Is sugar holding you back from reaching your dieting goals? High sugar diets will not only make you put on weight, but they can have an impact on your mood and cause serious health problems. People often obsess over their fat intake, and don’t realise that a high sugar diet can be just as bad.
Completely cutting sugar out of your diet is dangerous, as our brains run on glucose, and avoiding sugar altogether can lead to hypoglycemia. We need a certain amount of sugar in our diets, but these days people are eating far more sugar than their body requires
Lots of food contain sugar, including fruit and lactose which is found in milk. Eating a healthy amount of these foods is fine, we require sugar to help fuel our body and keep our brain functioning properly. However, a lot of people end up eating foods that contain sugar with very limited nutritional value, such as sweets and chocolate. Added sugars shouldn’t make up more than 5% of the energy (calorie intake) you get from food and drink each day. This is about 30g of sugar a day for those aged 11 and over.
Research has shown sugar can increase your risk of heart disease and diabetes, and cause fatty liver disease, memory loss and obesity. David Gillespie, author of ‘Sweet Poison Quit Plan’ explains that sugar systematically destroys your organs until it is too late. ‘First the liver, then the pancreas, then the kidneys, and ultimately the heart.’ There’s a new no sugar movement happening, and it’s time you got on board. Watch this video ‘sugar, the bitter truth’, which has been viewed nearly 6 million times.
Instead of a sweet treat, sugar should be seen as sweet poison. It’s OK to have a small amount of sugar in your diet, especially if you only have natural sugars. However, eating a lot of sugar on a daily basis is extremely bad for your health. Lots of people eat dangerous amounts of sugar every day without even realising it. The average Briton consumes 238 teaspoons of sugar each week. Something you might assume is fairly healthy, such as a fruit juice drink, can contain shocking amounts of sugar.
You will feel so much better once you are free from the clutches of your sugar addiction. You may think that you can’t live without sugar, well, that’s because you are addicted to it. In reality, it is possible to cut down on your sugar intake, and your palate eventually adjusts. Stop eating empty calories, improve your health and lose weight by kicking your sugar addiction today with these simple steps.
Bonus: Download a free checklist that will also help you take steps to cutting out sugar from your diet. Includes a list of hidden sugars to look out for.
1. Learn to read food labels so you can spot sugar
Teach yourself how to spot sugar when you are deciding which foods to buy. Many people are oblivious to how much sugar some products contain, because food and drink brands have figured out how to disguise sugar. There are lots of different types of sugar, you should avoid buying products that contain large amounts of any of the following ingredients: fructose, glucose, maltose, molasses, hydrolysed starch, corn sugar, dextrose, brown sugar, molasses, agave, brown rice syrup, cane syrup, sucralose. Ingredients on food labels are listed in order of the ingredients it contains the most of, so if sugar is listed near the beginning, that’s an obvious warning sign.
Often foods that are labelled as ‘low fat’ will contain a lot of sugar to make them more tasty and appealing. You will find that even a lot of savoury foods will contain unexpected amounts of sugar, for example ready meals and processed foods. Foods that are high in sugar will contain more than 22.5g of total sugars per 100g and foods that are low in sugar will contain 5g total sugar or less per 100g. You can find out more about the terms used in food labels and what they mean here.
Know how much of each food type you should be consuming per meal, and on a daily basis. According to the NHS, an adult’s daily reference intakes should be 90 grams of sugar, 70 grams of fat, 260 grams of carbohydrates, 50 grams of protein and 6 grams of salt. Click here for more information.
Also check out this great list of the top 50 healthy food blogs created by Dave Smith from Make Your Body Work.
2. Clear out your cupboards and get rid of foods packed with unhealthy sugar
If you truly want to kick your sugar addiction, then you need to get rid of the majority of the sugary foods in your kitchen. Keep some foods that don’t contain refined sugar such as fruit and honey and remove any unhealthy carbohydrate foods, like sweets, biscuits, chocolate and cakes. If you don’t keep these foods in your kitchen, then if you are craving something naughty, you will have to negotiate with yourself, and decide if that craving is worth leaving home and going out to the store to buy the food.
Make sure you check through your cupboards properly. Rather than just guessing what foods might contain sugar, actually check the ingredients to be sure. The last thing you want is a sneaky bar of milk chocolate or some tempting biscuits lurking at the back of your cupboard.
The saying ‘out of sight out of mind’ is very relevant when it comes to your sugar addiction. You might still get the occasional craving, but at least you won’t be opening your cupboards to shelves packed with temptation. It’s so much easier to reduce your sugar intake if you only stock healthy foods in your fridge and cupboards.
3. Rethink your weekly food shop by cutting out anything with refined sugar
By learning about food labels and how to spot sugar, you will be more informed when doing your weekly or monthly food shop. This is a key part of kicking your sugar addiction, because if you are still buying sweet, sugary foods at the supermarket then you are only setting yourself up to fail.
Change the way you look at food shopping, instead of looking for sweet treats, look for products that will serve a nutritional purpose. If there isn’t anything nutritional in a product, then you are wasting your money on empty calories. You will feel much better when you walk out of the supermarket if you have bought a great selection of food that will make you healthy.
Here are some tips for sugar free supermarket shopping:
- Read all the labels carefully.
- Don’t go food shopping when you are really hungry, you will only end up buying rubbish.
- Before you make your way to the till, check through your trolley or shopping basket to make sure you haven’t picked up anything you shouldn’t have.
- Shop for nutritional foods, rather than sweet treats.
- If you know you are likely to give in and buy something naughty, take someone who understands your goals with you who will help you make the right choices.
4. Have sweet alternatives available to manage your cravings
The last thing you want to do is completely cut out all sweet foods. If you are used to eating a fair amount of sugar, this will be almost impossible. When you cut down on your sugar intake, you will probably get occasional cravings for something sweet.
Instead of reaching for biscuits, milk chocolate or cakes, have something that still tastes sweet but isn’t as bad for you. For example, sugar free dark chocolate (ideally 85%) is a good alternative. You can also naturally sweeten your food with spices such as nutmeg, cinnamon and cardamom instead of adding extra sugar.
If you don’t have a sweet alternative available, you will be more tempted to go for something unhealthy. We all deserve a sweet treat every now and then, it just doesn’t have to be full of sugar.
5. Make sure you eat foods that will fill you up so you don’t reach for sugar because you are hungry
We often reach for something sugary when we are starving hungry, thinking it will fill us up. Eating sugar won’t fill you up, and you will probably end up eating more bad food to fill the void. If you eat the right foods you should feel fuller for longer. For example, meals with large amounts of protein are far more likely to fill you up and prevent you from snacking on unhealthy foods throughout the day.
Take the time to plan your meals so that you eat the right things and eat foods that will make you feel full. Also consider the foods you are snacking on, try eating nuts (which are high in protein) instead of a sugary snack. Good fats are important too, and can help to fill you up. Fat often gets demonised, but we need a certain amount of good fats in our diet. If you cut out fats completely you will probably find you get hungry in between meals.
6. Never skip breakfast
If you want to stop your mid morning sugar cravings, avoid skipping breakfast. If you don’t eat a decent breakfast, you might reach for something sweet to fill the void. This is one of the most important parts of eating a healthy diet. It’s important to start your day right and fuel yourself with the energy you need to get through the day.
Try and eat a high protein breakfast which will make you feel full until lunch time. Avoid cereals at all costs, as they are usually full of dangerous amounts of sugar. You can get healthy cereals that don’t contain refined sugar, but you need to check labels properly. For example, cereals with dried fruit may not contain any added sugar, but the dried fruit contains far more sugar than you need. Plan your breakfasts every week and make sure you have the ingredients you need to make a healthy breakfast each morning.
7. Stop buying food on the go, prepare meals in advance to take with you
People really slip up when they buy food on the go. You would assume that it would be fairly easy to find something healthy whilst on the go, but it’s not. Stop off at a standard petrol station and you will struggle to find anything that isn’t full of sugar, salt, fat and preservatives.
Small convenience stores and mini supermarkets are marginally better, but even their so called healthy food is often full of sugar and salt. For example, a lot of the pre-cooked meat which you would assume is healthy is packed with salt and sugar.
Anything with a sauce or marinade usually contains a lot of sugar. If you prepare food to take with you in advance, then you won’t have the tricky challenge of trying to find something healthy at your local services. If you don’t have any food with you to keep hunger at bay then you will also be more likely to buy junk food and unhealthy snacks. Here are some tips for preparing meals in advance:
- Make sure you go food shopping each week so that you have the ingredients to make all your meals.
- Stock up on tupperware so that you have something to carry your pre-prepared meals.
- As well as meals, buy or make some healthy snacks to take with you when you are on the go. For example, homemade protein flapjacks or unsalted nuts.
- Don’t go into a convenience store when you are really hungry as you will be more likely to by an unhealthy snack.
8. Make the right choices when eating out at restaurants
It can be quite difficult to control what you eat when eating out at restaurants. It’s also really hard to resist ordering a sweet pudding and watch everyone else eat theirs. If you really want to kick your sugar addiction then you need to make the right choices when eating out as well as eating in at home. There’s no point eating well at home and then ruining your hard work by eating the wrong things at restaurants. When eating out at restaurants try to:
- Choose puddings with very little sugar where possible, or at least select puddings with naturally occurring sugars such as fruit based puddings.
- Have a sweet alternative for when you get home so that it makes it easier to resist ordering a pudding.
- Watch out for sauces and glazes, they often contain a lot of sugar.
- Avoid ordering sugary drinks, stick with tap water or fizzy water.
9. Explain your goals to your friends and family so they can help you rather than hinder you
If you don’t explain to your friends and family what you are trying to achieve they may encourage you to eat badly without realising it. If everyone is helping you then it’s easier to make the right choices. The last thing you want is a friend offering you cakes and cookies when you are trying hard to kick your sugar addiction.
10. Drink water and herbal tea instead of drinks packed with sugar
When you clear your home of sugar, remember to also get rid of fizzy drinks, squash, and fruit juices with a very high sugar content. A lot of people think they have a low sugar diet but forget to include the sugary drinks they have on a daily basis. Swap sugary drinks for herbal tea and water. To make water a bit more exciting add fresh lemon or lime.
11. When you get a sugar craving, wait 15 minutes and see how you feel
Whenever you feel the urge to reach for something sweet, give yourself 10 to 15 minutes before you decide whether you really want it. Try not to eat on impulse as you will probably end up having more sugar than you need. After waiting a while the urge may pass and you might realise you don’t need a naughty treat after all.
12. Choose a natural sweetener instead of refined sugar
There are healthier options when it comes to sweetening your food. Stevia is a good option as it doesn’t raise your blood sugar levels. It’s a natural sweetener, that’s derived from the stevia rebaudiana plant. Stevia doesn’t contain any calories, and it’s 200 times sweeter than sugar in the same concentration.
Find a natural sweetener (such as Stevia) that you like, instead of going for processed pure cane sugar. If you are finding it hard to stop adding sugar to your food,then switch to brown sugar and gradually reduce the amount you have. Then eventually you will be able to rely on a natural sweetener instead.
13. Remind yourself of the dangers of sugar
Those who are unaware of the dangers of sugar probably don’t realise how bad it is and don’t hold back on their sugar intake. If you know the health risks of eating too much sugar you will be more motivated to kick your addiction.
14. Set health and fitness goals to keep you motivated
Another way to get motivated to give up sugar is to set yourself some health and fitness goals. You can then focus on your goals and have a good reason to cut down your sugar intake. Plus you will be getting fit and healthy at the same time.
15. Don’t try to do too much too soon, cutting out sugar can take time
Avoid cutting out all types of sugar from your diet completely and in a short space of time. Not only is this extremely difficult but it also isn’t healthy. We need a small amount of (natural) sugar in our diet.
You will also be more likely to relapse if you push yourself to cut out sugar completely too quickly. You need to reduce the amount of sugar you have gradually. Set yourself some achievable goals to start off with, and review your diet as a whole.
16. Eat little and often so your sugar levels don’t drop
Try and eat regularly, don’t go without eating for hours on end. Eat three meals and two snacks or five small meals a day. If you don’t eat regularly, your blood sugar levels will drop. This will make you feel hungry and more likely to crave sweet sugary snacks. Plan your meals and snacks in advance, this will help you to eat healthy on the go and maintain your healthy eating goals.
17. Exercise regularly to stay healthy and boost your energy levels
Kicking your sugar addiction is a great first step to improving your health. However, you still need to exercise to stay fit and healthy. Also, if you exercise regularly you will boost your energy levels, which means you are less likely to need a sugary snack as an energy boost.
You will find the more you exercise, the more you want to reach for healthy foods. After a tough workout, the last thing you want to do is put unhealthy food in your body, you need quality food to keep your strength up. Try and do exercise on a regular basis to keep your sugar cravings at bay.
Bonus: Download a free checklist that will also help you take steps to cutting out sugar from your diet. Includes a list of hidden sugars to look out for.
Let us know how you get on and please share this post on your social channels so your friends can join you on this healthier road.