September 17, 2019
How to kick your sugar habit
Everyone is aware of the dangers of sugar and how it affects the body, which is why people choose to avoid sugar as much as possible. While our ancestors used sugar as a source of energy to handle their daily work, today, sugar is found in everything we eat.
According to the American Heart Association, the maximum amount of added sugars you should eat in a day are 150 calories per day for men and 100 calories for women. For men, this is about nine teaspoons, and six teaspoons for women.
Excess sugar causes obesity, diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, and many other health problems. Sadly, sugar is addictive, and it is a difficult habit to break. Breaking a sugar habit takes a lot of work and willpower to get past a sugar craving, but you can do it if you keep these tips in mind.
Know your sugars
Sugar has many different names and is found in all sorts of foods. Many sugars are quite easy to identify. White sugar, brown sugar, molasses, maple syrup, and honey are the more obvious forms of sugars that you can easily avoid. However, manufacturers disguise sugar by using different names on food labels. Some of the more scientific terms you may have seen that are essentially sugar include:
- High fructose corn syrup
- Corn syrup
- Fruit juice concentrate
- Corn sweetener
Hidden sugar is in all sorts of foods that you need to be on the lookout for if you want to break your sugar habit. There’s sugar in crackers, condiments, jarred marinara sauce, marinades, salad dressings, and more. You should familiarize yourself with all forms of sugar, so you know to avoid them when you read food labels.
Avoid artificial sugars
One mistake many people who want to break a sugar habit make is shifting to artificial sugar. Using artificial sugars, such as aspartame and sucralose, won’t help you end your sugar addiction. While they are lower in caloric intake, the sweetness can trigger your body to believe you are eating sugar. Artificial sweeteners make getting past your sugar addiction even more difficult. Not to mention, artificial sugars are not very healthy, and can also cause additional health problems.
Add your own sugar
Breaking the sugar habit is never easy, and no one expects you to quit sugar cold turkey. Doing so will make it more challenging to maintain the lifestyle in the long run. Instead, taper off the sugar slowly. If you can’t deal with not having something sweet from time to time, you can always add natural sweeteners to your food and beverages.
For instance, if you prefer to have your iced tea sweetened, but you want to give up the syrupy concoction, don’t automatically switch to unsweetened tea. Instead, drink unsweetened tea, but add a smaller amount of your own sugar, such as raw sugar or natural fruit juice. Doing so allows you to have control over the sweetness of the tea. You can then begin to gradually add less sweetener until you get to the point of drinking it without any sweetener at all.
These little tricks can help you gradually break your sugar habit without shocking your system by completely cutting it out.
Eat a healthy breakfast
The adage that breakfast is the most important meal of the day certainly holds true when it comes to curbing your sugar cravings. When you eat a substantial breakfast full of healthy protein, your body remains full for the first few hours of your day. When you don’t eat breakfast, you begin to have hunger pangs by mid-morning, which is a trigger to binge eat anything you can find. It places you in the position of taking in more sugar, especially if you tend to snack on convenience foods until lunchtime.
A healthy breakfast does not have to be complicated. A couple of boiled eggs and a slice of whole-grain toast is a filling breakfast that’s not too full of sugar. What you do want to avoid is carb-filled breakfasts such as pancakes, muffins, bagels, and other bread-based meals. They are filled with sugar and will leave you feeling hungry sooner than later.
Sugar intake is a difficult problem to combat, but it’s not impossible. Take the process one day at a time, making small changes as you go, and you will kick the sugar in no time.