One of the most important and significant things you can do to improve your overall health, is reduce how much sugar you consume.
This can be difficult if you eat a lot of pre-made food, since sugar is one of those sneaky ingredients that is included, even under different names, in just about everything!
Food manufacturers know that adding sugar to foods makes them taste better, and research has demonstrated that sugar is in fact addictive; this means more sales for manufacturers, but more sugar cravings for you. Not to mention that we, as humans, are actually born with a special affinity for this little devil (sugar). I bet you didn’t know that!
However, controlling and reducing your sugar intake comes with a long list of health benefits worth looking into. By eating less sugar, you are more likely to:
- Lose weight.
- Have more energy.
- Have fewer of the mood swings caused by energy highs and lows that come after eating sugar.
- Improve your ability to concentrate.
- You may be less prone to the degenerative diseases that come with aging.
HOW CAN YOU CONTROL SUGAR CRAVINGS
Significantly reducing your sugar consumption will make a huge difference to your overall health and wellbeing. So, how do you go about avoiding this addictive habit?
Here are 5 suggestions to control your sugar cravings:
1. Know what you are eating
One thing that makes it difficult to reduce the sugar in your diet is that it’s found in foods which you may not be aware of.
One example of this is low fat yogurt. You may think it’s a healthy option, but it is probably loaded with sugar or artificial sweeteners to enhance the flavor after the fat has been reduced. Instead, go for a natural yogurt, and add some extra fruit for flavoring at home, if needed.
Another example, fat free milk (or milk in general). It contains at least 12g of sugar! Sure, milk it’s good for developing healthy bones while you are growing up, but as an adult, dairy can actually be harmful and now even considered a hinder to weight loss! Instead you might opt for non-dairy alternatives, like unsweetened almond milk. It has no sugar, less calories and blends very well for that perfect soft smoothie or protein shake!
Get into the habit of checking labels to look for terms indicating a hidden sugar source. If you have a smart phone, download MyFitnessPal.com and ever food in it, or scan bar codes as you go along. Names like sweetener, syrup, or any term ending in “ose”, such as glucose, dextrose, lactose, are what you’re on the lookout for.
Definitely avoid high fructose corn syrup in particular!
2. Eat whole foods
Processed foods tend to be extremely high in sugar and salt.
So, the more you can incorporate whole, fresh foods into your diet in place of overly processed foods, the less likely you are to be eating hidden sugars.
Here is a quick list of whole foods:
- Fresh, seasonal fruits and vegetables (fruit in moderation)
- Lean meats like turkey, chicken, beef, and lots of fish
- Legumes and eggs
- Nuts and seeds
- Healthy fats and oils
Foods like these help to moderate your blood sugar levels and fill you up, this means that you are less tempted to reach for sugary foods between meals, and late in the evening.
Here is a list of 100 Healthy Snacks you can print.
Remember, there’s nothing wrong with an occasional splurge. Enjoy your celebrations!
Just don’t celebrate on a regular basis . It’s the regular consumption of sugar that causes the problem. So, you don’t have to say NO forever!
3. Check your drinks
You may be pretty good at watching what you eat, but you need to check your drinks too, as many of them contain heaps of sugar.
Soft drinks are the main culprit, one can of soda contains around 10 teaspoons of sugar. Also, many commercially prepared fruit juices are just as bad. And, if you are a sweet tea of coffee drinker, that can add up to a significant amount, especially if you drink coffee from places like Starbucks, which are very sugar-heavy.
So, what is the solution?
Water — and lots of it.
I’m not saying don’t ever drink tea or coffee again, but do make sure that water is your main source of hydration.
And, think about completely cutting all other sugary drinks, like soft drinks, fruit juices, etc., from your diet. They provide empty calories, and absolutely no benefit to your body. You might look into protein shakes that are natural and contain less than 1-3 g of sugar. You can add a little fruit and they will be nutrient dense and healthier for you than a soda any day!
4. Exercise regularly (you knew this was coming, didn’t ya?)
For many people, sugar cravings are a response to low mood, but exercise has been shown to boost endorphins and serotonin levels, which gives you a natural mood-boosting effect.
This is just one reason to exercise for a few minutes everyday, as a way to help boost your mood, and therefore help you to better manage your sugar cravings.
5. Manage stress
Most of us are prone to reach for sugary foods when we’re feeling stressed.
However, getting proper rest, and finding ways to manage your stress levels, will make you better able to fight the sugar cravings when they do set in.
I hope in the light of all the celebrations we have around the year that involve sugar treats (Valentine’s Day, Easter, Halloween, Birthday’s…), it’s always good to have at least a handy awareness that we CAN control sugar intake and it’s just a matter of will power, awareness and MODERATION. Tell your sweetie to get you non-eatable flowers instead!!!
Wishing you the best!
Credits: photo credit to BellaEats