But there are many reasons why you want to limit your sugar intake – from reducing the amount of breakouts you get to preventing the onset of type 2 diabetes(2), eating less sugar is just the sensible way to go.
While going cold-turkey may seem tempting, you’re less likely to be successful than if you simply taper down your sugar consumption until it’s at a manageable level.
A long-term approach to healthier eating is generally more sustainable than crash diet-style techniques(3).
Here are five steps you can take towards cutting down your sugar intake gradually.
1. Quit Sugary Drinks
You may not think you drink a lot of sugary beverages, but it can add up – the average American man consumes approximately 178 kcal from sugary drinks on any given day, while women consume slightly less, at an average of 103 kcal per day(4).
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Try to cut sugary drinks out of your diet gradually, over the course of two weeks. If plain water doesn’t appeal to you, try drinking unsweetened beverages like tea or fruit-infused water.
2. Quit Eating Junk Foods
Cookies, candy bars and other sweets are tempting, but if you want to cut down on your sugar consumption, they’re gonna have to go.
Start with the foods you have the hardest time avoiding – if you’re prone to chowing down on those chocolatey granola bars, for example, get rid of them – and quit those first.
Substitute fresh fruit when you start craving something sweet – it’s what your body needs anyway.
3. Reduce Simple Carbs
Just cutting out sugary drinks and junk food will significantly reduce your sugar intake, and probably help you lose weight as well.
But you’re not done yet – simple carbohydrates can act like straight sugar in your body. First, make a list of all the refined foods that you typically eat as part of your regular diet – crackers, pasta, white bread, etc – and cut them out one by one over a period of a few weeks.
Substitute spaghetti squash or zucchini noodles for pasta, and whole grains for white bread.
4. Look For Hidden Sugars
You may think you’re a pro at eliminating sugar from your diet by this point, but this step can prove to be the trickiest. Give yourself two weeks to master it – after all, hidden sugars are, well, hidden.
You can sleuth for them by checking the ingredients on the food you buy – and be wary of sugar “alternatives” like aspartame, which can be just as bad for you as sugar.
5. Keep It Up!
Maintaining a healthy diet isn’t about never indulging, but it is about understanding what’s realistic for you.
One person’s occasional treat can be another person’s relapse into unhealthy eating habits.
If you can have the occasional slice of cake without it leaving you yearning for more, power to you – but be wary of falling back into old routines. After all, you wouldn’t want all the progress you’ve made to go to waste.[mks_toggle title=”sources” state=”close “]