There are countless reasons to eliminate added sugar from your diet, however there is no reason to be scared of sugar, if you have an awareness mindset!
We all know that…
- It saps your health,
- contributes to a growing waistline,
- leaves you feeling tired, moody, and blah,
- and it fills your body with empty calories that can make you feel like you’re riding a blood sugar roller coaster.
And that roller coaster has the potential to end up in calamity, as too much sugar can lead you down the track headed for disease.
There are a few things you should know before you get started. This challenge is about eliminating ADDED SUGAR from your diet.
This does NOT include natural sugars, like those found in whole foods like fruits and veggies.
Whole foods contain numerous health-promoting benefits (like fibre, vitamins and minerals) that are really good for you and make valuable additions to your diet.
It’s when we start ADDING extra sugar to our food and drinks that it becomes a problem. Sugar goes by many names.
This makes it super easy for it to hide.
“A healthy outside starts from the inside” – Robert Urich
There are a few basic TYPES of sugar you should know about.
Glucose – This is the kind of sugar that’s in your bloodstream, after your digestive system breaks down your food.
It’s the purest form of sugar – and it’s what fuels your body with energy. It also occurs naturally in some foods.
Fructose – This is a natural form of sugar is commonly found in fruits. However, it has to be processed by your liver to become usable. For the most part, our livers are designed to handle the amount of naturally occurring fructose that is found in fresh, whole foods. But eating too much fructose (more on that later!) can increase the likelihood your body will store it and lead to a cascade of potential problems.
Lactose – This is a naturally occurring sugar that’s found in plain (unsweetened) dairy products.
Sucrose – This is a combo of 50% glucose and 50% fructose. This is table sugar, plus you’ll find it in a lot of packaged foods.
High-Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) – This is a manufactured form of sugar that is similar in makeup to table sugar or sucrose … except it contains a little more fructose, at 55%.
Your body metabolizes fructose differently than glucose, and consuming too much fructose over time has been shown to contribute to health problems, from overloading your liver and weight gain to diabetes, heart disease, and some forms of cancer.
Plus, your body gets no nutritional benefit from those “empty” calories.
10 Tips for Eliminating Sugar
To your brain, sugar is a reward, and if you eat a lot of it, you’re simply reinforcing that reward! That can make it challenging to break the sugar habit. Here are some tips to make it easier:
- Go cold turkey. Quitting all at once means you will get your taste buds used to a lower-sugar diet faster. That’s good news! But … if that seems overwhelming, you can go for a more moderate approach, cutting back a little bit every day.
- Stay hydrated. This can help you avoid headaches and keep your digestive system on-point. And since we often mistake thirst for hunger, it can help keep food cravings at bay.
- Make time to sleep. When you don’t get enough sleep, your body’s hunger hormones can become disrupted, affecting both the mechanisms that make you want to eat AND that let you know when you’re full. This will set you up for even more cravings!
- Eat protein. It keeps you feeling fuller longer, and can help keep your energy up if you’re dragging because you feel low on sugar. Good protein sources include fish, poultry, and legumes.
- Fill up on fibre. In addition to keeping your digestive system happy, this also will help you feel full. BONUS: a fiber-rich diet can assist with blood sugar management. Veggies and legumes can help!
- Exercise. Intentionally move your body for 20-30 minutes every day to cut stress, boost your energy, and improve your sleep.
- Distract your taste buds. If you are having a craving, try eating a sour pickle or other bitter/spicy-hot food instead. Follow it up with a drink of water.
- Stay busy. Now’s the time to check some items off your to-do list! Organize a room, read a book, learn something new! Avoid “entertainment eating” (when you eat because you’re bored, or out of habit).
- Change your routine. This allows you to avoid activities you normally associate with eating sweets. For example, if you usually hit the drive-through for an iced coffee (and maybe a treat to go along with it), make your own coffee at home.
- Go to bed earlier. If you are having a craving at night and all else fails, make it an early bedtime. Your body could likely use the rest!
Or you can
- Join the FULLY IN BALANCE 21-Day No Sugar Challenge: To feel control of your food by removing only ONE ingredient from your diet and achieve some if not all the 10 tips above.