Now I love sugar just as much as the next person, everybody who knows me knows I love my hobnobs. But there comes a time in a man’s life when you really have to say enough is enough, and you have to cut out all those things which just aren’t good for you (no matter how pleasant!)
Now, I don’t really like doing things in small measures, which is why I recently went through a 30 day sugar free challenge (no sugar, no honey, minimal fruit, you know…). I’ll admit, I thought it would be a lot harder, but in fact it was a lot easier than expected and now at the other side of those 30 days I honestly don’t really feel cravings for sugar at all.
Wait there Jay, you said cut down on sugar and now you’re saying sugar free!
Well this was my approach, but don’t worry. I know some of you may not be ready for such a big jump so I am going to give you tips on how to cut down on sugar.
Don’t get me wrong though, if I can do it anyone can. Those of you who know me know I had an evil sweet tooth.
But before I get into my tips on how to cut down on sugar, let’s talk about some of the reasons why we need to cut down on sugar.
1 – Ok, the first, most obvious reason is sugars affect on our weight. Although we all know that the excess consumption of calories is what causes weight gain, we can say that sugar is a major contributor to this. As we can eat two items of food of similar size and weight, yet the one with most sugar will normally outweigh the other with regards to calories.
So quite unaware we are consuming a lot more calories than we think just by adding sugar.
2 – Another bad consequence of eating too much sugar is that it can create a spike in insulin.
Insulin naturally increases when we eat sugar so that it can take the sugar out of the bloodstream and move it into our organs so it can be used as energy. The problem here though is two-fold insulin creates energy storage for when we need energy, but if we are consuming more energy than we are using then we all know that that energy is stored as fat.
Secondly, too much insulin creation can actually result in a breakdown in your insulin hormone and how it works and this can cause the onset of diabetes.
3 – I don’t think I really need to go over the affect that too much sugar has on teeth. We’ve been drilled about this since we we’re children. Sugar feeds the bacteria that cause tooth decay. As this effect can be kept to a minimal with good oral hygiene it’s not the greatest problem when it comes to sugar, but it’s always worth keeping this in mind and remembering that the longer your teeth are exposed to sugar the more acid that is produced, so always keep your sugar consumption to a minimal.
4 – Sugar feeds cancer! Although this issue is still in debate about how much of an impact sugar has on cancer cells, it is well accepted that sugar feeds cancer cells.
Sugar, in fact feeds all the cells in our bodies, it’s actually needed for the some important brain functions. A great amount of research shows that it is sugar’s relationship to higher insulin levels and related growth factors that may influence cancer cell growth the most, and increase the risk of other chronic diseases. A lot of cancer cells have a numerous amounts of insulin receptors which make them respond more than normal cells to insulin’s ability to promote growth.
*Please note: I realise I just mentioned that sugar is needed for some important cell functions. But this doesn’t necessarily mean processed sugar. Even without any carbohydrate in the diet, your body will make sugar from other sources, including protein and fat.
So now we’ve talked about some of the reasons why you should cut down on sugar let’s talk how to cut down. According to the American heart Association women should have no more than six teaspoons per day (25 grams), and men should have no more than nine teaspoons per day (37 grams).
Great Jay, so how do we cut down to our recommended amount of sugar?
1. Assess where your daily sugar intake is coming from.
Try keeping a food journal for period of time. This will help you assess exactly where and when you’re taking in the excess sugar. Then you’ll know what to focus on.
2. Throw away all the refined goods in your cupboard.
Take a deep breath and grab your trash can then throw in all your … bread, pasta, rice, soda, artificial sweeteners, jams, biscuits, etc.
3. Choose healthier versions of beverages and snacks.
Use unsweetened fruit juices. Stay away from fizzy drinks and don’t add sugar to your tea or coffee. If you use tinned fruits, buy the ones in natural juices rather than syrup.
4. Cut the carbs mealtimes.
Rather than cereals or toast for breakfast, try eggs, omelettes or smoothies. Have lettuce wraps, salad or soup for lunch and make dinner mainly vegetables and protein with some healthy fats.
5. Drink lots of water.
Plain water is always the best, but if you really can’t handle it plain and need a little flavour, add fresh lemon or lime.
6. If you enjoy baking, or have someone who enjoys baking, start halving the amount of sugar you put in.
It works quite well with most recipes.
7. Plan your meals in advance.
Take 30 minutes to an hour each week and plan out what you might eat that week. Then go and get the shopping needed so you’re not caught unaware. I find that hunger is normally the cause of snacking and usually leads to sugary snacking. Whenever you have extra time, prepare meals in advance. This will put snacking to minimum, you can even bring the food with you when you leave so you’re not caught without something substantial when hunger hits.
8. Get some accountability!
Sometimes all you need is a little support and someone who’s going to check up on how you’re doing and what you’re eating. Speak to someone who you think will support you about your goals and ask them to check in with you to make sure you’re keeping to them.
I hope these tips will help you to cut down and eventually curb your whole sugar habit. Try starting straight away. Go straight to tip 1. Get a journal and write down everything you eat and drink this week.
How much sugar did you consume? Try to cut down a bit further the every week by following the other tips and you’ll be sugar free before you know it.
Speak soon and until then …