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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 October 13, 2020

How to Spot a Burnout And Overcome It Fast

How to Spot a Burnout And Overcome It Fast

Burnout at work is an issue that most people who suffer from it, suffer unknowingly.

Have you ever felt that you can’t start an assignment, have an immense urge to Netflix binge, or couldn’t get yourself to wake up on time even though you have a lot on your plate? The cause for these might be burnout.

According to Deloitte’s report, “many companies may not be doing enough to minimize burnout.” This is to say that the responsibility is not only on the employee. According to that report, nearly 70 percent of professionals feel their employers are not doing enough to prevent or alleviate burnout within their organization, and they definitely should.[1]

Too many companies don’t invest enough in creating a positive environment. One out of five (21%) said that their company does not offer any programs or initiatives to prevent or alleviate burnout. It is the culture, not the fancy well-being programs that would probably do the best work.

This is a significant problem for individuals and companies, and it’s also an issue on a macro level. A Stanford University research found that more than 120,000 deaths per year, and approximately 5%–8% of annual healthcare costs, are associated with the way U.S. companies manage their workforces.[2]

It is both the employee and the employer’s responsibility—and the latter can certainly take more responsibility.

In this article, I’ll guide you on how to know if you suffer from burnout and, more importantly, what you can do about it.

Who Are Prone to Burning Out?

For starters, it is a good thing to know that you’re in good company. According to a Gallup poll, 23% (of 7,500 surveyed) expressed burnout more often than not. Additionally, 44% felt it sometimes. Nearly 50% of social entrepreneurs who attended the World Economic Forum’s Annual Meeting in 2018 reported having struggled with burnout and depression at some point.[3]

According to Statista (2017), 13% of adults reported having problems unwinding in the evenings and weekends. According to a Deloitte survey (consisting of 1,000 full-time U.S. employees), 77% of respondents said that they have experienced employee burnout at their current job.[4]

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Burnout is not only an issue of the spoiled first-world. Rather, it is a serious matter that must be taken care of appropriately. It affects so many people, and its impacts are just too significant to be ignored.

Some occupations are more prone to burnout, such as people who deeply care about their jobs more than others. According to the Harvard Business Review, “Passion-driven and caregiving roles such as doctors and nurses are some of the most susceptible to burnout.”

The consequences can have life or death ramifications as “suicide rates among caregivers are dramatically higher than that of the general public—40% higher for men and 130% higher for women”. It is also the case for teachers, non-profit workers, and leaders of all kinds.[5]

Deloitte’s survey also found that 91% say that they have an unmanageable amount of stress or frustration. Heck, 83% even say that it can negatively impact their relationships. Millennials are slightly more impacted by burnout (84% of Gen Y vs. 77% in other generations).

What Is Burnout Syndrome?

So, what is it, exactly? Burnout was officially included in the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11) and is an occupational phenomenon.

According to the World Health Organization, burnout includes three dimensions:[6]

  1. Feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion;
  2. Increased mental distance from one’s job, or feelings of negativism or cynicism related to one’s job;
  3. Reduced professional efficacy.

The 5 Stages of Burnout

At this point, you must have a clue if you’re at risk of burnout. There are different methods for understanding where you are on the burnout syndrome scale, and one of the most common ones is the “five stages method.”

1. Honeymoon Phase

As you may remember If you’ve gotten married, there’s always the honeymoon phase. You’re so happy and feel almost invincible. You love your spouse and at this stage, you’re very excited about everything. It’s the same when it comes to taking on a new job or role or starting a new business.

At first, most of the time, you’re hyper-motivated. Although you might be able to notice signs of potential future burnout, in most cases, you might ignore them. You’re highly productive, super motivated, creative, and accept (and take) responsibility.

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The honeymoon phase is critical because if you plant the seeds of good mental health and coping strategies, you can stay at this phase for extended periods.

2. Onset of Stress

Let’s continue with the wedding metaphor. Now that you’re happily married for some time, you might start noticing certain issues with your spouse that you don’t like. You might have seen them before, but now they take up more space in your life.

You might be less optimistic and feel signs of stress or minor symptoms of physical or emotional fatigue at work. Your productivity reduces, and you think that your motivation is lower.

3. Chronic Stress

Let’s hope you don’t get there in your marriage, but unfortunately, some people get there. At this stage, your stress level is consistently high, and the other symptoms of stage 2 persist.

At this point, you start missing deadlines, your sleep quality is low, and you’re resentful and cynical. Your caffeine consumption might be higher, and you’re increasingly unsatisfied.

4. Burnout

This is the point where you can’t go on unless there is a significant change in your workspace environment. You have a strong desire to move to another place, and clinical intervention is sometimes required.

You feel neglected, your physical symptoms are increasing, and you get to a place where your stomach hurts daily. You might obsess over problems in your life or work and, generally speaking, you should treat yourself.

5. Habitual Burnout

This is the phase in which burnout is embedded in your life. You might experience chest pains or difficulty breathing, outbursts of anger or apathy, and physical symptoms of chronic fatigue.

The Causes of Burnout

So, now that we know how to identify our stage of burnout, we can move on to tackling its leading causes. According to the Gallup survey, the top burnout reasons are:[7]

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  1. Getting unfair treatment at work – This is not always something that you can fully control. At the same time, you should remember that even if you’re not calling the shots, it doesn’t mean that you have to accept unfair treatment. The consequences mentioned above are just not worth it in most cases.
  2. Workload – Another leading cause of stress according to dozens of interviews conducted before writing the article. According to Statista, in 2017, 39% of workers said a heavy workload was their leading cause of stress. We live in a busy work environment, and we will share some tips on how to manage that.
  3. Not knowing your role – While not something you can fully control, you can, and probably should, take action to better define it with your boss.
  4. Inadequate communication and support from your manager – Like the others above, you can’t fully control that, but as we’ll soon share, you can take action to be in better control.
  5. Time pressure – As mentioned, motivated, passionate workers are more in danger of experiencing burnout. One of the reasons is that they’re pressuring themselves to do more, sometimes at the expense of their mental health. We’ll address how to work on that as well.

How to Overcome a Burnout

After going over the stages of burnout and the leading causes of becoming burned out, it might be a good time to let you know that there is a lot you can do to fight it head-on.

However, let’s start with what you should not do. Burnout cannot be fixed by going on a vacation. It should be a long-term solution, implemented daily.

According to Clockify (2019), these are the popular ways to avoid burnout:

  1. Focus on your family life – 60% of adults said that stable family life is key to avoiding burnout. Maintaining meaningful relationships in your life is proven to reduce stress (instead of having many unmeaningful relationships).
  2. Exercising comes in second, with 58% reporting that jogging, running, or doing any exercise significantly relieves stress. Even a relatively short walk might improve your body’s resilience to stress.
  3. Seek professional advice – 55% say they would turn to a professional. There are online websites where you can speak with professionals at reduced costs.

Aside from the three most popular ways of avoiding burnout, you can also try the following:

1. Improve Time Management

Try understanding how you can use your time better and leave more time for relaxation. That’s easy to say (or write) but more challenging to implement. It would help if you started by prioritizing yourself. Understanding the connection between your values and your everyday tasks is a tremendous help. You can use proven methods to improve the relationship between your vision and goals to your daily life tasks’ lists. Check out the Horizons of Focus or V2MOM methods to get started.

2. Use the P.L.E.A.S.E. Method

The P.L.E.A.S.E. is a combination of things you should do to be at your best physically. It means Physical Illness (P.L.) prevention, Eat healthy (E), Avoid mood-altering drugs (A), Sleep well (S), and Exercise (E).

3. Prioritize

You don’t have to say yes to everything that comes across your way at work (or in other aspects of life). You’d be surprised how easy it can become once you start saying no. Some might even describe it as exhilarating.

4. Let Your Brain rest

Culturally, most of us are already wired to think that hard work is essential, and while that’s true in most cases, we sometimes forget that our brain needs to rest for it to recharge. Seven hours of sleep are essential (depending on your age). Meditation might be helpful, too.

5. Pay Attention to Positive Events

According to Therapistaid.com, we tend to focus on the bad things in our lives. However, by focusing on positive things, we can change our mindset. One way to practice this daily is by writing three good things about your life every morning or evening. It’s been scientifically proven that doing so for a few months can help rewire your brain.

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6. Take Some “You” Time

A Netflix binge is not always good for you, but it might be in some cases. The better the leisure time is, the better you’ll feel in the long term. It’s usually better to read a book or start a new hobby that requires more cognitive skills than just lying on the couch. But as long as you feel good watching a movie, that might be a good start.

7. New Technologies Might Be Helpful

There are tons of self-help apps such as Fabulous, Headspace (meditation), Noom (diet and exercise), and others. They’re good to use, but you should also be careful not to run away from your problems only to watch social media for hours. It’s not real, and no one’s life is perfect (even if their Facebook or Instagram feeds might seem so). You should also be aware not to be in an “always-on” mindset.

Bottom Line

Whether you’re at the first or the fifth stage of the burnout phases, the goal of this article is to show you that there are always ways to fight it. The first thing is self-awareness—knowing that there’s a problem. The second step is to decide what to do about it.

You can also consider using Lifehack’s community. You’re more than welcome to share your burnout story on our Facebook page.

Bonus: Rebound from Burnout in 8 Hours

Watch what you can do to rebound from burnout quickly in this episode of The Lifehack Show:

https://youtu.be/MNnyqQWK_zg

Featured photo credit: Lechon Kirb via unsplash.com

Reference

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