Written by Holly Nunan
Too much refined sugar is detrimental to health, there’s no escaping that fact. It is harmful to your mind, can be hugely detrimental to weight loss efforts, dangerous to your teeth and just flat out bad for your health in general. The problem with sugar though is that it is in so much of what we consume on a daily basis, often without us really even knowing that it’s there, or to what extent.
If you find yourself craving sweet things, or if 2016 is your year to cut down the amount of sugar in your diet then we’re here to help!
Below are 9 ways to cut sugar from your diet without going crazy!
1. Be cautious with fruit
Fruit continues to be presented a healthy food option and it’s hard to argue against the many vitamins and minerals that you can get from including fruit in your diet. The bad news is that the sweetness in fruit comes from fructose; a naturally occurring sugar. Once consumed, it gets treated the exact same way by your body as eating a teaspoon of sugar would.
2. Limit alcohol
Lots of alcohol drinkers never pay a second thought to the quantity of sugar in their alcoholic beverage. Sweet pre-mix drinks and spirits that are consumed with soda contain plenty of sugar. Going for a diet soda option to mix with your alcohol is a super-simple way to cut out some unnecessary sugar.
3. Eat more chocolate!
Chocolate is a good resource for toning down your sweet tooth. But we’re not talking about regular chocolate; it’s dark chocolate that you want to turn to when you’re experiencing a craving for sweetness. Dark chocolate is a powerful way to wean yourself of regular chocolate as you still get a little bit of that sweet hit, but also the natural antioxidants and minerals are extremely beneficial for your health.
4. Eat fat
Of course fat has been made to sound like the devil when it comes to weight loss. There’s increasing awareness however that fat plays an important role in a healthy diet. You just need the right kind of fats. Unlike carbohydrates and sugars, when fat is consumed it doesn't increase your levels of insulin. Get two or three servings of healthy fats such as avocado, olive oil or ghee at each and every meal and this will help to sustain energy levels, prevent an energy crash where you might otherwise turn to a quick sweet fix.
5. Love yourself over sugar
Self-damaging binges frequently originate from low self-esteem, so concentrating on caring yourself can be a powerful tool in fighting the battle of the sweet tooth.
6. Increase your serotonin
When we are down or stressed out, we normally desire additional sweets to induce the production of serotonin. A hormone imbalance in serotonin could be to blame for the sugar cravings so try some gentle exercise and concentrate on getting as much high-quality sleep as possible. The time when you’re feeling flat is the time you’re most likely to dive for something sweet so look after yourself from a sleep and energy perspective, take time to meditate and relax so that you limit your bodies call for sweet foods.
7. Treat yourself with exercise
Exercise doesn't require a treat. Exercise itself is the treat. An important body of science says that physical exercise engages exactly the same sensory areas as other mood-enhancing benefits and creates comparable substance reactions. Removing the science, just understand that exercise is much more important than simply “getting fit” and “losing weight”. The right kind of exercises is basically a cure-all for so many health conditions.
8. Sugar in coffee is a killer!
If you’re like the majority of the population, you’ll enjoy a daily (or 5-time-daily) coffee hit. When consumed on its own, coffee is fine but when you add a teaspoon or more of sugar to each cup, the combined effect of multiple spoons of sugar day in and day out really adds up. If you like your coffee sweet, trying cutting back your sugar intake gradually by 25% each day and wean yourself off sugar. Or, try some of these fantastic tips for making your coffee super-healthy (and sugar-free!)
9. Try healthy alternatives
When you’ve lived for years on end with a high sugar diet, it can be very tough to cut sweetness out completely. If you’re someone that struggles to cut sugar, try maple syrup, honey, stevia or Xylitol as these substitutions provide a nice sweet hit, minus the empty sugary calories.
Quitting sugar is never easy and truth be told, most people that consume high amounts of sugar already know they are doing it, but it’s very difficult to break the habit. You’ve now got 9 tactics to finally break the habit so start by implementing at least one today and make a healthy change right away!
Holly Nunan is an Exercise Physiologist, mother of three and health blogger. Holly is a contributor to UpcomingHealth.com and HomeFitnessTalk.com. When she’s not writing or blogging about health and fitness you will probably find her at the gym!