Who doesn't love the taste of that delicious sweet stuff? I will admit I was a huge sugar addict. I thought it was ok to eat 10 Oreos after dinner because I ran 6 miles that day! Exercise helps us burn off some of those excess calories, but it does not undo the damaging effects sugar has on the body. I NEVER thought I would be able to give up sugar, but once I started to see results from giving up even a little to start (weight loss, clearer skin, more energy, improved mood, less anxiety, and clearer thinking), I was motivated to continue. I had no idea what a hold this one substance had on me!
If you are wondering where to even begin to reduce your sugar intake, check out these tips to see if any resonate with you.
Tips to help with sugar cravings:
- Suppress sugar cravings before they start. Drink a glass of luke-warm water with lemon 30 minutes before your breakfast each morning. This will prepare the stomach for digestion and help control that sweet urge.
- Maintain blood sugar levels. Have a regular eating schedule and eat 3 real, well-balanced meals. What I have found is that many people skip meals throughout the day. If you go past the point of hunger, your body is naturally going to want sugar/high carbohydrate foods. Keep snacks with you for emergencies (e.g., almonds, almond/sunflower butter, fruit, celery and carrot sticks, Epic bars, etc.).
- Replace sugars with filling proteins and healthy fats like lean meats, nuts, and seeds. Yes, fat is good for you! We just want it to be healthy fats.
- Swap sugary cereal or flavored oatmeal, which both have added sugar, for plain oats, quinoa flakes or buckwheat and add fresh fruit, nuts/seeds, cinnamon, and unsweetened almond milk.
- Swap a granola bar or protein bar for real, TRUE food like an apple, pear, banana, or celery with sunflower butter.
- Buy plain, unsweetened yogurt instead of one that has added sugar and fruit. Add fresh fruit and Stevia or raw honey if you need to sweeten.
- Make your own FULL-FAT salad dressing (avoid fat-free and low-fat store bought ones because these are made with unhealthy, inflammatory oils and typically have added sugar): mix virgin olive oil, balsamic vinegar or lemon juice, and herbs.
- Add orange, lemon or lime slices (and some mint if you would like) to water as an alternative to sugary juices or soda.
- Clean out your kitchen! Read the ingredient list to see what items (even "healthy" items) you have in your home that have sugar added to them. Kashi cereal is a great example of a product marketed as "healthy" that has sugar or corn syrup added. Remember, out of sight, out of mind!
- Craving chocolate? Aim for a high % of cocoa. For example, start with 70% cocoa and work your way towards 90%, which has a lot less sugar. You will be surprised at how your taste buds change over time.
- If the sugar urge comes on, have a spoonful or two of almond or sunflower butter or make a homemade smoothie (e.g., unsweetened cocoa powder, unsweetened almond milk, 1/4 avocado, Stevia/raw honey/dates, ice, and vanilla extract).
- Craving ice cream? Try some almond butter-banana “ice cream:” blend 1/2 frozen banana with 1-2 Tbsp. almond butter, and a dash of unsweetened almond milk. If you need to sweeten more, add a date or a little Stevia.
- Craving a soda? Try some flavored Sweet Leaf drops in carbonated water for a healthier alternative. For a list of flavors, click here.
- Going to a party? Make and bring a healthier dessert with you. Google search “Paleo ___” (e.g., Paleo chocolate chip cookies) to get recipes that use more wholesome sweeteners and healthier flours.
- Set small goals for yourself. For week one, work on not having sugar up until 10am. For week two, extend this to 12pm and so on. You will feel more accomplished by hitting these small goals.
Trust me, you can break free from your sugar addiction, and you will be so thankful you did!!