Hey friend! I’m finally back with the second installment of my sugar with more sugar-habit-crushing tips! I haven’t been super great this past couple weeks with getting my blog posts written consistently since I need to get my blog priorities straightened out a little more….
Poor scheduling aside, here is Crushing the Sugar Habit, Part 2 with more tips for cutting back on your sugar intake. If you want to the first installment for more tips, go check out my first post!
Cut Back in Steps
If you’re working on cutting back your sugar, then a lot of this depends on what kind of person you are. I am the kind of person that likes to do things in steps and gradually so I don’t feel like I’m being overwhelmed, but some people do better with the cold-turkey approach. Think about what kind of person you are and make changes that fit YOUR character traits.
When it comes to treats like cookies, candy, cake, sweet coffee drinks, etc. try to reasonably limit those. I still love having treats, so I would honestly go nuts if I couldn’t have treats ever.
If you’re eating something sweet every day, make a goal of cutting that back to every other day. After a while, cut that back to 1 or 2x a week. It’s nice to have treats like ice cream, but make sure it’s once in a while and not all the time or those sugar cravings will come back.
Also, try to pick healthier treats, like dark chocolate vs. sugary milk chocolate, homemade cookies vs. store bought cookies, or lower sugar ice cream (SO Delicious makes a sugar-free coconut milk ice cream) so you’re still keeping your sugar intake balanced.
Eat a Balanced Diet
A big part of beating the battle of sugar cravings is making sure you are eating a balanced diet and getting enough protein, complex carbohydrates, and fiber in your diet. If you are eating a high-carbohydrate diet with little fiber and protein to fill you up, you will naturally tend to crave more carbohydrates, starches, and sugars since your blood sugar will fluctuate to a greater degree.
Protein and fiber help to buffer the effect of sugars and carbohydrates on blood sugar so your energy levels will be steadier and you won’t have quite as many cravings for sugar when your blood sugar and energy levels take a dive.
Be sure you are getting enough complex carbohydrates with plenty of fiber in it (like brown rice, oatmeal, sweet potatoes, fibrous veggies, etc.). Carbohydrates are your body and brain’s preferred fuel source, so it’s essential that you don’t completely cut out carbohydrates from your diet or you won’t have much energy for your daily activities, much less workouts. Some people do better on fewer carbohydrates than others, but they are still an essential part of your diet!
If you want to add protein to your diet, shakes are fine, but make sure you’re getting the bulk of your protein in whole-food form, like chicken, fish, eggs & dairy (if you can tolerate those), etc. You can try tracking your food for a couple days to get an idea of how much protein, fat, fiber, and sugar you’re eating so you can make adjustments as necessary.
Get plenty of sleep! Make sleep a priority and experiment with the amount of restorative sleep your body needs. If you’re tired and exhausted all the time from lak of quality sleep, your body will crave a “pick-me-up”, often in the form of sugar or caffeine.
It much easier to resist the siren song of the candy dish sugary if you are well rested and well fed. On that note, make sure you aren’t drinking anything caffeinated too late in the day or too close to your bedtime or it will mess up your sleep. This goes for anything with caffeine (like tea or supplements) and not just coffee.
What About Fruit and Natural Sugars?
Some sugars are unavoidable: dairy milk has sugar in it naturally from lactose. Fruit has sugar in the form of fructose. But most of those natural sugars are okay for you to have in moderation. When you choose your fruits, stick with whole-fruit and save the juice, applesauces, and fruit leathers for occasions. With whole fruits you are getting the benefits of the fiber and antioxidants in the skin of the fruit that you often don’t get in processed fruit products.
Watch those concentrated sources of sugars even if they’re natural, like dried fruit, fruit juices, fruit smoothies, and applesauces. Some of those Naked Juices can have 30+ grams of sugar in a bottle. Even though it’s natural sugar, it’s still more sugar than a person needs in one sitting, especially if you’re not consuming it with protein and fiber too.
Eating dried fruit is okay, it is super handy for traveling and recipes. Just watch portion sizes on them since, like nuts, it’s very easy to overeat them!
Some natural sugars (like coconut sugar, date sugar, honey, pure maple syrup) are great alternatives to refined white cane sugar since they are less processed and they also have some trace minerals with them. But they are still sugars nonetheless so watch your intake of foods with those added to them and use them wisely.
I have been using the NOW Foods Better Stevia and it’s good. I have their Stevia drops in flavors like French Vanilla, English Toffee, and Coconut. They are great in recipes and coffee. When I bake cookies, sometimes I will replace 1/2 the sugar with some stevia or stevia drops to lower the sugar
Unsweetened vanilla almondmilk doesn’t have sugar added to it. It has vanilla, but no sugar, so that is a good choice.
Like I mentioned in my last post, natural sugar substitutes like xylitol, erythritol, Stevia, etc. are generally healthy to consume in moderation and can help you cut back your sugar consumption and keep blood sugar steadier, but you still are training your taste-buds to be accustomed to sweet-tasting foods, so use these in moderation. Learn to enjoy the natural tastes of foods without adding too much sweetness.
The biggest thing to remember when you’re trying to cut back on sugar or other unhealthy foods is that consistency is king. There will be days where you mess up, but if you get right back on the wagon and keep going, you will see positive changes. Your health is a long-term project! Don’t let short-term mess-ups derail your health goals.
Maintenance needs to be a top priority: making sure that you can keep your sugar consumption under control over the long term without slipping back into that place where you’re craving tons of sugar again. That is where eating treats with less sugar comes in: you can still enjoy your treats and lower the risk of falling back into sugar-cravings and bad eating habits.
NO ONE IS PERFECT. Cement that in your subconscious! I make mistakes and still eat too much sugar, but I keep working on the goal of keeping my health attainable and maintainable for the long term, and sometimes that means having grace for my own mess-ups.
I enjoy treats with added sugars now, but I still try to watch my daily sugar intake and I don’t feel like I’m addicted to sugar as much as I was before. I eat mostly unsweetened foods (coffee, almondmilk, etc.) on a daily basis, I avoid juices or sodas, and keep sweet treats relegated to 1-2 times a week. I keep my daily sugars low and save sugars for those sweet treats that I still enjoy having like cashew ice cream or homemade cookies.
It has taken some time to work through feeling like I was addicted to sugar, but but watching my sugar intake pays off!