It tastes so good!
Our body craves sugary foods because they really do create a reaction in our brain and bodies that help us feel happy and less stressed (at least temporarily) and for the most part- our taste buds think they are yummy.
I’m not an advocate of eating absolutely no sugar. I think any nutrition plan that creates an off-limit food tends to set us up for failure or rebellion and it’s the rare person who can truly live their whole life without sugar. But we all know that too much sugar is not good for us and can lead to weight gain and weight related diseases like type 2 diabetes and heart disease. In order to minimize these effects on our bodies, we can certainly be careful about the type of sugars we consume and the amounts.
According to the American Heart Association (AHA), here are the maximum amount of added sugars you should eat in a day:
To compare that to real life, one 12-oz can of Coke contains 140 calories from sugar, while a regular-sized Snickers bar contains 120 calories from sugar, and even a breakfast made up of a single serving pack of instant oatmeal and 8 oz of trop 50 orange juice has 90 calories from sugar- that’s almost your entire day allowance already gone at breakfast!
So how do we cut down on the amount of sugars we eat?
Here are a few tips to help cut down on your daily dose of the sweet stuff:
Start with the easy stuff- Cut out sweetened drinks like sodas and fruit juice and replace with water or herbal teas instead
Read labels! Sugar hides in everything from canned fruits to ketchup, salad dressings and spice blends. Even that glass of wine you enjoy is full of sugars. You may be surprised where you can find it when you start looking.
Beware the many names of sugar. When you look for those hidden sugars make sure you know all the variations, pretty much anything with an ‘ose’ in it is a form of sugar so look for things like sucrose, maltose, dextrose, fructose, glucose, galactose, lactose, high-fructose corn syrup, and glucose solids.
Get some sleep- Being tired can cause your body to look for a quick pick me up which sugar can offer- plus studies have found that staying up late can create insulin sensitivity, which will keep circulating your glucose higher, increaseing your percieved hunger and cravings for sugar, and potentially set you up for weight gain.
So, turn off the tv or put the book down and get a few extras zzzz’s
Gradually replace the sugary habits- Sometimes stopping eating sugar suddenly or “cold turkey” can be very hard- if that is too drastic for you try Gradually finding cleaner options for your favorite sugary foods or those foods that you are emotionally attached to. This slow and steady form of replacement helps to diminish the cravings slowly so it feels less stringent or dramatic and you avoid having sugar withdrawals
Start your day with protein- Eating a protein for breakfast naturally helps curb your cravings for carbs and sugars later in the day.
Experiment in the kitchen. Leave those pre-packed snacks on the shelf and try some new recipes for foods you love. Making food yourself lets you control the amount and type of sugar they include plus it helps you take control of your sugar intake instead of letting your craving control you.