12 min read
7 Easy Tips to Cut Sugar Intake
If there’s one thing that you should focus on when improving your nutrition plan, it should be to cut sugar intake.
Sugar is one of the leading causes of obesity and disease in today’s world as more and more of us are filling our diets full of sugar-laden foods. Are sugar cravings that bad? Read on to learn some tips to cut sugar from your diet and reduce those cravings.
Food manufacturers are quick to decrease the fat content of many foods, however in doing so, they typically add more sugar to the product in order to maintain the taste that people will love. Likewise, as we are seeing the popularity of gluten-free foods coming to shelves at the supermarket as so many try and avoid gluten in their diets, we are also seeing a rise in processed foods created to be gluten free. Sadly, these gluten free products are often loaded with sugar and are not much better than the original versions. So why is sugar so bad? Sugar impacts you in many negative ways. Let’s have a quick look at the harmful effects of sugar so you can see very clearly why getting it out of your diet is a must. Then, we will look at how you can take steps to remove it completely.
The problems with sugar
The first big issue related to sugar is the fact that it’ll send your good glucose levels soaring and then shortly after that, cause you to crash. So while you may temporarily feel good upon eating that sugar-rich food, about an hour later, you’ll be feeling more miserable than ever. This energy low that you experience often does one thing: prompts you to eat more sugar. Clearly this must be avoided.
The next big problem with all this sugar is what it’s doing to your internal system. Each time you eat a dose of sugar, your pancreas is going to release some insulin, which is a hormone that will go into your body and help you better manage your rising blood sugar levels. Insulin will cause the sugar to be taken out of the blood stream and moved into storage for later use. This then leads to body fat gain. That’s not all though. As this happens regularly over time, your cells will stop being so sensitive to insulin, and soon insulin resistance can occur. This means that the pancreas now needs to release even more insulin to get the job done, and this whole series of events can lead to diabetes over time.
Another big issue with sugar? Focus and concentration. When you are flooding your body with sugar on a regular basis, you’ll find that your mental focus and concentration begins to decline. As soon as that sugar is removed from your blood, you’ll feel weak, anxious, and may not be able to concentrate on much other than getting more food. For those who have demanding careers, this can prove to be quite the problem. And, let’s not forget the fact that sugar is empty calories. You can only eat so many calories per day and if many of those calories are coming from sugar, this means you could run the risk of experiencing nutritional deficiencies. This is the opportunity cost trade-off. If you are eating sugar, you aren’t eating something else that you should be.
Sugar addiction: a real thing
As you can see, there are many problems associated with sugar consumption. What many people don’t fully realize is that sugar can actually be an addiction. It’s not just the fact that you love the taste of sugar-rich foods and have to have them in your day, it’s that there is a biochemical reaction that is occurring each time you put sugar into your body.
Whenever you eat sugar, your brain is going to release a certain neurotransmitter called serotonin. This is released whenever you consume carbohydrates (sugar being the most basic carbohydrate) and has a very strong calming effect on your body. Ever notice that when you are stressed and then proceed to dig into that pint of Ben & Jerry’s, your stress level seems to immediately decline? That is because serotonin is temporarily making you feel better. Serotonin also helps to boost your mood and can also improve your energy levels.
All in all, it’s very powerful stuff. It’s also the same neurotransmitter that is released when recreational drugs are used. And, we all know how strong drug addictions can be, and in a way, sugar addition is somewhat similar. When you don’t have sugar, you aren’t getting this flood of serotonin and as such, you body goes through withdrawal. It’s easy to become addicted to the feeling you get from it after eating carbohydrates, so now every time you are stressed, anxious, or feeling down, you want those carbs to get that feeling back. It’s a very strong positive feedback loop and one that can be hard to break.
Tips for going sugar free
So how can you stop your addiction to sugar and combat those sugar cravings? Fortunately, there are a number of things you can do.
Here are 7 tips to combat sugar cravings:
1. Stay hydrated
Staying hydrated is a must. Many people often mistake thirst for hunger and this can lead them to crave sugar. Keep a water bottle with you at all times and drink from it whenever you think of it. Getting your 8-10 glasses of water per day can go a long way towards helping you bust through those sugar cravings.
2. Eat regularly
It’s also essential that you are eating regularly as well. If you aren’t eating regularly, it’s common to experience a blood glucose crash. When you do experience a crash, it is highly likely that with that crash, you’ll also experience strong cravings for sugar. By eating regularly, you keep your blood glucose levels stable and as such, side-step the problem. Aim to eat a meal or snack every three hours or so. Going longer than this is what will set you up for problems, so plan ahead and always be prepared with healthy foods and snacks, such as nuts or a protein shake.
3. Check your carb intake
As you plan out these meals and snacks, make sure that you check your carbohydrate intake as well. Are you eating enough carbohydrates? If not, this could be part of your problem. Remember that serotonin will be released in response to eating both carbohydrates as well as sugar. It isn’t just the sweet stuff that will have this impact. While you won’t get as dramatic a spike from eating complex and wholesome carbohydrates as you would from sugar, if you are sure to include enough healthy carbohydrates in your daily diet, it can go a long way towards making you feel better. This can help with those withdrawal cravings and help you quit sugar for good. Choose complex carbohydrates such as oatmeal, brown rice, quinoa, barley, sweet potatoes, beans, and lentils.
4. Snack on fruit
It can also be very helpful to snack on fruit from time to time as well. Fruit is Mother Nature’s candy and is very sweet as well, so it can work wonderfully to combat your sweet tooth cravings. Unlike processed sugary foods, fruit is loaded with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, making it a great choice for any meal or snack in your day. Two to three pieces of fruit, eaten with either a fat or protein source, can be a part of a healthy diet plan. Avoid eating more fruit than this or problems may occur with blood glucose control.
5. Experiment with new recipes
To combat sugar cravings, make sure that you aren’t bored with your everyday diet plan. Start experimenting with new recipes on a regular basis. Try out new foods that aren’t laden with sugar and you might just find that you don’t even miss the sugar at all. Make an effort to prepare one new recipe each week. Check out Nuzest’s recipe section for some yummy protein-rich recipes.
6. Go sugar-free for 21 days
If you really want to combat sugar cravings for good, try going 21 days without eating sugar. 21 days is about the length of time it takes for your body to learn a new habit (being sugar free) and for the impulse to do that habit to lessen. If you can go 21 days without having any added sugars, you’ll find that your cravings naturally lessen. Those 21 days may be quite challenging, but if you can push through, it’ll be worth it.
7. Get active
Finally, get active. Physical activity helps to stabilize blood glucose levels as well and can help you combat cravings. Plus, when you are physically active, you are more prone to making healthier food choices that support the healthy lifestyle changes you are making. So use these tips and information to help combat your own sugar cravings and make the switch over to a sugar-free diet plan. Going sugar-free isn’t easy but with enough determination, it’s definitely possible.