How to stop your sugar cravings in just 4 weeks
If you love all things sugar, you might be tempted to confess, “Hi, my name is ________ and I’m addicted to sugar.” Our culture is obsessed with sugar and it’s no wonder many of us feel addicted to it. You can find sugar in everything from soda and snacks to seemingly healthy items like yogurt and oatmeal. In fact, the average American consumes close to 132 pounds of sugar a year! But, before you throw your hands up and reach for the white stuff, learn what you can do to limit your sugar intake and get your diet under control.
The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends that a woman consumes just 7% (or 100 calories) of her daily calories from sugars. When one can of soda contains 8-10 teaspoons of sugar, it’s easy to see why a person’s consumption can get out of hand. But, as mentioned above obvious sweet treats aren’t the only high sugar content culprits. Other foods, such as fruit and oatmeal can contain sugar as well.
All of this matters for a variety of reasons. More people have diabetes than ever before and that’s, in part, due to an unhealthy diet full of sugar. People with diets high in sugar are at risk for Type II Diabetes, high triglyceride levels, higher levels of bad cholesterol and lower levels of good cholesterol. Sugar has been linked to other common health conditions such as migraines, depression, and osteoporosis.
It’s a never-ending cycle
Take this fact into consideration: The more sugar you consume, the higher your tolerance for it becomes; the higher your tolerance, the more you can consume and so on. The best way to reduce your sugar intake is going cold turkey. That sounds like a hard task. But, rest assured that in four weeks, you can go from being a sugar addict to controlling your sugar intake and maintaining a healthier lifestyle.
How to End Sugar Cravings Week 1: Reduce
The first step to kicking sugar to the curb is to identify where sugars are in your everyday foods. You will want to remove obvious sugar culprits like cookies, granola and other foods from your home. Next, you will want to look a bit further into the labels of the foods you select at the grocery store. If you see any type of sugar listed within the first five ingredients, it’s a safe bet not to consume that product. Types of sugar include: high-fructose corn syrup, grape juice concentrate, dextrose, glucose and more.
Donate or throw out the products that contain high amounts of sugar. That sounds extreme and it is. The point is to detox your system of refined sugar in order to re-introduce you to naturally occurring sugars. It’s 7 days of your life that may spark a lifelong change and add years to your life. Don’t you think that’s worth it?
How to End Sugar Cravings Week 2: Replace
It’s time to replace the foods you threw out. All the processed sugar can be replaced with naturally occurring sugars in foods that are good for you. Instead of high sugar cereals, try plain oatmeal (not instant) with fruit or make your own yogurt parfait with Greek yogurt instead of sweetened yogurt. You may consider swapping foods labeled “sugar-free” in place of the foods with processed sugar. However, be careful in making those types of substitutions. Some sugar-free foods do provide less sugar content, but they are laced with additives that may have adverse side effects.
How to End Sugar Cravings Week 3: Stop the cravings!
You may want to enjoy a brownie, some ice cream or a piece of candy at some point. You have to remember that the more you eat sweets, the more you will want them. Instead of giving into a craving, drink a glass of water, take time to clean something in your home, take a walk…in other words, distract yourself from the craving. After you have done so, if you’re still having the craving, be sure to eat a healthy substitute. For example, an apple with one tablespoon of peanut butter is a great snack that is sweet and provides a good amount of protein.
You’ll find that if you do eat something sweet at this stage that it will taste much sweeter and you won’t enjoy it as much. That’s the goal. Do not eat more sweets in order to build that tolerance up or you’ll be right back at square one.
How to End Sugar Cravings Week 4: Maintain
It is possible that you will never eat another cookie or piece of candy in your life? Sure. However, is that likely? Not very. It makes more sense to have a game plan to manage your sweet cravings. At this point, your cravings will be lessened and you should have a lower threshold for sweets. Occasional treats in moderation is a great way to incorporate sweets into your life every now and again. Don’t make eating sugary foods a habit and you’ll be well on your way to consuming much less sugar than the average American.
Remember, life is about balance. After 3-4 weeks, this new low-sugar behavior will feel more like a natural habit. You’re body will not crave as much sugar. Still, old habits die hard. So… if you find yourself slipping into old habits, recognize it but don’t bother beating yourself up over it. Keep experimenting with new recipes and new low-sugar treats. You’ll be surprised by how many healthy foods are available when you look for them. We post a lot of healthy recipes on our blog. Try them. Let us know what you think.