When you hear the phrase “no sugar” you automatically think of a world where you’ll never eat anything sweet and tasty ever again. That’s simply not true! The truth is that cutting sugar means cutting *added* sugars,* and there’s a whole world of naturally occurring sweet things out there to savor. It’s true that you’ll have to give up some of your favorite things – but who knows? You may find some new favorites to replace them with. =)
8 Ways to Cut Sugar Out of Your Diet
1.Cut out the obvious offenders.
Lay off the cookies, the candy, the cake, the pie, the ice cream, and the donuts. Don’t forget things like jellos, puddings, and granola bars, too. This one is the hardest. If you’re trying to lose weight or initially trying to get used to a diet without sugar, you will probably want to cut these ALL out, at least for a while. If you’re at a point where you’re trying to maintain your weight, or you’ve already adjusted to an almost-sugar-free diet, you can allow yourself to have some sweets on occasion. The keywords? ON OCCASION. So decide beforehand what merits “on occasion” – a birthday, a special dinner out, once a week small dessert.. you decide and then stick to it! Note: If there’s something that you KNOW you can’t eat in moderation, like fudge for example, then avoid these!
2. Don’t drink your sugar.
The American Heart Association recommends limited added sugar (not naturally occurring sugars such as the sugar in fruit, etc.) to only about 100 calories or so a day. ONE HUNDRED CALORIES. I don’t know if you realize how easy it is to eat 100 calories of sugar. That’s 6 teaspoons. There’s an average of 9-10 teaspoons of sugar in a can of soda. It goes quick! If you’re addicted to sweet drinks this will be hard but you can do it! Drink lots of water. Add lemon slices or sliced fruit if you need. Drink unsweet tea (add a crushed mint leaf if you like.) If you drink all of your allowable sugar, you’re not saving any room for something better later. 😉 And this goes for juice drinks and sports drinks, too!
3.) Sweeten Things Naturally (Avoid artificial sweeteners at all cost!)
I personally despise all artificial sweeteners. All of them. (And I don’t like the taste of them, either, but that’s just me.) I don’t think there’s anything wrong with Stevia but you *have* to check the label to make sure it is *only* Stevia because many of the products on the market have other sugars added in. I haven’t gotten used to the taste of Stevia, though, so I prefer to sweeten things with local honey or fruit. Add some fresh, frozen or dried fruit to your oatmeal, granola, smoothie, tea, yogurt, or just as a snack. For example, check out this recipe for Almond Joy bites, sweetened with dates instead of sugar! They taste great!
4.) Creatively replace big sugar offenders.
Maybe you want to make a healthier version of french toast or pancakes but you don’t want to add syrup. Well, I don’t blame you! How about spreading one tablespoon of real fruit jam on it? (Allfruit is a good one, or homemade, or your favorite organic brand that is made with lots of REAL fruit.) I occasionally use our homemade jam in plain yogurt, on a pancake or somewhere else I don’t want to use a worse sugar option. Another example, perhaps you want to make oatmeal but you don’t like it without sugar – how about a little bit of local honey and a teaspoon of brown sugar (brown sugar has a more distinctive flavor so you may be satisfied with less of it.) A little change can go a long way and be just as tasty.
5.) Learn to love plain greek yogurt.
Plain greek yogurt is your friend. (I like Dannon Oikos because it has a LOT of protein.) It takes some getting used to, so you may have to start with lightly sugar sweetened yogurt, then switch to honey sweetened yogurt, then try yogurt and jam or crushed fruit. Personally, I love the combination of yogurt, honey, lemon extract and fresh raspberries. OH MY YUM. But I now also like it plain with some fresh fruit stirred in and some granola on top. Plain yogurt is a great substitute for pudding, ice cream and milkshakes when you’re on a diet. Try making a smoothie with one cup of yogurt, a banana, 2 tablespoons of peanut butter and a little bit of cocoa powder. If you’re feeling really brave, toss in some baby spinach first – if you blend it well with the banana for weight before adding the rest of the ingredients, you’ll never even know it’s there. 😉
6.) Watch those processed foods.
Sugars can be hidden in food labels under a large variety of names. A lot of packaged, processed foods are guilty of hiding a lot of sugar in their labels under another name – not that they’re necessarily trying to hide it, but you gotta learn to speak their language. Protein bars, honey mustard, cereal, juice pouches.. these are just a few things that can hide additional hidden sugars that you don’t normally think about. So learn to read those labels. There are several other reasons why you should limit pre-packaged and processed foods in your diet anyway. It would be hard to go cold turkey, so do your research and start by cutting out certain things. For example, we rarely buy juice, but when we do, we buy 100% juice with no added sugars in it. It’s more expensive, but that’s one of the reasons we limit how often we bring it home.
7.) Never enter a temptation zone empty handed.
You’re going to a birthday party. You KNOW there will be cake. What do you do? Go prepared. If you’re at a place in your journey where you can eat a small piece, decide ahead of time whether you will or won’t eat cake and how much. Either way, take a healthy snack option like dried fruit and nuts to pull out of your purse while everyone else is eating cake. It will keep your mouth busy eating healthy stuff! I’ve been taking an apple or an orange to church with me to pull out when everyone else grabs a donut before Sunday School. It curbs my donut craving. (I sure do love donuts.)
8.) Give yourself an exception.
For a little over two weeks now I’ve been “sugar free.” Well, almost sugar free. From the beginning I laid out what I would and would not be eating for this sugar free phase. No syrups, sauces, desserts, puddings, jellos, ice creams, candies, etc, etc. On the other hand, I gave myself one concession from the start, I’m allowing myself to add a reduced amount of sugar to my cup of coffee or hot tea. (Usually only once a day, sometimes twice.) And I’m allowing myself the gray area to use a tablespoon of homemade jam here and there instead of some less desirable option. That’s it! But that allows me to have very satisfying low sugar meals like this morning’s breakfast –healthier french toast (two slices of healthier bread, dipped in milk and vanilla and cinnamon but no sugar or egg,) cooked in a skillet, sandwiched with an ounce of cream cheese and peach jam between it, no syrup or sugar on top, with a side of orange sections and hot mint tea. The “stuffed” french toast had no added sugar but was so delicious!
My Healthy Habits Update
I’ve been doing well, continuing with the “no sugar” diet. I had to bend a little when we got sick, I was drinking juice and eating soup and things that were easy to fix because I didn’t feel well, but I still didn’t do too bad. I did eat one small piece of carrot cake at a celebratory supper, but other than that I did well. I’ve lost about 2.5 pounds since the beginning of February. I need to get on the ball with exercising though. Really, really!! Don’t even ask about getting the kids (and myself) in bed on time or going to bed with a tidy house. Pft! But hey, it’s a new week!
Here are my habits I’m currently working on:
1.) Go to bed and get up on time. – In bed around 11, up at 6:30 a.m.
2.) Start my day with time with the Lord. – About 30 minutes, reading straight through the bible.
3.) Use my food/activity diary with MyFitnessPal.com with my iPod app. – If you want to join me, my username is “mrsamberoliver.” Come find me!)
4.) Drink enough water. – 8 glasses a day or more.
5.) Weigh and measure myself at the beginning of the week. – The goal is to keep an eye on it, not to obsess over it.
6.) Make healthy eating choices. – Choosing healthy foods over less healthy ones, leave the unhealthy things alone.
7.) Be diligent with the kids’ bed routine, story time, prayer time, in bed on time – so that they get enough sleep to be healthy, too!
8.) Go to bed with a tidy house. – This helps the next day get off to a great start!
9.) Add exercise time to the morning. – Working up to 20 minutes every day or almost every day.
10.) No added sugar! – For a week or maybe two, to break that crave and kickstart my weight loss (hopefully.)
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