Office holiday parties. Office cookie exchanges. Family holiday gatherings. No matter where you look during this time of year, there are sugary treats tempting you to overload. I can usually be disciplined but it is difficult during that 3pm wall at work when I’m debating between another cup of coffee or raiding the vending machine.
Far from a New Year’s resolution and more like a daily affirmation, I’m working on decreasing my sugar intake. I’m not daunted by this as I’ve been able to cut out other foods such as dairy once I realized I’m lactose intolerant, but sugar is a whole other beast.
A sugary diet has been linked to some some cancers, Alzheimer’s disease, memory loss and even premature aging. The worse kind of sugar is the added sugar in our foods such as baked goods and condiments. Natural sugars in fruits (fructose) is easily broken down in our body and as fruits also contain antioxidants and fiber, it balances out the levels of fructose.
The American Heart Association notes that women should only consume no more than six teaspoons of added sugar per day (or about 100 calories), however in actuality we consume double that number. In terms of added sugar, this is everything from salad dressings, condiments and other packaged foods. Natural sugar is much harder to avoid and isn’t the actual culprit. Its the added sugar that we need to be careful with.
Here some tips that I’ve come across to help kick the sugary habit:
- Read and write: Back to the basics. Read as many and all the labels you can. You’ll start noticing that ingredients are listed in order of their amount so if sugar is close to the top, be careful. Note that sugar is not always listed plainly. It can appear as molasses, sucrose, corn syrup, etc. Also, start taking note of what you eat throughout the day. By seeing it on paper you can see starkly just what you’re consuming and where you’re going over with sugar. Tracking your intake for 3-5 is enough to see eating patterns.
- Watch what you drink. The amount of sugar in energy drinks, juices, caffeinated and diet drinks is shocking when you tally it all up. Worst of all if you drink a few of these a day. Look for drinks that are unsweetened or use natural sources of sugar such as honey as a replacement.
- More protein, less carb. Sugar isn’t found just in the white powder form. Many carbohydrates are loaded with sugar which causes blood sugar levels to rise and drop very quickly. If you divided your plate into quarters, carbs should only be 1/4 while the rest is protein filled with greens, meat, and/or legumes. Increasing your fat intake helps you feel fuller longer, which helps with cutting the sugar cravings.
- Replace treats with fruits, but not all the time. Instead of hitting up the vending machine in my office, I’ve been bringing way more fruit to work to snack on. But every now and then I do treat myself to something sweet but this is along with a reduction in carbs in my overall diet and increasing my water intake. Thus now having a sweet snack isn’t as detrimental.
Hoping this dietary switch will become a permanent change. Are you trying to cut out any types of food/drink? Let me know how its going.