Sugar. A modern drug of choice that many of us grew up with never thinking that it would lead to serious health issues, like heart disease, diabetes, cancer, addiction, among others. You would think that the list of how harmful sugar is would be enough to scare anyone off, but as a powerful food, it certainly has it’s control over what’s in our food to what we prefer to eat. And to put it quite simple, it’s delicious and should be a part of your life…but, the rub, dear reader, is sugar really should be special and not part of our daily lives. The problem for many (and us!) is the daily consumption of sugar where we mindlessly place heaping spoonfuls of sugar in our coffee, mindlessly nibble on it in our muffins or sneak it for a mid-day treat. While we don’t think sugar should be completely eliminated, it should be greatly reduced where it’s basically only consumed for special occasions. Sound impossible? We promise you it’s not! Going off sugar is a process that doesn’t happen overnight. To help you gradually reduce sugar in your life, we’re sharing 12 tips that have worked for us in the past. Remember, going off sugar doesn’t have to be all or nothing. Give yourself time as you get sugar out of your life and don’t beat yourself up if you have an so-called ‘bad day.’ Sugar is a powerful bitch.
How to Partially Go Off Sugar
- Stop adding it in your coffee: We used to pile the sugar into our coffee. But it was brown sugar, so we thought we were ok. Not so much! By mid-morning, we were crashing hard and already consumed half of our sugar for the day. Start your week by adding the amount that you normal do, and gradually add less and less until you have no sugar in your coffee. Experience what it’s like to have no sugar in your coffee. What does it taste like? Do you hate it? Do you feel better? We love adding cinnamon to our coffee that offers a sweet taste without the sugar.
- Be aware of processed foods: Processed foods are sneaky bastards. Often loaded with sugar, processed foods are convenient but usually not the best option when you’re going off sugar. Read the labels, be informed and cook and eat fresh, homemade food whenever possible.
- Stay away from sugary drinks: This is an obvious one but might also take time if you have soda, juice, smoothie habit. Look at the pattern of how many sugary drinks you have in one day and reduce that number everyday until you drinking no drinks with added sweeteners.
- Avoid granola bars: We used to be granola bar addicts. Granola=oats and grains so they have to be good for you, right? Well, partially but today’s granola bars are often packed with sugar. Watch the labels and stash a bag of nuts in your bag to encourage healthy snacking as much as possible.
- Stop eating carb sweets: We are all about those crazy carbs, but after we eat a buttery, sweet croissant/muffin/scone (not all at once!) we are still hungry! Why the heck is that? These simple carbs mess with our blood sugar, giving us an instant fix that doesn’t last and also doesn’t provide our bodies with the nutrients that it so needs.
- Amp up the protein: One way to help quite those sugar cravings is to eat more protein-rich a.k.a filling foods. We aren’t talking about a steak but plant-based proteins to keep you revived up throughout the day like eggs, cheese, beans, nuts, avocados, or a protein drink, like the yummy Whole Food Protein Drink by Dr. Mark Hyman.
- Enhance your food with flavors: In addition to adding cinnamon to your morning cup of Joe, you can also add lemon to your water and enhance your food with coconut oil, vanilla, chicory, ginger, nutmeg, turmeric, and more. Experiment and have fun with new recipes as you figure out the best sugar substitutes.
- Satisfy your sweet tooth: By now you know how powerful that sweet tooth of yours is. It’s still going to want to have its needs feed, just be sure that you’re eating the right sweets like whole fruits. Try to avoid dried fruit since they are often packed with sugar.
- Write down your plan: Make your plan real by both writing down your goals and your meal plan for the week. This can also be a good place to chart any pitfalls (it’s ok!) and moments of weakness so that you can better understand what trigged the sugar binge and what you need to do next time to ensure that you’re both mentally and physically prepared.
- Have healthy food on hand: One of the easiest ways people revert to a sugar binge is because they have it on hand. As an occasional treat, enjoy sugar at birthday parties, over the holidays, or for a summer ice cream sundae, but don’t keep it around your house for everyday consumption. Stock up your fridge with fruits, whole grains, vegetables and you’ll be amazed at how easy it is for you to make the right decision when it isn’t around.
- Eat regularly: As basic as it sounds, your body needs food to sustain throughout the day. If you’re skipping meals or opting for a low-cal life, you’re not only depriving your mind and body of what it needs, you’re setting yourself up for a serious crash. Stick to healthy fats, wholesome and protein-rich as a source of your daily sustenance.
- Drink tons of water: Water is pretty awesome. Some sugar cravings might actually mean you’re dehydrated. Grab a huge glass of water with lemon and see how you feel afterwards.
- Bonus: Re-train your brain: For many, sugar has a mental hold on us. In order to combat that control, we have to mentally change the way we eat and think. This is also about making smarter, healthier choices, that over time, will have you craving that green juice over a milkshake. Time is on your side.
What are your go-to methods to stop eating too much sugar?