How to Eliminate Sugar from Your Life
People around you are addicted to sugar – may be, you’re in the same league too. Our bodies need sugar, but it needs to be the right kind of sugar. Processed refined sugars satisfy sweet cravings but add nothing to your diet nutritionally and can leave us deficient in minerals and vitamins, which prompts the body to crave more sugar. As we reach for the wrong kind of sugar we become trapped in a vicious circle of crave, satisfy, crave as the brain attempts over and over again to prompt the body to intake the vitamins and minerals it is deficient in. This is the addiction cycle.
Now that sugar’s negative impact on health is universally recognized, it’s time to declare war on sugar’s empty calories and begin to enjoy the long-term health benefits gained from a reduced sugar diet.
Tweak Your Breakfast
Whilst other meals and snacks might have more than their fair share too, it is breakfast that can stand the maximum adjustment in the war on sugar. It is relatively easy to address and put right so that the most important meal of the day is also the healthiest. A good start is to swap the processed supermarket cereals for porridge, whole wheat biscuits or shredded wheat pillows. You can cut out up to 70g of sugar (per week) from your diet simply by replacing a bowl of sugar breakfast cereal with plain cereal.
Make porridge with skimmed or semi skimmed milk and avoid added sugar; instead you can add a mashed or sliced banana or opt for a few chopped dried apricots. Similarly, swapping toast with granary or wholemeal bread is a better idea, especially when you can go without honey, marmalade, jam, or chocolate.
Be Careful What You Drink
You get a quarter of the processed refined sugars in your diet from sweetened drinks alone. One 500ml can of cola contains a massive 17 cubes of processed sugar. You could drink it down in a minute, but would you seriously sit and eat 17 cubes of sugar in one go? But it is not only the fizzy stuff that is packed full of sugar, some of the juices and squashes on the market have almost the same amounts.
Time for the healthy alternative. Water is always the best for the body. It is what nature intended and contains no calories at all and the human body expends no energy to use it. However, if you must go for a sweet drink the very best option is to invest in a good quality juicer and make your own shakes and smoothies, with the potential of having a soda maker. This way your body can take optimal advantage of natural sugars, vitamins and minerals when they are at their freshest and easiest to process. A delicious freshly prepared smoothie made from fruits and vegetables is the best way to give your body a health kick.
Remember to Read the Label
The road to a ‘sugar-free’ life starts with you being more aware of what’s on the label, and you cannot cut it out if you do not even know it’s there. You may want to avoid a product even when the label says glucose, sucrose, maltose, fructose, molasses, fruit juice, corn syrup, invert sugar, etc. As a rule, if the ingredient ends in ‘ose’ or ‘ase’, it’s a sugar and is usually refined and processed. Know that a food is high in sugar if it contains 22.5g or more of total sugar in a 100g serving, and with a food containing these different sugar types, it can easily go beyond that upper limit. Educate yourself about these different names, so that you turn the other way when you see a product containing added sugar in any form.
Cook From Scratch
These days we are about saving time and it is difficult to deny the convenience of ready made meals, sauces and dressings. Unfortunately, just like the fizzy pop, these ready-made options contain dangerous amounts of hidden sugars. Pasta and meat sauces including ketchups are the biggest culprits but so are biscuits and even potato snacks. In fact, hidden sugars are in virtually everything ready-made where they not only make the product more palatable masking the poor taste of bulk processed ingredients but also act as a preservative to increase shelf life. Making your own is by far the best way forward.
Making your own basic pasta sauce is easy and successful family recipes get passed down through generations. Be very careful with vinaigrettes and ensure the ratio is no greater than three parts oil to one part vinegar. You can opt for walnut oil, olive oil, and avocado oil. You can also use cider vinegar or plain white vinegar in a pinch and add a pinch of salt, a bit of lemon juice, and some dried herbs to make your salad dressing.
Do not let nutrient deficiencies get in your way
Many people do not know that their sugar cravings are also the result of nutrient deficiencies. Experts have found that several nutrients, such as vitamin B3, chromium, and magnesium can help stabilize blood sugar levels. You can increase your intake of foods high in vitamin D3 and omega3 fatty acids by opting for soy milk, egg yolks, and fatty fish, like mackerel, sardine, trout and salmon. A good multivitamin supplement may also help prevent nutrient deficiencies. Similarly, tryptophan can lower sugar cravings, and tyrosine improve your mood to prevent emotional eating. Cinnamon supplements have been found to help regulate insulin levels.
Find Alternatives to Keep You on Track
The good news is that it takes only a short time for sugar cravings to satisfied with the healthy fructose sugars found in fruit and vegetables. Suddenly strawberries, carrots and peas taste a whole lot sweeter and instead of raiding the cupboards for biscuits or the fridge for cola, you find you’d prefer an apple, handful of sweet raisins or a fresh glass of orange juice. You will soon learn what works best for you. Berries contain a natural substance xylitol which is freely available commercially as a sugar alternative and can be used in pretty much the same way as sugar in cooking and hot drinks when reducing refined sugar intake. Manuka honey especially or any local honey is a natural antibiotic and antihistamine, is always a sound alternative.
Here are some other quick tips to put you on strong ground in your battle against sugar:
- Do not keep treats in the house. A huge tub of ice cream waiting to be devoured will never let you sleep until you go and eat it.
- Stay away from mixed alcohol drinks. There is a lot of sugar in a cosmo, a gin and tonic, and a rye and coke. There is sugar in both the alcohol and the mixer so it is a unhealthy double hit.
- Avoid commercial or flavoured yogurt and go natural and add your own sweetness. Ready-made desserts and yogurts can contain more sugar than you find in a candy bar.
- Get plenty of sleep. The more tired you are, the higher the temptation is to resort to sugar to counteract the exhaustion.
- Don’t get over hungry. Eat little, well and often. Our brains have learnt that refined sugar gives us instant energy. It is short lived and leaves us craving the rush more when we crash.
- Add spices to your diet. Experts believe cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon, coriander, and cardamom can help reduce sugar cravings.
- Drink plenty of water and stay dehydrated to support natural detoxification.
- Live an active life. Dance, exercise or try yoga, anything that will boost your energy levels, stabilize your blood sugar and lower cravings.
It may take 3-4 days to overcome your withdrawal from refined sugar, but these tips are sure to help. Just stay motivated and keep putting up a fight against the sweet enemy they call ‘sugar’.