As you may well know, consuming too much sugar can have many adverse effects on your health and is probably one of the worst things you can do to your body. The National Institute of Health (NIH) estimates that sugars alone make up 15 percent of the average American adult’s diet. That’s about 22 teaspoons of added sugar a day! What’s more, this reported sugar intake excludes the natural sugars found in products such as fruit and milk.
Why Cut Out Sugar?An article by Jon Johnson from Medical News Today offers the following list of health conditions that have been linked to excessive sugar intake:
- Obesity and metabolic syndrome
- Heart disease
- Type 2 diabetes
- High blood pressure and cholesterol
- Chronic inflammation
- Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease
- Dental plaque and cavities
So, What Exactly Is Sugar?When answering this question, you need to think beyond the granulated, highly refined, multi-purpose substance typically found in the bakery aisle at the grocery store. While it exists in many forms, the sugar in our kitchen comes primarily from sugarcane or sugar beets. This certainly is not the sugar found in natural and health-filled products.
Cutting Out the SugarLet’s say that you are going to make a serious effort to cut out added sugar or, at least, dramatically reduce the amount you consume. You might also strive to become more conscious of products with artificially added sugars which can be found almost everywhere. For starters, you should consider the ways shared in Healthline to reduce your intake of added sugars:
- Exchange sodas, juices, energy drinks, and sweetened teas for water or unsweetened seltzer.
- Drink your coffee black or use a zero-calorie, natural sweetener.
- Use fresh or frozen berries to sweeten plain yogurt instead of buying flavored, sugar-loaded yogurt.
- Consume whole fruits instead of fruit smoothies sweetened with sugar.
- Instead of candy, substitute a homemade trail mix of fruit, nuts, and a dark chocolate chips.
- Substitute olive oil and vinegar in place of sweet salad dressings like honey mustard.
- Choose sugar-free marinades, nut butters, ketchup, and marinara sauce.
- Check food labels to find cereals, granolas, and granola bars with under four grams of sugar per serving, which is about one teaspoon.
- In the morning, enjoy a bowl of rolled oats topped with nut butter and fresh berries or an omelet made with fresh greens.
- Instead of jelly or sugary preserve, slice fresh bananas onto your peanut or almond butter sandwich.
- Use natural nut butters in place of sweet spreads like Nutella.
- Avoid alcoholic beverages sweetened with soda, juice, honey, sugar, or agave.
- Shop the perimeter of the grocery store, seeking out fresh, whole ingredients.
- Take it slow: Make it a slow process by eliminating the most obvious sources of sugar while you retrain your palate.
- Read labels: Turn your attention to other products that contain sugar by reading labels to help identify types of sugars to avoid. These include sucrose, glucose, dextrose, fructose, and lactose.
- Avoid simple carbohydrates such as white flour, white pasta, and white rice.
- Avoid artificial sugars. Much sweeter than sugar, these can trick your body into thinking it is actually eating sugar and can exacerbate your sugar cravings.
- Do not drink sugar that is hidden in sugar-sweetened drinks. Soda, specialty coffee, sweetened teas, and fruit juices are examples of these.
- Focus on whole foods. A plant-based diet like that suggested by the Hallelujah Diet® would be a wise choice.
- Plan your meals. Having a plan means you would be less likely to reach for that unhealthful snack when hungry.
- Spice it up. Sweet-tasting herbs and spices can easily be added to food and drink to replace sugar. These include cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, and vanilla.
Dealing with Sugar Cravings: Consider a Simple DetoxA sugar detox can cause unpleasant physical and mental symptoms. You should, however, keep in mind that these can also be associated with a wide range of other illnesses:
- Fatigue and Weakness
- Extreme Cravings
- Behavior Changes
- Muscle Aches and Pains
- Poor Sleep Quality
- Weight Loss
- Flu-Like Symptoms