sweetener.
Curb Your Sugar Cravings
In order to manage the cravings that will probably hit when you change your diet, DeFigio offers three essential tips:
- Eat often enough throughout the day. When you go long periods without food, your body goes into starvation mode, holding on to fat stores and turning on the craving center.
- Drink enough water. Your hypothalamus controls both your appetite and your thirst sensation. It’s easy to confuse being thirsty with wanting something to eat.
- Plan ahead. Know what you’re going to eat throughout the day so you don’t find yourself at the mercy of whatever is lying around in the break room at work or whatever’s quick and easy at a drive-thru.
Remember that any change to your diet takes time and adjustment. These small steps may not feel comfortable or normal at first, but after a few weeks, you'll be living a lower sugar life and enjoying the benefits of a healthier diet and a healthier life.