Over the past few years I’ve hosted several “No Sugar” challenges. I love these challenges as it helps me to refocus and really pay attention to what I’m eating and drinking every day.
However many participants have struggled with cutting out/ reducing sugar. The sugar struggle is real folks!
When I stopped drinking soda a few years ago I wanted to hurt people the first few days I didn’t drink it. It was ugly.
According to the American Heart Association (AHA), the maximum amount of added sugars you should eat in a day are 150 calories per day (37.5 grams or 9 teaspoons) for men and 100 calories per day (25 grams or 6 teaspoons) for women.
The average American consumes between 30-60 teaspoons a day!
Most people eat too much sugar and their waistlines confirm it!
While it might be difficult to reduce the amount of sugar you consume every day, you can do it! The struggles are different, but these five simple tips will help you get over the hump and on the road to a healthier lifestyle.
5 Simple Ways to Eat Less Sugar
Snack on Protein and Fat Several Times a Day
When people snack throughout the day they tend to grab convenience foods which are often carbs and/or sugary snacks. Try switching to snacks higher in fat and protein.
If you aren’t a snacker, start incorporating snacks into your diet two to three times a day to help curb the sugar cravings. Snack on nuts, cheese, hard boiled eggs, beans and cheese, or veggies and hummus. The fat makes you feel fuller longer the protein can keep your blood sugar from going crazy.
Prep snacks in individual serving sizes (think small Ziploc bags) at the beginning of the week, or every evening to make snacking on healthy choices easy during the day.
Never drink your sugar!
Sugary drinks are horrible! Drinks with fake sugar are even worse because they cause sugar cravings and overeating. One soda can eat up all your sugar for the day! Unless you are eating a 100% whole foods diet, you will be consuming some sugar in the packaged foods you eat so don’t waste your sugar on empty calories like soft drinks, flavored waters, sugary coffee, and sweetened teas.
Try replacing sweet drinks water infused with lemon, orange, or cucumber. It will give you a little flavor without the calories.
If you drink your coffee with a lot of sugar try substituting the sugar for honey, a cinnamon stick, vanilla, whole milk, or coconut oil.
Read the Labels.
Many foods we think are healthy choices are actually loaded with sugar. Did you know that most pre-made granola’s are filled with sugar?
Check out the nutritional information for this popular brand of granola.
One bowl of cereal contains 12g of sugar! That’s about 1/2 the recommended amount of sugar for the entire day.
Now compare granola with Lucky Charms.
It’s hard to believe that Lucky Charms has LESS sugar than granola, right? But labels don’t lie (well at least they aren’t supposed to). Now I’m not recommending everyone start munching on marshmallows for breakfast, but it is important to read the labels to make sure something branded as healthy is actually healthy!
Many sauces, condiments, and dressings have a lot of sugar in them. You can always substitute a sugary salad dressing with a little oil and vinegar, or use seasonings to avoid sugar altogether.
Stick to the recommended serving size.
When I was researching this sugar last week I realized that a serving of ice cream is 1/2 a cup. Have you ever seen anyone eat just only a 1/2 cup of ice cream except a 2 year-old? I haven’t!
Most people eat significantly more than the recommended serving size which means they are eating even more sugar than the label suggests because they are consuming two to three servings!
When I started to get fit measuring cups were my best friend! I measured almost everything. This was not to be legalistic, but rather to get out of the super sized mentality. I wanted to know exactly how much a serving was so I could get use to eating a healthy amount of food.
What I found at the end of my measuring cup experiment was that I almost always needed way less than the recommended serving size to feel satisfied, especially when it came to sauces and condiments.
Ask for sauces, condiments, and dressings on the side when dining out.
Don’t let the chef be in charge of your sugar consumption when dining out. Ask for dressings and sauces on the side so you can add a little bit but not go overboard.
Most restaurants slather sandwiches with condiments and salads with dressing. By getting these on the side you can add just enough to get some flavor (if you need it) instead of eating extra sugar that you probably didn’t even want to begin with.
Get it out of the house!
It’s hard to eat it if you don’t have it. If you struggle with wanting something sweet to get through the day, get it out of the house. Throw it away, give it to friends, put it in the freezer, but don’t make it easily accessible.
Often people use sugar/ sweets as a way of coping with stress. It becomes a ritual just like smoking a morning cigarette or drinking a cup of coffee before the kids get up. The ritual is as hard to stop as the addiction.
Keeping it out of the house keeps it out of your mouth and makes you really think about eating it if you have to drive to the store to get it.
While it would be awesome if everyone could avoid sugar altogether, that is probably not realistic for most folks. Reducing your sugar and avoiding processed foods loaded with sugar is definitely a goal you can achieve but it starts with breaking the addiction.
If you want to reduce your sugar consumption join the No Sugar Challenge! 21 days of tips, encouragement, and helpful hits to keep you on track!