The High Sugar Season is Upon Us
We all love sugar. YES! Even you love sugar. You know that there are many very good reasons for giving up sugar. Those reasons include losing weight and lowering your risk for diabetes and certain cancers and still you insist on having “just a little.”
On the other hand, going sugar-free can be tough when you realize how many products contain sugar. You may also be troubled by withdrawal symptoms, such as headaches and mood swings, if you try to quit cold turkey. YES, I do indeed understand and admit to being in the same boat.
Fortunately, you can eat healthier while continuing to indulge your sweet tooth. YAY!!
If you’re like most Americans, there’s probably plenty of room in your diet for cutting back on sugar. In fact, they say the average consumption for Americans is almost 82 grams a day compared to the 25 grams that are recommended by health experts. That’s quite an overage!
If you’re like me and looking for alternatives to a sugar-free diet, take a look at these ideas. You’ll find healthy options that can work for you and your family.
How to Satisfy Your Sweet Tooth with Less Sugar
Believe it or not, a diet low in sugar can still be delicious. This is because you’ll be more likely to make lasting changes if you like what you’re eating.
Here are some tips to cut down on sugar without going sugar-free:
- Taper down. Reducing your intake gradually will give your body time to gently adjust. Try putting one teaspoon less of sugar into your coffee, tea smoothie, or cereal each week. You’ll probably find that you’re just as satisfied with your new habit. You might even consider reducing the amount of sugar you put into your favorite cookies. We’ve discovered in our home that our favorite cookies still taste amazing even with 1/3 less sugar than recommended amount.
- Add fruit. Regardless of what you may have heard from some celebrities and diet books, most dieticians believe that fruit is an excellent source of fiber and nutrients. Fruit is an amazing way to satisfy your sweet tooth and benefit from real nutrients.
- Spice it up. Many natural flavors can replace refined sugar. Experiment with vanilla, cinnamon, and ginger. Did you know that lemon juice is a great sugar substitute in herbal tea? Try it!
- Enjoy chocolate. Dark chocolate is a superfood. It’s rich in antioxidants and good for your heart and brain. Replace your afternoon cookie with a square or two of dark chocolate.
- Substitute fats and protein. Sugary treats will be easier to avoid if you fill up on more nutritious foods. If you’ve been skipping breakfast, you’ve been setting yourself up for an increased sugar craving. Start your day with a breakfast that contains healthy fats and lean proteins. You’ll quickly notice your afternoon or late night sugar craving diminish or completely disappear.
Other Routes for Healthy Eating
Quitting sugar is a worthwhile goal, but there are many more paths to a balanced diet. Choose from these ideas or ask your doctor to suggest priorities based on your individual needs.
Try these techniques:
- Eat more fiber. Some studies have found that increasing fiber is the single most positive change you can make to your diet. Get most of your calories from beans, whole grains, brown rice, and crunchy vegetables.
- Focus on whole foods. Cutting back on processed foods is a quick way to transform your eating habits. You’ll eliminate most of your empty calories along with excess sugar and salt.
- Choose plants. A plant-based diet is another plan with far-reaching benefits. Become a vegetarian or start with one or two meatless days a week. If the thought of eating more vegetarian-style meals is unappealing to you, consider increasing the number of vegetable servings you enjoy with each meal.
- Drink responsibly. Liquid calories are easy to overlook. Eat whole fruit instead of drinking juice to consume more fiber and fewer calories. Sip tea or garnish a plain glass of water with basil or berries when you want some flavor in your glass. Limit alcohol too. Increase your water intake until you are drinking at least half your body weight in ounces of water every single day.
- Dine at home. Preparing your own meals and snacks gives you greater control over the ingredients. Meals away from home tend to have more calories, fat, sodium, and sugar, whether you’re visiting a fast food chain or a five-star hotel.
- Change your thinking. Your relationship with food counts too. Think of it as something to fuel your body and share with friends instead of treating it like an enemy. Food is required for good health. Fat does not make you fat. Enjoy a variety of foods in order to experience a truly balanced diet.
Breaking up with sugar is hard to do. If you want to cut back without cutting it out completely, you can still lose weight and enjoy a more nutritious diet. It really is better to enjoy a candy bar or piece of fruit than to go hungry.