You may already be well aware of the damaging effects of sugar on the human body. A diet high in sugar doesn’t just contain more calories than a healthy diet — eating too much sugar on a regular basis can lead to heart disease and diabetes down the road. Plus, sugar-laden meals cause mood swings, cravings, and the inevitable sugar “crash” that can dampen the productivity of any day.
Natural sugars, like those found in fruit, are absolutely okay to eat every day. However, added sugars in processed foods are where the trouble starts. Added sugars are more difficult for the body to process and don’t deliver any nutritional value. While a small amount as a treat is okay from time to time, we often aren’t aware of how much sugar we’re actually consuming on a daily basis.
The American Heart Association recommends no more than 6 teaspoons, or 25 grams of added sugars daily for women and no more than 9 teaspoons, or 36 grams for men. For some perspective, a single 12-ounce can of soda contains 8 teaspoons. Yikes! Added sugars are hidden in everything from ketchup to salad dressings.
With all the added sugars hiding in your favorite foods, you may be wondering how cutting down on sugar can become second-nature in your diet. Luckily, with a few simple lifestyle switches, you can cut back on sugar bit by bit to develop a healthier diet and body. Follow these tips and tricks if you’re wondering how to reduce sugar intake for good!
What happens when you stop eating sugar?
Did you know that sugar is actually addictive? Studies have shown that sugar dependency is very real, so don’t expect your sugar cravings to disappear overnight. Once you are able to significantly cut down on your daily sugar intake, you can expect to feel more energized, more productive, and see your mood stabilize. Plus, you’ll likely lose weight over time without the added calories from sugar!
As with quitting any addictive substance, you’re also bound to experience “withdrawal” symptoms. These include headaches, anxiety, and cravings. It’s important to push past these initial symptoms to see the full benefits of going sugar-free rather than give into your cravings.
1. Avoid sugary beverages
This one’s self-explanatory, but absolutely worth a mention! Beverages are meant to hydrate you, not damage your health. Instead of reaching for a sugary soda — which contains your entire day’s allowance of added sugar — opt for a flavored, sparkling water or add a flavored, sugar-free hydration pack to your regular water. Many hydration packs pack a surprising punch of sugar in each serving. Morning Routine is different. Each pack delivers health benefits and increases hydration without harmful added sugars. Plus, they taste delicious! This simple step will cut sugar from your daily diet and make staying hydrated more appetizing and enjoyable!
2. Get a good night’s sleep
Besides those dreaded eye bags, a restless night can actually cause your cravings for sugar and junk food to increase, too! One study found that individuals who suffered from sleep deprivation were more likely to reach for foods that are responsible for weight gain, including sugary options. Whether you’ve noticed this trend in your own diet or not, make it a point to get the sleep you need for your brain and body to function at its best every day.
3. Pay attention to nutrition labels
Just because it looks healthy doesn’t mean it is! Even self-proclaimed “healthy” snacks can contain high levels of sugar and sodium in each serving. Reading (and re-reading) your food’s nutrition labels will increase your awareness of what you’re putting into your body so you can make the healthiest choices when it’s time to eat. Keep the AHA’s daily recommendation of sugar in mind whenever you’re deciding what to snack on throughout the day.
4. Eat more healthy fats and protein
While diets high in sugar lead to increased cravings and worse moods, healthy diets loaded with protein and fat will have the opposite effect. When you’re hungry, you might be tempted to reach for sugary foods — but be warned, these foods will only temporarily solve your hunger. Protein-rich foods will keep you fuller longer, so in turn you’ll be less likely to snack on unhealthy foods throughout the day.
Too many added sugars in your diet may be holding you back from your health goals. Due to its addictive qualities, cutting down on sugar can be difficult, but it’s definitely not impossible! If you’re ready to make the switch to a low-sugar lifestyle, take these tips with you as you adjust your diet. It may take some time for your cravings to subside, but don’t give up — the results will be worth it, and you’ll find yourself less dependent on sugar for good!
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