Overconsumption of sugar is a major problem today. It causes a whole list of problems, from relatively minor (acne and impotence) to life threatening (heart disease and type 2 diabetes). But despite knowing that it’s bad for us, many people just keep eating – and drinking – sugar in large quantities.
There’s a reason many people are reluctant to cut down on sugar – it’s legitimately hard to do. Studies have shown that food addiction, especially sugar addiction, can be just as troublesome and cause as many problems as drug or alcohol addiction(1). When it comes to sugar, many of us are caught in a vicious addictive cycle, often without even realizing it.
Regardless of how challenging it may be, it’s a good idea to cut down on sugar. Here are some simple steps to eliminating excess sugar from your diet:
1. Deciding To Detox
Anyone – even people who aren’t obese – can struggle with the health effects of eating too much sugar. When deciding whether or not you need to cut down, as yourself the following questions:
- Do you regularly crave sugar and carbohydrates?
- Do you have high triglycerides and low levels of “good” cholesterol?
- Do you struggle with managing your weight?
- Do you eat when you’re not hungry, or associating eating with feelings of guilt and avoidance?
- Do you experience regular brain fog, joint or muscle pain, bloating and gas?
If you’ve answered yes to most of these questions, chances are you’re in desperate need of a sugar detox.
2. Going Cold Turkey
You can’t go cold turkey off all food completely – you’d starve to death, obviously – but you can go cold turkey off the foods that are making your food addiction symptoms worse, namely sugar and simple carbohydrates. While you’re at it, avoid artificial sweeteners as well – these serve to make sugar and carb cravings even worse(2).
3. Yes, That Includes Sugary Drinks
Liquid sugar calories are even worse for you than solid ones – they’ve been conclusively linked to diabetes(3) and heart disease(4), and are easier to consume a lot of, which many people do. Avoid sweetened beverages – yes, that includes fruit juice too, as well as sweetened teas and coffee drinks, sports drinks, and of course, sodas.
4. Boost Your “Good” Fat Intake
These fats, found in extra virgin olive oil, avocados, and fatty fish, make you feel fill and help balance your blood sugar levels. They’ll give you the fuel your body needs to function, so you don’t need to get energy from sugars.
5. Prepare Well
A lot of well-meaning people fall into the trap of eating poorly when they find themselves in “emergency” food situations. You know the drill: you’re out running errands, but it’s taking longer than you planned, and the only food for miles is fast food joints. In situations like these, a large order of fries and a Coke can seem awfully tempting. Prepare yourself by travelling with healthy snacks.
6. Manage Your Stress
Stress can seriously affect your hormones, which can in turn increase your cravings for sugary foods and carbohydrates – we all want comfort food when we’re stressed, after all. Try engaging in stress-relieving mindfulness meditation exercises; they’ve been proven to have a real impact on both health and impulse control(5).
7. Get Plenty Of Sleep
Here’s something you may not know: sleep deprivation is directly linked to food cravings(6). Getting plenty of healthy rest is a great way to make sure you have the energy you need, and don’t resort to finding energy in unhealthy, sugary foods.