What’s inside this article: Sugar is toxic. Learn how to break up with sugar, eliminate it from your diet. Plus learn how reducing your sugar intake benefits your health.
If you have a sweet tooth like me, cutting back on sugar isn’t an easy goal to accomplish. But, too much sugar has many adverse health effects, so if you’re eating it too often, it’s a good idea to cut back. So, how to cut back on sugar?
It’s easier said than done – but these tips will help.
Why Should You Cut Back on Sugar?
1. Sugar is Addictive
If you’ve tried to cut back or detox from sugar in the past without success, that’s probably because sugar is addictive.
When you consume sugar, the same pleasure centers in the brain are activated as when people consume cocaine.
When you stop eating sugar, you will experience withdrawal symptoms:
- Intense cravings
- Joint aches
- Trouble focusing
- Mood swings
2. Sugar is Bad for You
There are many adverse health effects associated with consuming too much sugar in our diets.
- Weight gain
- Increased risk of heart disease
- Increased risk of type 2 diabetes
- Accelerates aging
- Increased risk of mental health issues like depression
- Increased risk for certain types of cancer
- Negatively impacts dental health
- High sugar diets may be linked to an increased risk for dementia
- Consistent high blood sugar levels damage the blood vessels in the kidneys
3. Sugar Actually Drains Your Energy
It’s true when you consume something high in sugar, it initially causes a spike in blood sugar levels which leads to increased energy. That’s where the term “sugar high” comes from.
But, consuming food with lots of sugar but lacking in protein, fiber or fat lead to a brief energy boost that’s quickly followed by a sharp drop in blood sugar, often referred to as a crash
In other words, that energy will leave just as quick as it came and you’ll be drained.
This can lead to significant fluctuations in your energy levels throughout the day.
Once you cut back on sugar and are past the initial withdrawal symptoms, you will actually find you have more energy throughout the day and won’t experience those slumps anymore.
How to Cut Back on Sugar Successfully
There are really two options when it comes to how to cut back on sugar. You can cut back on sugar gradually, or, you can go “cold turkey.”
Cutting out sugar cold turkey means you cut all refined and processed sugar out of your diet at once, deal with the side effects, and move on.
Some people do great with this method.
But that doesn’t work for everyone. For some, the side effects are just too severe. If you’ve tried this before without success, it may be a better idea to try a gradual approach instead.
How you cut back on sugar ultimately isn’t going to matter. What matters is how your diet changes long term.
If you’ve decided to take a gradual approach to cut back on sugar, these tips will help you.
Make these changes one at a time and go at your own pace. You may be able to move onto the next change after a couple of days, or you may want to wait a week. That’s okay, just do what works for you.
Start a Food Diary
Before you begin detoxing sugar from your diet, keep a food diary for a week. This will help you identify the highest sources of sugar in your diet.
Check food labels and record how much sugar is in each thing you eat so you can get an idea of how much sugar you’re consuming each day.
This is really helpful as you begin planning how to reduce your sugar intake.
Cut Back on Sugar in Your Favorite Beverages
Drinks are often one of the biggest culprits of sugar consumption. Begin cutting back on sugar by cutting out all the sugary beverages in your diet. This includes:
- Fruit juices
- Chocolate milk
- Sugar added to coffee or tea
Ideally, you should replace these drinks with water. I know that can be difficult. If you’re struggling, especially in the begin, you can try added flavored drops to your water or drinking diet soda.
But, keep in mind that artificial sweeteners aren’t healthy either.
I cut sugar out of my coffee about 18 months ago now. At first, the taste seemed awful, but I just continued to drink it anyways. Soon enough, my taste buds adapted, and I began to prefer my coffee without sugar.
If I accidentally get sugar in my coffee now, it actually makes me gag.
Your preferences will adapt over time as you make these dietary changes.
Change Your Breakfast
Instead of grabbing a bowl of sugary cereal, a breakfast bar or a donut, go for something without sugar.
Scrambled eggs, oatmeal sweetened with stevia, or unsweetened yogurt are great choices. Natural sugar, like what’s found in fruit, paired with fat and protein, are a good option that helps maintain your blood sugars and energy.
For example, an apple with almonds or scrambled eggs and blueberries.
Replace Your Snacks
Replace all your favorite sweet snacks with healthier options. And that means getting them all out of your house too.
If they’re there, you’ll end up caving and eating them when you are dealing with a craving. It’s harder to slip up when you don’t have any sweets in your house.
Stock up on snacks like vegetables and hummus, almonds, berries, multigrain crackers with peanut butter, rice cakes, pepperoni, etc.
Be Aware of Hidden Sugars
Familiarize yourself with the names of “hidden” sugars on your food labels.
Words like glucose, fructose, and high fructose corn syrup – pretty much anything that ends with “-ose” means there is added sugars.
Cooking what you can from scratch also gives you more control over what goes into your food. Pack your lunch for work instead of getting take out so you know exactly what you’re putting into your body.
Track Your Progress
Remember that food journal you started? Keep that up, either by using an app to track nutrition, or writing it down in a physical journal, throughout your journey to cut back on sugar.
At the end of every week, add up the total grams of sugar you consumed so you can see your progress.
You’ll feel proud to see the number drop week after week. Plus you will also start feeling better, having more energy, and dealing with fewer sugar cravings week after week.