10 Ways To Cut Out Added Sugar From Your Meals
We all know that we should eat less sugar and that it isn't very good for us. So why do we keep eating it? Well first off, let's just admit that it tastes really good.
When we consume sugar it releases dopamine in an area of our brains associated with motivation, novelty, and reward. (1)
Have you ever looked at a sweet treat and thought, "I deserve this today!" There's that reward message kicking in!
Let's not forget the cultural traditions that are tied to sweets... birthday parties usually involve a cake. And childhood celebrations like passing a test involve going out for ice cream.
Basically, these messages start while we're young and continue on into adulthood.
So if you're confused why you can't stop reaching for that sweet treat at night - it might be tied more to your emotions than you think.
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On the health side of things, more and more studies are proving that sugar plays a pivotal role in many devastating illnesses including cancer, heart disease, diabetes and Alzheimer's.
But aside from that, I want you to ask yourself right now...
What does it feel like for you when you eat too much sugar in a day? Do you get a headache, brain fog, stomach ache, mood swings, or lack motivation?
Personally, I've felt many of these symptoms in the past with my own sugar addiction.
I've had major headaches and a big case of brain fog. And for me, those symptoms were enough to kick sugar to the curb.
So, you're probably here reading this article for a reason.
Something inside you is already telling you that it's time to eat less sugar each day. And that's amazing!
The key here is to take it one step at a time.
Many people are not able to quit sugar overnight, and that's totally okay. It's all about the baby steps.
I'm going to suggest 10 easy ways to eat less sugar below.
I recommend choosing one thing from the list and giving it a try.
Then, when you're ready to try another one and keep going from there.
Okay, let's get to the list...
10 Easy Ways To Eat Less Sugar
1. Read food labels carefully.
Unfortunately, manufacturers like to hide sugar in practically everything! So if you're buying processed foods, look through the food label for sugar content to see how much sugar it truly contains.
Usually, you'll find sugars listed in grams (1 teaspoon is roughly equivalent to 4 grams of sugar).
Watch out for different sugar terminology. There are many different types of sugars out there including corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup, sucrose, fruit juice concentrates, sucrose, dextrose, cane sugar, molasses, turbinado sugar, brown sugar, agave, and honey.
Also, don't forget that many organic products can have way too high of sugar content as well! Many sugars have been marketed as "healthier alternatives" including cane sugar, molasses, turbinado sugar, brown sugar, agave, and honey. But the truth is, sugar is sugar and these organic sugars need to be consumed in limited quantities as well.
Once you start reading the food labels, you'll quickly learn that almost everything processed has too much sugar! So, one of my biggest tips is to try to limit the number of processed foods your purchase at the grocery store. Instead, make more things at home from scratch!
2. Avoid flavored yogurt
Do you love yogurt? Well sadly, many flavored yogurts contain just as much sugar as what's in a candy bar!
Skip the high sugar content that comes with flavored yogurt, and buy the "plain" option instead.
Plain yogurt is a great way to pack more nutrients into your diet through toppings... At home, you can add fresh fruit, hemp seeds, chia seeds, cinnamon or shredded coconut.
3. Limit Store-bought Ketchup, Tomato Sauce, and Dressings
Sadly, most sauces, salad dressings and ketchup from the grocery store also contain high amounts of sugar. Try to limit your use of them as much as possible. You can also make your own like these homemade salad dressings.
4. Cut out Sugar Drinks
Beverages like specialty coffee drinks or soda pop can make up a big amount of your daily sugar intake.
Many people that consume sugary drinks daily aren't drinking enough water.
If you're one of these people, try focusing more on the amount of water your drinking throughout the day rather than the amount of soda you're NOT drinking.
For example, if you focus on drinking 6-8 glasses of water a in a day, you will have less time to focus on the sugary stuff that you're missing.
Also, a great tip is to trade in your normal sodas for something carbonated without sugar like La Croix Sparkling Water.
5. Keep sugary snacks out of your home and office
It's difficult to snack on the bad stuff when it isn't there!
Instead, try eating more veggies and dip, homemade kale chips, or apples with a bit of nut or seed butter when you're craving a snack.
6. Limit desserts
If you're used to eating desserts after dinner, it's time to start cutting back.
Over the next few weeks, try limiting desserts by using a bowl of fresh fruit in replacement of what you might normally eat.
The goal over time would be to eliminate desserts almost completely from your diet so that you are only eating them occasionally.
7. Be open to the emotional issues you might have around sugar
Sometimes our cravings for sugar stem from something deeper. The next time you feel a sugar craving coming on, pay attention to what emotional feelings you were experiencing beforehand.
8. Eat regularly
People often skip a meal because they are too busy. But if you're skipping lunch, it's really easy to want to grab a quick candy bar around 3:00. That's when you're feeling that sugar crash!
For many people, when they don't eat regularly, their blood sugar levels drop and they immediately want to go for the sugary snacks.
You can avoid this by eating 3 regular meals a day. And if you're craving a snack in between these meals, head for something like our suggestions in #5.
9. Eat protein and/or fats at every meal
Eating a protein or healthy fat with each meal will help to control your blood sugar and keep it from rising or falling too quickly. They will also help you feel fuller longer.
*One great healthy fat to try and incorporate daily are avocados.
10. Try drinking more tea
If you're not hungry, but you still find yourself craving sugar, have a cup of herbal tea! My personal favorite is peppermint. This is also a great way to stay hydrated.
Sometimes the act of comfort you get from sipping a cup of tea is just the fix for what you're really craving.
Small changes can really make a big difference over time when cutting out sugar! If you're currently wondering how to eat less sugar, give some of these tips a try and see how they work for you!
What do you find triggers your sugar cravings the most?