Sugar is sweet – tasting. It is delicious. And, it is ubiquitous. Many say it is addictive and that it acts like a drug in the body altering hormonal response. It is believed that people are hard wired to want it. This may be true, but that doesn’t help relieve the possible harm it may do to our health. For a variety of reasons, sugar should be reduced (or even eliminated) from our diets. This can be difficult because sugar can be found in so many foods, naturally occurring and added through processing.
How Much We Eat
In 2011 the American Heart Association recommended that women not exceed 25 grams, or about 6 teaspoons, and men should not exceed 38 grams, or about 9 teaspoons, of sugar a day. Yet, the average adult American consumes upwards of 22 teaspoons (88 grams) a day and teenagers as much as 38 teaspoons (152 grams)!
Sugar, it seems, is in everything. Sugar is in ketchup, salad dressing, most drinks and even bread. It is found naturally in dairy, fruit, and some vegetables. However, the less you consume, the better. Below you will find my 12 helpful strategies for reducing, if not eliminating, your sugar habit.
12 Helpful Tips to Help You Breaking the Sugar Habit
- Brush your teeth. Brushing your teeth right after eating, or when your mouth tastes stale, is a great way to reduce the desire to eat more, especially sugar. Frequently we desire something sweet when our mouth tastes bitter or sour. Cleaning the mouth will reduce the need to freshen it up with sweet foods.
- Avoid onions and garlic. Onion, garlic and other strong spices may taste great in the food being eaten, but they can linger in our mouths far too long. This often causes the need to neutralize this taste with more foods, especially sweets, to neutralize the lingering flavor.
- Chew sugarless gum. Chewing a minty flavored sugar free gum is a great way to satisfy an urge to eat something sweet. It is also excellent at freshening up the breath when brushing is not an option.
- Drink herbal tea. Drinking herbal, especially mint, tea can be used in place of desert or as an evening treat. Warm mint herbal tea is soothing and has a flavor that usually satisfies a sweet tooth and helps to rehydrate the body.
- Get plenty of sleep. Lack of sleep is a common cause of eating sugar because inadequate sleep triggers the stress response, which causes the body crave sugar.
- Eat balanced. Eating a high ratio of carbohydrates during a meal will cause a crash in energy and increase the desire for sugar or easily digestible carbohydrates. Eat a near equal balance of carbohydrates, protein and fats with every meal to avoid the blood sugar highs and lows and keep energy levels even.
- Avoid sweets. Eating sweets encourages eating more sweets. If somebody is used to eating foods that are sweet they will want all foods to be sweet tasting. Otherwise, eating will not satisfy.
- Exercise. The body craves stimulation. It can be stimulated in many ways: caffeine, sugar, drugs, or physical movement. Satisfy the body’s craving for increased energy and stimulation by exercising for short periods of time, several times a day. Try a quick set of pushups or lunges every couple of hours, or perhaps run up a flight of stairs to keep the body envigorated.
- Drink lots of water. We often misinterpret the body’s request for water and eat or drink something sweet instead of plain water. Drinking a soda may satisfy the need for water, but it also causes the blood glucose level to shoot up, which will then crash after 30 minutes or so. Before drinking or eating something sweet, drink a glass of water and wait ten minutes to see if this settles the craving.
- Avoid starches and alcohol. Starches and alcohol turn into glucose pretty rapidly and the blood sugar level elevates, then falls. This fall creates a craving for more glucose in some form (soda, fruit juice, candy, carbs). The more stable the blood sugar level is, the less the body will crave sweets.
- Limit artificial sweeteners. Artificial sweeteners may not add sugar to the blood stream, but they do exacerbate a “sweet tooth”. The less sweets ingested, whether caloric or not, the less they are desired. The less you ingest, the less you will want.
- Give it time. It may take some time to wean the taste for sugar out of the system. Follow the advice above and your journey will be much easier with every passing day.
How Is Sugar Made?
If you are interested in knowing how sugar is made, watch this video. You can see how “natural” real sugar is.
Abstaining from sugar is possible, if you really want to, and commit to it. You CAN break the sugar habit. Make a plan and stick to it. Put a gold star on your calendar every day you don’t eat sweets and every day you keep your total ingested sugar below the recommendation. Don’t beat yourself up if you’re not perfect, you have a lot going against you. But, by following these tips, you should be able to beat the habit eventually.
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