Reduce sugar that is added on, not natural sugars, in whole foods. The average American consumes over 65 pounds of added sugar every year. Are you struggling with sugar? Can’t manage the cravings? It is literally in everything and sugar cravings can be really difficult to manage. Here are ten top tips to reduce sugar in your diet without going crazy from a holistic nutritionist with an applied science background.
Reduce sugar in things like breakfast cereals, processed foods, snacks, candies; not reducing sugar in things like tomatoes, carrots, apples and oranges.
Sugar in natural foods is not a problem because they have fibre and they have a lot of vitamins and minerals intact. The problem really is the added sugars.
How much added sugar is allowed you per day? What is the limit? The World Health Organisation actually has a limit. Their limit is 50g per day. The recommendation is to stay below that and that’s not a lot. To put 50g in perspective, a can of soda contains roughly 40g of sugar. Already, there’s no room for more sugar that day. If you are looking for maximum health benefits, the recommendation is 25g per day!
Now that we have details and a background, let’s deep dive into reducing our sugar intake.
1. Read labels carefully for all your processed foods
You may not be a fan of processed foods and you try to stick to whole foods, but sometimes you have to eat the processed food. How can you tell if you are having too much sugar or not. On the ingredient list, all the ingredients that were used to make the food are listed. The first ingredient is typically the one that is used the most and the last ingredient is the one that is used in the least quantity.
Try to look for words that signify sugar – sugar, brown sugar, honey, corn syrup, brown sugar syrup, malt syrup – as you can see and this is a problem, sugar has 60 different names! Nobody knows all of them and neither can you be expected to know them. The most common words you want to look for are sugar and syrup – brown rice syrup, malt syrup, high fructose corn syrup.
Also look for words that end with – ose. Glucose, fructose, dextrose. These are all sugars, so try to avoid foods that have a lot of sugars in them.
2. Eat more whole foods
Whole foods are foods that are in their natural form. Fruits, vegetables legumes, whole grains, nuts, seeds. When you eat whole foods, there are no added sugars; it is not processed and no sugar is added. If you have a diet which is primarily whole foods, you automatically reduce the amount of sugar in your diet.
3. Try not to drink your calories.
One of the easiest ways to have too much sugar is to drink it. It doesn’t feel like we’re getting that much of an overdose. It is just very easy to over-do sugar in drinks. Whenever you are drinking something, be mindful of the amount of sugars contained in it. Try to ask for unsweetened beverages whenever you go to a cafe. An ice tea or an ice coffee can also be had unsweetened. If you are going for bottled beverages, refer to point 1, which is read the label carefully. Try not to drink all your calories in the form of sugar.
4. Avoid relying on healthy sweeteners.
Don’t get carried away with the natural sweeteners. You’ll be glad to know this. When you transition from a high sugar diet to a low sugar diet and go from using white sugar to using things like coconut sugar or maple syrup, honey, brown rice syrup; you will basically replace your white sugar addiction with a natural sugar addiction. You will remain addicted to sugar and you will still over-do it.
We’re not saying you can never have natural sugar. Bear in mind that natural sugars are very concentrated and it isn’t as good for your health as having fresh fruit.
5. Eat more protein.
When you don’t eat enough protein with every single meal, your blood sugar tends to be more erratic. If you have a sugary breakfast cereal with a little bit of milk at 0730am, by the time 1030am rolls around, you’re going to be hungry. That’s because your breakfast didn’t have enough protein and it had too much sugar. So your blood sugar went up and then you had that dip, during which you have a sugar craving.
If you want to prevent that sugar craving, it is the best idea to get enough protein with every single meal. To prevent sugar cravings, get atleast 15-20g of protein per meal, minimally. This way you are getting your proteins through the day and you are stabilising your blood sugar levels; you are not going to have those sugar cravings.
6. Eat more healthy fats
This is along the same lines as eat more proteins. When you eat enough fat with all your meals, you are less likely to have those sugar cravings because your blood sugar levels are stable and you’re fuller for longer. We recommend that you eat fats from whole foods sources and not from things like oils. When you have fats from whole food sources, you are actually getting all of the nutrition. If you were to compare avocado oil to avocados; the oil is a pure fat — there is nothing in there but fat. Avocados have vitamins, such as vitamin B, vitamin K, vitamin E and fibre. When you are getting your fat from eating the avocado, you’re getting a lot more bang! for your buck. Stick to whole food sources whenever possible at every meal. Avocados, nuts, seeds, coconuts and limit your oils.
7. Remove temptations
If you have sugary snacks lying in your cupboard, you are more likely to eat them. It’s because they’re right there. You are not going to have sugary snacks if they are not within arm’s reach – out of sight, out of mind. It is very unlikely that you are going to get dressed and drive to the grocery store when the sugar craving strikes.
8. Keep low-sugar “whole food” treats at home
Just because you can’t have a sugary snack, doesn’t mean that you can’t enjoy yourself with low-sugar snacks. You can keep freshly cut fruit in the fridge and if you want something a little extra, best are frozen grapes. Grapes are naturally very sweet and once you freeze them, they take on a very different texture and they become more enjoyable. Frozen banana popsicles are a great snack too. Take a ripe banana, peel it (pop it on a popsicle stick if you have one) and put in the freezer for 24 hours or until it completely hardens. Drizzle some chocolate, sprinkle coconut shavings and they are delicious. Another healthy snack is apple nachos.
9. Don’t use sugar as a way to relieve stress.
Sugar does lower stress, however it is a damaging short-term solution. The best way to manage your stress, is through avenues other than food and sugar. Meditation, yoga, walking, bubble-baths; anything that distracts the mind. Self-care helps greatly to manage and reduce stress.
10. Never say never!
The problem with having a black and white approach to sugar is that it doesn’t work long-term. Life is about finding balance. There is no such thing as having sugar in moderation, it is almost impossible to stay in the moderate zone.
Having sugar occasionally, when the occasion ‘warrants’ it, is not a problem. Your grandma’s 90th birthday and she baked the cake herself, that is ‘warranted’. Don’t have the whole cake ofcourse, share it with somebody. Special occasion allowances are okay. Nutrition is about finding the balance that works for you and stay below The World Health Organisation limit of 50g per day.
E318 – 10 Tips to Reduce Sugar Intake and Diabetic Complications – www.diabetic.today