It’s breakfast time. What’s your go-to?
Flavored yogurt? Oatmeal with brown sugar? Toast with jam?…
So many of us start our days (and continue until we go to bed at night) consuming added and unnecessary sugar, whether we are aware of it or not.
Sugar causes weight gain, hormonal imbalances, headaches, sluggishness and plenty more issues, including links to cardiovascular disease. It also robs your body of important nutrients during the digestion process. So, why on earth do our bodies continue to crave it?
It’s so much more than our taste buds that have us reaching, sometimes subconsciously, for sugary foods. In fact, sugar has been compared to cocaine for its addictive qualities. It activates the reward center of our brain that drives compulsive behaviors. It then fools the brain into ignoring the host of negative consequences.
Today, physicians, nutritionists, scientists and most health professionals are more and more describing sugar addictions beyond just cravings. In fact, about 10% of the US population are true sugar addicts, according to Robert Lustig, professor of pediatrics and member of the Institute for Health Policy Studies at the University of California, San Francisco.
I know that sounds scary and even a bit depressing. Addiction implies we are out of control of our own behaviors and inflicting punishment on our bodies when it’s the last thing we want to do. The thing is, that’s exactly what we are doing when we consume added sugar.
But, there is good news. You can kick the addiction/food craving within days and start feeling better quickly. You can think more clearly, feel less bloated and even shed a few pounds while promoting your long-term health in the process.
Here are ten ways to reduce your sugar intake without even missing it:
Swap out some common beverages
There are 35 grams of sugar in a can of Classic Coca Cola! If you routinely go for a soda (whether diet or regular), juice, sweetened tea or other sugar-laden beverages, try some of these satisfying alternatives: Seltzer gives you the flavor and carbonation you’re looking for, without all of the sugar. Seltzer has exploded in popularity recently so there are dozens of great flavors to try. Or, relish a satisfying hot or cold herbal or green tea.
Fall in love with berries and naturally sweet fruit (it’s easy to do)
Substitute organic fresh berries for syrup, honey and other sweeteners in your oatmeal, pancakes, plain yogurt and other healthy meals that could use a little extra flavor.
Fall back in love with (healthy) fat
Ditch the illogical “wisdom” of the 90’s that told us fat = bad. That led many of us to products that, while low in fat, are loaded with additives including sugar. Healthy fats like avocado, coconut oil and nuts are not only great nutritious foods, they fill us up without the sugar.
Resist artificial sweeteners
Don’t be tempted to replace the sugar packet in your coffee with an artificial sweetener, or to swap the coke with diet coke. These are still nutrient-void additives that provide no benefit to your body. Also, these chemicals can actually cause weight gain, as opposed to help with weight loss. You know why? They can actually change blood glucose and insulin response. People then consume more food, still not satisfying that initial craving.
You would be surprised how many foods include sugar, syrup, fructose or a similar sugar additive among their ingredients. Don’t subconsciously sabotage yourself by unwittingly loading up on foods that continue to feed your sugar addiction. A healthy diet includes no more than 24 grams of sugar a day. Keep that in mind when you’re shopping.
Cook at home
Just like reading labels, this process keeps YOU in control of what you eat. Restaurant meals are notoriously doused with sugar, in ways you may not even expect. Did you know an order of ribs could have you consuming an amount of sugar the equivalent to what is found in 4 pints of ice cream? Those ribs could come loaded with anywhere from 24 to 93 grams of sugar! That’s a days-worth at a minimum! When you’re following a recipe consider eliminating or reducing the amount of sugar that is called for. You’ll naturally begin to moderate your sugar consumption and begin enjoying the other flavors in foods.
Add more (not less) flavor
Experiment with spices, extracts and natural flavors. Try a little cinnamon in your morning coffee, or some ground cardamom sprinkled on nut butter toast.
Pack snacks for your on-the-go lifestyle
Having a handy bag of almonds, an apple, or some carrots and hummus will keep you satisfied and resisting the urge to add a sweet treat onto your Starbucks drive-through order.
Make your own salad dressing
If you’re health conscious, I’m sure you eat your share of salads. Did you know sugars can lurk in the dressing ingredients? Popular dressings contain anywhere from 2 to 10 grams of sugar per serving, and most people naturally double the serving size. Simplify life and drizzle olive, avocado or flax oil on your salad to help take back control of what you’re eating.
Get some help and support to tackle the addiction
As opposed to making small changes to cut back on your sugar intake, a nutritional detox frees your body from its cravings, so these healthy habits are easier to introduce AND stick to!
With a nutritional detox, you can teach your body that it doesn’t need or even want added sugar. It’s about science, not willpower. By removing sugar and refined carbs from your diet, your body will think it misses them for a few days, but will then stop craving those foods. Ridding yourself of the added sugars even recalibrate your palate to better appreciate naturally sweet foods like berries and apples!
Is it time to train your body to crave the food that actually sustains it rather than food that drains it?
Is it time to feel healthier, think more clearly, improve your skin and maybe even lose a few pounds?
Let’s talk about how you’re feeling and see if a detox may help.