Most people don't have a firm grasp on how much sugar they consume on an annual basis. And it's been said that the average person consumes more than 40 pounds of the stuff in a calendar year - pretty crazy when you think of it in that way, right?
We think sugar consumption comes in the form of cookies, cakes, and candy. But the real issue is the high doses of sugar found hiding in everyday processed, packaged products - even the savory ones! And when we consume these on the regular, those sugar grams add up fast. Making a few mindful tweaks can make all the difference though.
here are a few of my favorite ways to keep added sugar to a minimum:
Choose fruit. The next time you have that afternoon sweets craving, try reaching for a piece of fruit first. Yes, I'm sure you've heard this advice before, but that's because it works! Fruit, especially when it's in season, can be super sweet and satisfying. Think ripe strawberries, a juicy peach, or a crisp apple. The sugars in fruit are paired with fiber, water, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. It's the added sugar that's the problem - and yes, that includes honey and maple syrup.
Protein + Fiber + Fat. I call this the trinity of healthy eating. This power combo fills you up and keeps you satisfied for hours. So often we reach for sugar as as quick energy boost because we aren't feeding ourselves the proper combination of macronutrients. Focus on these three elements at each meal and you'll be less likely to reach for the sweet stuff later on.
Phase it out. Do you put sugar in your coffee every morning? Try decreasing the amount gradually until you no longer use it. Or swap out the white stuff for a small amount of maple syrup instead and then cut back from there. The same goes for soda - keep cutting back the amount you drink until you eventually get to zero. Give yourself a goal each week. So much of kicking the sugar habit has to do with retraining our taste buds. And If you're ready for it - go cold turkey for a week and see how you feel on day seven!
Read those labels. Is your pantry brimming with packaged, processed foods? I guarantee almost every one of them has added sugar - even the savory, salty ones! Ideally we shouldn't eat any food that comes from a box, bag, or can - but in today's culture that's near impossible and simply unrealistic. So - be sure to read those ingredient and nutrition labels before putting any packaged item into your cart. There are over 30 names for added sugar! Luckily a good number of food companies are now including the amount of added sugar in addition to total sugar on nutrition labels. You want this number to be zero if it's listed - and if it's not, look to the ingredient list.
Drown out cravings with water. Sometimes, we think we're hungry when we're actually thirsty. And other times, feeling anxious and stressed causes us to reach for a comforting sweet treat. Whatever the desire, a big glass of water can help solve the problem. Hydrate, then wait 15-20 minutes before you give in to that craving. Guess what? You'll likely forget you even wanted the candy. And if not, remember my first tip? Choose something naturally sweet like fresh fruit.
Whenever I have the urge for a sweet treat (yes, even a health coach needs her fix sometimes), I reach for 70%+ dark chocolate, dried fruit, Medjool dates, creamy cashew butter, or an herbal tea with a drizzle of raw honey. And if the craving really strikes, I'll make one of my healthier, naturally sweetened desserts.
It takes time to get used to life without added sugar, but I guarantee you'll soon feel better than ever - with more energy, a glowing complexion, and better sleep included!
Reach out in the comments and tell me your favorite naturally sweet treats. And have you made any of my desserts?