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12 Easy Ways To Consume Less Sugar

12 Easy Ways To Consume Less Sugar

Americans consume over 22 teaspoons of added sugar every day, which is three times the amount recommended by the American Heart Association. Because of the increasing health risk, the World Health Organization recently released new guidelines saying only 5% of a person’s total daily calories should come from sugar. This means the average American needs to decrease their daily sugar intake by two thirds. This can be easier said than done sometimes.

Consuming too much sugar can have major health risks. Recent studies show that excess sugar intake raises the risk of death from heart disease by 20% or more. It’s also been shown to have effects on obesity, metabolism, brain function, diabetes and possibly even cancer.

Here are 12 easy ways to consume less sugar and have a positive impact on your overall health.

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1. Don’t trust your will power

One of the best ways to ensure you won’t consume too much sugar is to make sure it’s not there when your craving strikes. Don’t buy any candy, cakes, brownie mixes, chocolate chips or ice cream at the store. Don’t purchase cookies for the local school fundraiser. Avoid the company break room. Sugar proof your house, car and desk as much as possible.

2. Brush your teeth immediately after a meal

Many times we crave something sweet after a meal simply because we want a different taste on our palette. When you brush, the body senses the change and will often times eliminate the craving for something sweet. Brushing also allows you to take ten minutes after a meal to let your food settle and sense your stomach’s fullness. If you aren’t somewhere you can brush, chew on a piece of sugarfree gum instead.

3. Use only oil and vinegar on your salads

Many bottled salad dressings are hidden treasure troves of sugar. Nutritionist Keri Glassman warns that “light” and “low fat” salad dressings often times have even more sugar than their full fat counterparts. She recommends choosing an oil and vinegar based dressing. Trying making one at home with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, dijon mustard, salt and pepper.

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4. Ditch the juice

Yes, your freshly squeezed orange juice contains Vitamin C, folate and antioxidants. It also can contain 21 grams of sugar in one cup. You are always better off choosing the whole fruit versus the fruit juice. Your body will process the natural sugar more slowly due to the fiber content, and you will feel full quicker and longer.

5. Avoid “low-fat” packaged and processed foods

When food manufacturers remove fat, they also remove flavor. To make food more palatable, sugar is often added. These seemingly “healthy” foods can be sugar bombs. For example, a Starbucks “skinny” blueberry muffin contains 34.7 grams of sugar, which is 6.6 grams MORE sugar than their classic blueberry muffin. Instead of “low fat”, fill your diet with fresh fruits and veggies, whole grains and healthy fats such as avocado and almonds.

6. Read the ingredient label

Did you know Yoplait Original Yogurt has more sugar than a serving of Ben and Jerry’s Vanilla Ice Cream? According to the USDA, there are more than 29 different names for added sugars on food labels. Start reading ingredient labels, especially on any bottled, canned or packaged food you purchase. If you see dextrose, furctose, lactose, maltose, molasses, nectar, corn syrup, cane juice or glucose, you can be sure that added sugars have been snuck into the food.

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7. Buy more grapes

Grapes are like little explosions of natural sugar in your mouth. They are also full of water, fiber and antioxidants. Keep red seedless grapes washed and ready to eat in your refrigerator. When a sugar craving strikes, avoid the graham crackers and grab a handful of grapes instead.

8. Go for a walk

Many of us reach for sugar for the quick high it produces. When we are down, sugar can seem to elevate our mood in the short term. Luckily, exercise has the same effect without the health risks. By releasing endorphins, you will feel happier. You will also feel more confident as you continue to exercise and become stronger. Don’t be surprised if you have no desire for those cookies after your hike, walk or swim.

9. Avoid fancy alcoholic drinks and stick to beer and wine

A typical margarita on the rocks contains 31 grams of sugar, well over the recommended daily value. A 5 oz glass of chardonnay only contains 1.4 grams. If you are drinking, stick to wine, beer or vodka with water to limit your sugar intake.

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10. Order the flourless chocolate cake

If you are going to give in and have some sugar, make it something good. If you find yourself out at a nice restaurant that specializes in dessert, by all means order the chocolate cake and split it with your date for the night. If you follow an impulse at the store and purchase cookies full of preservatives and fillers, they won’t taste good or satisfy your craving. You are then more likely to want something else the next day. When you go for sugar, chose real, high quality ingredients so you are truly satisfied.

11. Call your best friend

When we are under stress, our body produces hormones such as cortisol as part of our fight-or-flight response. These hormones not only directly affect our blood sugar levels, but they also can lead to late night ice cream binging. Find ways to decrease stress levels and get your mind off any negative thoughts. Call a friend, watch a funny movie or meditate, and you may find you crave less sugar.

12. Get some zzzz’s

A study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that when people were deprived of sleep, their late-night snacking increased. Not only that, but they were more likely to choose high-carbohydrate snacks, which cause a spike in blood sugar. Get more sleep to help decrease cravings and binging.

Apply these simple actions to your life and you will be improving both your short-term and long-term health.

Featured photo credit: Viktor Hanacek via picjumbo.com

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Last Updated on January 21, 2020

The Best Way to Create a Vision for the Life You Want

The Best Way to Create a Vision for the Life You Want

Creating a vision for your life might seem like a frivolous, fantastical waste of time, but it’s not: creating a compelling vision of the life you want is actually one of the most effective strategies for achieving the life of your dreams. Perhaps the best way to look at the concept of a life vision is as a compass to help guide you to take the best actions and make the right choices that help propel you toward your best life.

your vision of where or who you want to be is the greatest asset you have

    Why You Need a Vision

    Experts and life success stories support the idea that with a vision in mind, you are more likely to succeed far beyond what you could otherwise achieve without a clear vision. Think of crafting your life vision as mapping a path to your personal and professional dreams. Life satisfaction and personal happiness are within reach. The harsh reality is that if you don’t develop your own vision, you’ll allow other people and circumstances to direct the course of your life.

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    How to Create Your Life Vision

    Don’t expect a clear and well-defined vision overnight—envisioning your life and determining the course you will follow requires time, and reflection. You need to cultivate vision and perspective, and you also need to apply logic and planning for the practical application of your vision. Your best vision blossoms from your dreams, hopes, and aspirations. It will resonate with your values and ideals, and will generate energy and enthusiasm to help strengthen your commitment to explore the possibilities of your life.

    What Do You Want?

    The question sounds deceptively simple, but it’s often the most difficult to answer. Allowing yourself to explore your deepest desires can be very frightening. You may also not think you have the time to consider something as fanciful as what you want out of life, but it’s important to remind yourself that a life of fulfillment does not usually happen by chance, but by design.

    It’s helpful to ask some thought-provoking questions to help you discover the possibilities of what you want out of life. Consider every aspect of your life, personal and professional, tangible and intangible. Contemplate all the important areas, family and friends, career and success, health and quality of life, spiritual connection and personal growth, and don’t forget about fun and enjoyment.

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    Some tips to guide you:

    • Remember to ask why you want certain things
    • Think about what you want, not on what you don’t want.
    • Give yourself permission to dream.
    • Be creative. Consider ideas that you never thought possible.
    • Focus on your wishes, not what others expect of you.

    Some questions to start your exploration:

    • What really matters to you in life? Not what should matter, what does matter.
    • What would you like to have more of in your life?
    • Set aside money for a moment; what do you want in your career?
    • What are your secret passions and dreams?
    • What would bring more joy and happiness into your life?
    • What do you want your relationships to be like?
    • What qualities would you like to develop?
    • What are your values? What issues do you care about?
    • What are your talents? What’s special about you?
    • What would you most like to accomplish?
    • What would legacy would you like to leave behind?

    It may be helpful to write your thoughts down in a journal or creative vision board if you’re the creative type. Add your own questions, and ask others what they want out of life. Relax and make this exercise fun. You may want to set your answers aside for a while and come back to them later to see if any have changed or if you have anything to add.

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    What Would Your Best Life Look Like?

    Describe your ideal life in detail. Allow yourself to dream and imagine, and create a vivid picture. If you can’t visualize a picture, focus on how your best life would feel. If you find it difficult to envision your life 20 or 30 years from now, start with five years—even a few years into the future will give you a place to start. What you see may surprise you. Set aside preconceived notions. This is your chance to dream and fantasize.

    A few prompts to get you started:

    • What will you have accomplished already?
    • How will you feel about yourself?
    • What kind of people are in your life? How do you feel about them?
    • What does your ideal day look like?
    • Where are you? Where do you live? Think specifics, what city, state, or country, type of community, house or an apartment, style and atmosphere.
    • What would you be doing?
    • Are you with another person, a group of people, or are you by yourself?
    • How are you dressed?
    • What’s your state of mind? Happy or sad? Contented or frustrated?
    • What does your physical body look like? How do you feel about that?
    • Does your best life make you smile and make your heart sing? If it doesn’t, dig deeper, dream bigger.

    It’s important to focus on the result, or at least a way-point in your life. Don’t think about the process for getting there yet—that’s the next stepGive yourself permission to revisit this vision every day, even if only for a few minutes. Keep your vision alive and in the front of your mind.

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    Plan Backwards

    It may sound counter-intuitive to plan backwards rather than forwards, but when you’re planning your life from the end result, it’s often more useful to consider the last step and work your way back to the first. This is actually a valuable and practical strategy for making your vision a reality.

    • What’s the last thing that would’ve had to happen to achieve your best life?
    • What’s the most important choice you would’ve had to make?
    • What would you have needed to learn along the way?
    • What important actions would you have had to take?
    • What beliefs would you have needed to change?
    • What habits or behaviors would you have had to cultivate?
    • What type of support would you have had to enlist?
    • How long will it have taken you to realize your best life?
    • What steps or milestones would you have needed to reach along the way?

    Now it’s time to think about your first step, and the next step after that. Ponder the gap between where you are now and where you want to be in the future. It may seem impossible, but it’s quite achievable if you take it step-by-step.

    It’s important to revisit this vision from time to time. Don’t be surprised if your answers to the questions, your technicolor vision, and the resulting plans change. That can actually be a very good thing; as you change in unforeseeable ways, the best life you envision will change as well. For now, it’s important to use the process, create your vision, and take the first step towards making that vision a reality.

    Featured photo credit: Matt Noble via unsplash.com

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