8 Tips to Go Sugar-Free
The average American adult consumes up to 22 teaspoons of added sugar daily. That’s in addition to any natural sugar consumed through food, fruits, and milk products. The number is terrifying. Excessive sugar consumption has often been compared to addiction and is linked to obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, cholesterol, and heart disease. Trying to quit sugar is extremely difficult and a challenge for several people. How does one ensure they go sugar-free and stick to it?
We give you 8 easy to follow tips to go sugar-free.
- Start Slow- Habits and eating patterns take time to form. Putting unrealistic expectations on yourself can cause pressure and further delay your commitment. If you consume excess sugar, start reducing sugar instead of quitting cold turkey. This will allow you leeway and support your willpower instead of testing it. Start with small changes such as reducing sugar in your coffee/tea (going from 3 spoons to 2), opt for sugar-free carbonated beverages such as Diet Coke or Coke Zero, ensure you get natural sugars instead of juices or artificial sugar.
- Avoid certain foods- While going sugar-free, it’s obvious that you will have to cut specific foods from your diet. Pastries, cookies, biscuits, desserts, and sodas are the known culprits. A lot of foods contain sugar in various forms so be very aware of what you are consuming. Naturally found sugar can be a part of a well balanced and healthy diet as its found in fruits, veggies, and grains. It is on you if you want to go a step further and cut off items such as milk, high sugar fruits, and dried fruits.
- Know the various names for Sugar- Food manufacturers are extremely clever and have created aliases and labels for sugar so as to fool consumers. Knowing these aliases or fake labels will make you stick to sugar-free life with ease. Some of the common names for sugar are- fructose, lactose, glucose, maltrose, sucrose, and dextrose. Sugar is also found in other items that can be found on food labels such as corn syrup, maltodextrin, molasses, agave, rice syrup, and maple syrup. This seems overwhelming but it will definitely help you in the long run and let you eat a clean, healthy, and green diet.
- Read Labels- Once you start to read food labels, you will be shocked by the amount of sugar you were consuming. Hidden sugar is found in several foods and processed items. Foods like tacos, frozen meals, boxed rice, crackers, baked beans, bread, rice, and pasta contain sugar in different forms. Reading nutritional information, serving sizes, and food labels will make you an aware consumer. It will also let you make informed decisions. Companies provide accurate information but take it with a pinch of salt and understand serving sizes of processed or packaged foods. Sugar is usually measured in grams on labels. Four grams is equivalent to one teaspoon.
- Say no to artificial sweeteners- People often resort to artificial sweeteners when quitting sugar. What they don’t realize is that they are trading one addiction for another. Artificial sweeteners can be 200 to 13,000 times sweeter than sugar. This fools your brain into thinking you are actually eating sugar. Sweeteners also trigger sugar cravings which renders quitting sugar pointless. It makes it harder for people to stick to a sugar-free life. Artificial sweeteners can cause several side effects and diseases. You will find artificial sweeteners in products labeled as sugar-free, low sugar, or low calorie. Common artificial sweeteners such as Splenda, Sweet ‘N Low are widely available and sold. If you just need a sugar replacement for baking or your coffee/tea, try naturally found substances such as Stevia, or Erythritol.
- Be Realistic- Many people think of quitting sugar as a punishment and approach it with trepidation and fear. Instead, look at it providing your body with healthy nutrients and using sugar as a treat or saving it for special occasions. Limiting sugar intake is completely possible and you can have a weekly treat or monthly treat to reward your body. After quitting sugar, even mildly sweet items may taste exceptionally sweet. Use fruits and vegetables to get your natural sugars and pick smaller portions or items to stay on track with your health and sugar-free lifestyle.
- Focus on flavor- A lot of things can taste perfectly fine even without sugar. It is a matter of adapting your palate and focusing on flavors instead of sugar. Spices, herbs, seasonings, and garnishes can make a whole world of difference to meals and desserts. Your coffee will taste amazing with a few drops of vanilla or cinnamon powder. You can also add cinnamon or nutmeg to unflavored yogurt and it will be a great healthy snack. The idea is to realize that sugar alone does not make a meal and enhance the flavors of each dish or drink with variations and experiments.
- Don’t drink Sugar- People make the mistake of assuming juices are healthy but packaged or frozen juices contain high amounts of sugar rendering their benefits nil. Wine also contains sugar, the naturally derived sugar found in grapes. Excessive amounts of sugar are found in soda, juices, canned drinks, flavored tea/coffee, flavored milk, and tonic. We don’t realize how much sugar we are drinking until we stop and read labels or notice our drinking habits. Cocktails also include mixers or sugar syrup which is high in sugar.