I want to preface this article by saying, sugar is not the problem. It’s your problem with it that’s the problem. But I will get to this later.
And I mean come on, let’s be honest, I can’t be the only one who has a sweet tooth.
For years, I’ve struggled with consuming too much sugar, but after experimenting with different methods I was able to beat this bad habit.
Consuming less of it has improved my life in so many ways.
All of these tips and strategies should work for the most of you since these are proven to work by science.
Some Well Known Science-backed Facts about Sugar
Before I even get into telling you how I was able to kick my sugar addiction, you need to understand why it is extremely important for you to do so as well.
Sugar is considered calorically dense
It’s very easy to consume a lot of calories by either drinking or eating sugar. It’s everywhere. This puts you more at risk to gain weight.
When consuming it, you’re either replacing nutritious foods for sugar or adding extra calories to your diet.
Did you know a 12oz can of coke has 39 grams of sugar? Yeah, that’s a lot of sugar when you really think about it.
That’s 39 grams of empty calories you could replace with a cup of water or something with less to no sugar.
Excessive amounts of sugar puts you at higher risk for heart disease
Eating too much sugar can affect the heart in several ways.
It can overload the liver if you’re consuming too much of it.
Sugar is a carbohydrate. Your liver metabolizes sugar the same way it does with alcohol and converts it to fat. Over time, this can cause weight gain from the accumulation of fat. By doing so, this raises your risk of heart disease.
Consuming too much of it also increases your risk of high blood pressure.
A high carbohydrate intake (sugar is a carbohydrate) can increase triglyceride levels in the blood.
Triglycerides are a type of fat found in your blood. High levels of triglycerides can cause inflammation in the pancreas and your artery walls to thicken, or also known as arteriosclerosis. This increases your risk of heart disease, having a stroke, and a heart attack.
Sugar is considered an empty calorie
Empty calories mean they contain little to no essential vitamins and minerals. Basically, this means sugar provides no nutritional value to your body.
Consuming too many empty calories can cause weight gain.
For example, let’s go back to the can of coke. Remember how it contains 39 grams of sugar? So when you drink a can of coke, do you feel full at all? Or even if you do, how long does it last?
Probably not long at all.
The recommended amount of sugar for men is 38 grams and 25 grams for women.
You just consumed your daily recommended intake with no nutritional value. Only thing you’ll gain from drinking a can of coke is unnecessary calories and fat.
Instead of drinking this can of coke, you can eat about 4-5 cups of strawberries for the same amount of sugar. Keep in mind; these are natural sugars vs added sugars.
By consuming too many empty calories, you’re putting yourself at a higher risk to gain weight.
Just like I mentioned with the example above; these empty calories aren’t going to fill you up and you’ll more than likely be hungry again shortly afterwards. This can cause you to eat more calories than you should without even feeling full.
So Do You Just Stop Eating Sugar Completely, Cold Turkey?
First of gals and gads, lemme tell you something, Sugar is not the problem, Your problem with sugar is
You don’t know how many times I hear people tell me they “are just going to cut out sugar” when they start a diet or health kick. They shake their heads sadly when they admit that they have been indulging too much. Maybe they have. Yet, somehow it’s sugar’s fault. They try to cut out sweets, fruits, desserts, chips and bread, etc, but will give in eventually and binge or think that they need to resist forever. Sugar is always bad, and that presumption is the basis from which they start their diet journey.
Here are examples of several cycles I see when this approach is taken:
1. Cut out “sugar” > Give in > binge > try moderation > eat too much overall anyway > stay the same
2.Cut out “sugar” > Give in > binge > decide to have cheat days > binge weekly > repeat > no progress
3. Cut out “sugar” > Give in > binge > horrible guilt > over compensate > binge > disordered eating
4. Cut out “sugar” > Give in > binge > artificial or natural sweeteners only > still overeating > can’t fathom why > spends more money on “natural” sweets
5. Cut out “sugar” > Give in > find confirmation bias for the evils of sugar in a diet jihad from a popular dieting method (ie, primal, paleo, low carb, keto etc) > stack up fallacies, dogma, and anecdotal-evidence-disguised-as-irrevocable-truth faster than paleotard chasing down his dinner > be forever closed to evidence-based rationale > preach against sugar for the rest of their lives. Even if their “belief” starts to do them harm, they can never change their opinion
6. Or they spend their life reconciling themselves to the fact that every sweet to pass their mouth is “wrong,” but there’s no way to have cheesecake AND slimmer legs. What a pain. But it’s a reality.
But a better way to cut sugar out is to slowly change your diet up so that you are still satisfying your cravings but in fact are dropping your sugar intake along the way.
Below are the mods you need to make to your diet (slowly) so that you slowly start to taper down and actually crave less sugar in the process.
Low sugar diet – What your new eating habits will look like
Being on a low sugar diet isn’t as difficult as most people think. There are a few small changes you can implement into your diet which should make a huge difference.
Sugar-filled drinks are everywhere, whether you notice it or not. There’s sugar in soda, fruit drinks, energy drinks, sports drinks, even fruit smoothies.
How often do you have any of these drinks?
For example, a 16oz smoothie can have anywhere from 38-45 grams of sugar. Around the same amount as a can of coke. That’s about 150-180 calories.
How many sugar-filled drinks are you consuming per day? You can easily add 300-500 calories per day by having these drinks.
You can easily cut these calories out by replacing these drinks with water, tea, and coffee.
Changing your habit of drinking multiple cans of coke to only drinking water should make a noticeable change.
Desserts – candy, ice cream, donut
As someone who has a sweet tooth, I can understand how difficult it is to give up these foods.
Am I the only one that wakes up in the middle of the night and craves some ice cream?
Desserts taste amazing, but they provide no nutritional value to you. Basically, these are empty calories. Usually, it’ll satisfy your sweet tooth, but you’ll end up feeling sleepy, hungry, and even craving more of it.
So the next time you’re craving some sweets before going to bed, try having a healthier alternative instead.
Did you know 1 cup of vanilla ice cream is about 300 calories?
Yeah, I was shocked when I first found out.
You can never go wrong with fruit.
1 cup of watermelon is only 46 calories. You can even have 2-3 cups of watermelon and still not reach the 300 calorie mark.
White grain vs Whole grain
White grains are refined, this process strips out both the bran and germ to give a longer shelf life. This process removes a lot of the nutrients our bodies need, including dietary fiber.
Examples of white grains are white rice, white bread, and white flour.
These ingredients can be found in pastries, cereals, and desserts. These processed foods will not keep you full for very long.
Whole grains aren’t refined, so they haven’t had their bran and germ removed. This means all the nutrients are still intact. Whole grains are also a better source of fiber.
Examples of whole grains are oatmeal, brown rice, and whole-wheat flour.
Making the simple switch from white grain to whole grain should help with consuming less sugar and calories.
White grains aren’t going to keep you full for very long compared to whole grains.
For example, for dinner you’re having some grilled chicken with white rice. You’re more likely to be hungry again afterwards and crave a snack.
This is where bad eating habits usually appear. You’ll grab something sweet and bam, more sugar. Instead, eat the grilled chicken with some brown rice.
You’ll feel more vs afterwards because of all the nutrients in whole grains. Now you have a better chance of not wanting more sweets.
Let’s get fit, not fat.
How I Managed to Stop Eating Sugar – My Personal Strategies
Here is what you came for. These are the tips and strategies that helped me to kick my sugar addiction and consume far less sugar.
Drink more water
Seriously, stay hydrated guys.
When you’re dehydrated, it makes it more difficult for your body to metabolize glycogen for energy.
Glycogen is a form of sugar stored in our muscles and liver. Your body uses this as an energy source.
Lack of water causes our bodies to crave sugar for a quick source of energy.
I keep a water bottle with me at all times to ensure I’m staying hydrated throughout the day.
Also, a good tip to help with hunger is to drink a cup of water before your meals. Staying hydrated will keep you from feeling hungry all the time.
Stop eating when you’re bored
Do you ever sneak into the kitchen to grab some sweets when you’re bored at home?
Don’t lie. I know you do. We’ve all done that.
Why do we crave snacks when we’re bored?
It’s been shown that eating certain foods increases your dopamine levels. In simple terms, the brain releases this chemical when we eat junk food or foods high in sugar. This is known as a “feel-good” chemical.
Ever notice how good you feel when eating your favorite dish or dessert?
When you’re bored, your body is looking for that “feel-good” feeling, which is when the cravings kick in.
Due to quarantine, I had a hard time staying away from sugar due to being stuck at home all day. After a month of eating snacks throughout the day, I got tired of it and got rid of all my snacks.
The biggest thing that helped me was staying busy. Stuck at home? Get off your fat-ass and get moving.
Kidding, but not really…
There are so many things you can do with your free time. Watch some TV. Read a book. Work on your hobbies. Ever wanted to pursue a passion of yours, but never got around to it? Well, do it now. Put away the sweets and get to work.
Eat more fruit
Eating more fruit is what has helped me the most to combat my excessive sugar intake.
When we crave sugar, we tend to go for all the bad foods. For example, cookies, donuts, cake, candy, etc. Don’t put all this junk in your system when you can replace all of these foods with fruit.
Remember the strawberries I mentioned earlier having natural sugars? They’re naturally sweet without the added sugar and crap they put in processed snacks.
You get the best of both worlds. Satisfy your cravings and get the nutritional benefits fruits provide.
What I love about fruit is that it’s a lot lower in calories compared to a bowl of ice cream. You get more volume (more food) in your diet without the unnecessary calories. This will help fill you up more, which will help you from craving more sugar in a couple of hours.
Eat more fruit and stay away from processed sweets.
Don’t stress yourself out
How many of you eat when you’re stressed out?
When you’re feeling stressed, the body releases a chemical called Cortisol. Simply put, high cortisol levels can increase your appetite. Your body will crave more fatty and sugary foods.
How did I deal with my stress?
I took a step back and accepted that I can’t control everything going on in the world. Why am putting myself through so much stress for something I have no control over? Stressing out over things you can’t control is only hurting yourself.
I had to take a step back and accept some things can’t be changed. I changed the things I could control and it’s been great for not only my physical health, but my mental health as well.
It’s okay. Relax. Breathe…
Go for a walk if you’re feeling overwhelmed. Honestly, even just a 20 minute walk can change your entire mood. Get your body moving.
How my life has improved after I stopped eating sugar
The first thing I noticed when I cut back on my sugar intake was my energy levels.
Do you ever get sleepy after eating a lot of sugar?
Yeah, me too. You’re not alone. I don’t miss that feeling.
I can run all my errands, do my workout for the day, have time with my family, and still feel good by the end of the night. Due to the higher levels of energy I’ve been able to be more productive and get stuff done.
Not only did I have more energy during the day, I was sleeping better at night as well. I’ve been in a better mood since cutting back.
Overall, I’ve just felt better and am enjoying my life more because of that.
I was surprised at first. All of these benefits just from cutting back sugar? Why didn’t I do this sooner?
Guys, listen to how your body feels. Our bodies weren’t designed to eat all this processed junk. Sure, it tastes good, but is it worth it for the long term effects it can cause?
Other Tricks and Easy Ways to Stop Eating Sugar
Here are some other things that I was less strict about but that I also noticed helped me significantly to kick un-natural sugar.
Eat more whole foods and stay away from processed foods
Go take a look at your fridge right now. How much processed foods do you have vs whole foods?
Although processed foods are more convenient, the cons outweigh the pros. More sugar. More salt. More calories. Higher chance of you getting fat.
If you’re like me, you like snacking on something while watching TV. I love chips, but obviously we don’t want that. Instead snack on nuts or dehydrated fruit/veggies. More nutrients for fewer calories.
Want some ice cream? Get some plain Greek yogurt and mix it in with some fruit, cinnamon, and a little bit of syrup. Greek yogurt is considered a processed food, but it’s a better alternative than ice cream.
Chewing gum can help reduce your sugar cravings, food cravings in general for that matter. Get sugar-free gum if available at your local store, save some calories where you can.
Get rid of any temptation
How many sugary foods do you have in your kitchen?
Get rid of them. I’m not saying to toss them in the trash, but instead give them away. Friends, family, neighbor, or even donate them to your local food bank.
By getting rid of all your sweets, you have a higher chance of not eating sugar.
You’re probably not going to go to the store just for a candy bar. Right?
If you only have whole foods in your home, you’ll probably just go for a healthy snack.
Eat a little bit of natural sugar
Slow down. I’m not saying to stuff your face with sweets now. The exact opposite actually.
Your sugar cravings will only enhance if you’re too strict with your diet. Instead, treat yourself here and there.
Went all week without any sugar? Celebrate it with a fun-size candy bar or a small cookie.
Eating it in moderation is okay. Having a small treat once or twice a week isn’t going to be bad for you. If anything, having a healthy balance will help you stay on track.
Final thoughts – Kick Your Sugar Habit, Thank Me Later
Stay away from sugar when you can, but treat yourself here and there. Go with the 80/20 rule. Keep 80% of your diet healthy with whole foods and the 20% can be your sweets.
You don’t have to be perfect, but make an effort to cut back. It’ll be hard at first, but your body will thank you for it.
You have one body. Take care of it.