Everyone knows consuming too much sugar is unhealthy. Sugar is linked to many obesity-related illnesses as well as accelerates skin aging and cellular aging. Sugar cravings also play a major role in weight gain, food addiction and binge eating.
The body is able to process small amounts of sugar, a simple carbohydrate, and convert it into energy. However larger amounts of sugar end up being stored as fat. Add to that, sugar affects insulin resistance and blood sugar levels in the blood, in turn spiking hunger, and causing us to crave more sugary / carbohydrate foods.
So for those of us looking to shed the pounds, reducing our sugar intake can make a significant difference in weight loss.
Unfortunately, sugar cravings aren’t easy to ignore. Firstly, sugar is hidden in virtually all processed foods from dried fruit to tomato sauce. Secondly, sugar is highly addictive and a controversial new study shows people can experience drug-like withdrawal symptoms when cutting sugar out completely.
Although consuming small amounts of sugar now and then is okay, you should try to cut back on sugar whenever possible. So here are 10 tips to help you beat your sweet tooth.
1. Remove temptations
As with giving up any unhealthy food, we need to remove all temptations from our homes. We’re much more likely to give in to sugar cravings if we’ve got some sugary snacks stashed away in our kitchens than if we have to drive to the store to buy some.
If you share a home with someone who regularly eats sugary snacks then ask her to hide her sugary foods and drinks so that you aren’t tempted to raid them.
2. Choose low or no sugar drinks
Sugar sweetened beverages are one of the biggest causes of our overconsumption of sugar. In fact, just one can of coke contains more grams of sugar than our daily recommended allowance.
So swap sodas, energy drinks, juices and sweetened teas for water, unsweetened herbal tea, and an occasional seltzer. Herbal tea leaves from Mountain Rose Herbs come in a huge variety of wonderful flavors and make delicious iced teas as well as hot tea. Fresh fruits, herbs and vegetables are wonderful for flavoring water and it’s very easy to make in a fruit infuser water pitcher or fruit infuser water bottle.
Most store-bought sugar-free drinks use artificial sweeteners, which aren’t healthy and often increase sugar cravings. And colorants used in these drinks can damage your teeth. So overall what you’ll buy in the store isn’t your best option.
If you must use sweetener then choose 100% stevia. It is natural, from the stevia plant, and calorie-free. My favorite brand is Now Foods Liquid Better Stevia because just a few drops sweetens my coffee unlike any other brand I have tried.
3. Drink more water
Water is the healthiest liquid we can drink. By drinking mostly water throughout the day and following a healthy diet, we will significantly reduce our sugar intake. And drinking more water has been shown to increase weight loss.
Also, start associating hunger with thirst as we often confuse these signals. Then associate thirst with water rather than other types of drinks. This can help to develop a healthy habit for drinking water rather than drinking juice or soda.
4. Flavor coffee and tea
A lot of people take sugar in their coffee and tea. Going black could be a small way to cut down on your sugar intake. However, if you find these drinks taste bland without a sugar kick, then you can try different flavorings.
For example, you can try an L theanine dosage to give you an energy boost and some added sweetness. Cinnamon meanwhile can be great for adding a kick of spice to a morning coffee or tea. For those that try these flavorings and still need added sweetener, you might try raw honey instead of refined sugar. While raw honey may not be the healthiest option as it is a sugar, the fact that it’s a more natural sugar than refined sugar makes it easier for the body to process and therefore less likely to be stored as fat.
5. Add fruit to cereal
If you’re used to sprinkling sugar on your low carb cereal and you can’t eat it without this added sweetness, then a healthier option could be to eat cereal with fruit. Bananas, strawberries, raspberries and blueberries are some of the most common fruits to have with cereal, with the berries being lowest in sugar. These fruits contain sugar (carbs) in the form of fructose – and while it is still a form of sugar, it is a healthier form due to being more natural and easier to process, plus all the vitamins and fibre can help to aid digestion.
Fruit also is a sweet choice for dessert.
6. Switch ketchup for salsa
If you’ve got a penchant for ketchup then this, too, could be something you want to control. This is because most modern ketchups have added sugar to help make them sweet. So for a healthier sauce option, try switching to salsa instead of ketchup. Salsa is made up of tomatoes and peppers and tends to contain no added sugar (check the label). It’s high in vitamins and could be much better for you.
7. Choose dark chocolate
If you’re a chocoholic looking to cut down on sugar, opting for dark chocolate could be a way of still getting your cocoa fix without eating excess amounts of sugar. Most dark chocolates contain less sugar, hence the more bitter taste. Of course, you should be careful, as some brands do try to overcompensate by adding more sugar than traditional milk chocolate. You can find a list of low sugar dark chocolates online.
8. Be wary of hidden sugars
There are many packaged foods that contain hidden sugars that you may not have even considered. For example, many salad dressings are packed with sugar, which can instantly turn a healthy salad into something unhealthy! In fact when it comes to any sauce, always read the information on the nutrition label to get an idea of the sugar content. It is worth reading the label with many foods including ready-made meals and canned foods, which also tend to have added sugar.
9. Allow occasional treats
While you don’t want to indulge too frequently, allowing yourself the occasional treat can help you to keep sugar cravings at bay. If you’ve eaten lots of sugar for much of your life, your body is unlikely to be satisfied by low sugar foods and will need that big unhealthy hit of sugar to feel satiated. So that you don’t give in too frequently, consider setting a time once a week when you can treat yourself to a small portion of a high sugar food. My favorite indulgence is 2-3 pieces of dark chocolate sea salt caramel.
I also find that fancy protein drinks like this Protein Chocolate Hazelnut Coffee Frappe Starbucks Remake keep my sweet tooth at bay.
Bariatric Food Source protein bars, like this S’mores protein bar, are another treat to satisfy a sweet tooth. Their line of bariatric protein bars are my favorite bar none!
As mentioned earlier, fruit is a sweet dessert. And dried fruit is even sweeter. One of my favorite treats when I crave something sweet is a few medjool dates stuffed with goat cheese and topped with a pecan. Plus, dates have health benefits — they are high in several nutrients, fiber and antioxidants.
Alternately, you may wish to tame your sugar cravings by following the Whole30 program. This is the 30-day program that I followed to bust my sugar addiction — and it worked!
10. Record your progress
You might consider recording your progress as a way to help keep yourself motivated. If your aim is to lose weight, you should also keep a record of your weight loss so that you can see how effective it is. There are apps that can help you to record your progress, or you could use an old-fashioned calendar.
Sugar cravings, the bottom line
Sugar cravings are very common. In fact, research shows most people experience a “sweet tooth” on a regular basis. Being aware of your cravings and having a plan in place makes sugar cravings much easier to avoid. It also makes it a lot easier to eat healthy and faster to lose weight.
Living larger than ever,
My Bariatric Life