The average person in the United States exceeds the recommended daily amount of sugar. And the reality is that the average person is aware of their excess sugar consumption. In fact, eight out of 10 Americans are trying to cut back on the amount of sugar they consume. The unfortunate reality is that reducing your sugar intake is easier said than done. It’s confusing to establish a plan that helps you cut back on sugar.
Natural Sugar vs. Added Sugar
Before we get into how to eliminate sugar from your diet, you have to understand the difference between natural and added sugars. Natural sugar exists in whole foods, for example, fructose in fruit. These naturally occurring sugars tend to be healthy because the foods that contain them also have micronutrients, antioxidants, and fiber. Added sugars, which are sweeteners put into food for extra flavor, have no benefits. These are the sugars you want to eliminate from your diet.
The Benefits Of Eliminating Sugar From Your Diet
Sugar isn’t necessarily a bad thing because the body needs sugar. The problem is the amount of added sugars you consume. Studies have shown that consuming excessive amounts of added sugars can lead to chronic health issues, such as:
- Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease
- High blood pressure
- Heart disease
- Colon and pancreatic cancer
- High cholesterol
- Kidney and liver disease
By reducing added sugars in your diet, you may reduce the risk of these chronic health issues. The Department of Agriculture encourages you to limit your added sugar intake to less than 10% of your daily calories. Unfortunately, the average American consumes three times that recommendation, averaging 17 teaspoons of added sugars per day. Reducing your consumption of sugary beverages is one of the easiest ways to decrease your sugar intake, but the following three-week plan will be of great assistance for completely eliminating sugar from your diet.
- Purge the kitchen: The more sugar you have in the house, the more you crave it. Additionally, the more sugar you eat, the more you want it! Purge sugary foods and beverages you have in your house, checking the nutrition labels for how much added sugar is in each food/drink. If the product says 5% daily value (DV) or less of added sugars, it has a lower sugar content. If the product has a 20% DV of added sugars, toss it out!
- Sticker your sweeteners: Put a label or sticky note on items like brown sugar or honey as a cautionary sign when you open the cabinet.
- Learn sugar lingo: In order to avoid sugar, you need to be able to identify the many names it goes by. Sound the alarm when you see syrup, cane, nectar, and words that end in “ose.” Watch out for fruit juice concentrate and skip glazed, honey-dipped, sticky, and BBQ options when dining out, as those are sneaky sources of sugar.
- Have a backup plan: Carry an emergency snack, for example, a banana or dehydrated fruit, to get a healthy dose of sugar when you crave it.
- Slash your sugar: It’s best to make incremental changes in your sugar habits because you can train yourself to lower your taste for sweets within two weeks.
- Focus on water: For a full week, try to only consume water in place of fruit juices and sodas, including diet sodas. Should you need some bubbles, unflavored seltzer water is an acceptable option.
- Measure carefully: When you need to include sugar, honey, maple syrup, or agave in a recipe, scale back the amount you need. For safe measure, put about half the amount of a serving because that is most likely sweeter than necessary.
- Play the long game: Now that you’ve upgraded your sugar knowledge and neutralized your sweet tooth, plan for long-term success. This new diet overhaul will become your new norm in about three months. Stick to what you’re doing and continue on to live a healthier lifestyle.
- Increase healthy fat intake: The name of the game here is good fats. We don’t want hydrogenated oils, trans fats, or saturated fats. Good fats help shut off receptors in the brain that cause sugar cravings. Focus on avocados, olive oil, coconut oil, and other sources of healthy fats.
- Stick to a schedule: Ideally, you should eat your meals and snacks at the same time every day. Having a routine keeps you on schedule and prevents you from getting caught off guard by hunger. You’ll be less likely to give in to something unhealthy if you stick to a regular eating schedule.