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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 September 16, 2019

How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

You have a deadline looming. However, instead of doing your work, you are fiddling with miscellaneous things like checking email, social media, watching videos, surfing blogs and forums. You know you should be working, but you just don’t feel like doing anything.

We are all familiar with the procrastination phenomenon. When we procrastinate, we squander away our free time and put off important tasks we should be doing them till it’s too late. And when it is indeed too late, we panic and wish we got started earlier.

The chronic procrastinators I know have spent years of their life looped in this cycle. Delaying, putting off things, slacking, hiding from work, facing work only when it’s unavoidable, then repeating this loop all over again. It’s a bad habit that eats us away and prevents us from achieving greater results in life.

Don’t let procrastination take over your life. Here, I will share my personal steps on how to stop procrastinating. These 11 steps will definitely apply to you too:

1. Break Your Work into Little Steps

Part of the reason why we procrastinate is because subconsciously, we find the work too overwhelming for us. Break it down into little parts, then focus on one part at the time. If you still procrastinate on the task after breaking it down, then break it down even further. Soon, your task will be so simple that you will be thinking “gee, this is so simple that I might as well just do it now!”.

For example, I’m currently writing a new book (on How to achieve anything in life). Book writing at its full scale is an enormous project and can be overwhelming. However, when I break it down into phases such as –

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  • (1) Research
  • (2) Deciding the topic
  • (3) Creating the outline
  • (4) Drafting the content
  • (5) Writing Chapters #1 to #10,
  • (6) Revision
  • (7) etc.

Suddenly it seems very manageable. What I do then is to focus on the immediate phase and get it done to my best ability, without thinking about the other phases. When it’s done, I move on to the next.

2. Change Your Environment

Different environments have different impact on our productivity. Look at your work desk and your room. Do they make you want to work or do they make you want to snuggle and sleep? If it’s the latter, you should look into changing your workspace.

One thing to note is that an environment that makes us feel inspired before may lose its effect after a period of time. If that’s the case, then it’s time to change things around. Refer to Steps #2 and #3 of 13 Strategies To Jumpstart Your Productivity, which talks about revamping your environment and workspace.

3. Create a Detailed Timeline with Specific Deadlines

Having just 1 deadline for your work is like an invitation to procrastinate. That’s because we get the impression that we have time and keep pushing everything back, until it’s too late.

Break down your project (see tip #1), then create an overall timeline with specific deadlines for each small task. This way, you know you have to finish each task by a certain date. Your timelines must be robust, too – i.e. if you don’t finish this by today, it’s going to jeopardize everything else you have planned after that. This way it creates the urgency to act.

My goals are broken down into monthly, weekly, right down to the daily task lists, and the list is a call to action that I must accomplish this by the specified date, else my goals will be put off.

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Here’re more tips on setting deadlines: 22 Tips for Effective Deadlines

4. Eliminate Your Procrastination Pit-Stops

If you are procrastinating a little too much, maybe that’s because you make it easy to procrastinate.

Identify your browser bookmarks that take up a lot of your time and shift them into a separate folder that is less accessible. Disable the automatic notification option in your email client. Get rid of the distractions around you.

I know some people will out of the way and delete or deactivate their facebook accounts. I think it’s a little drastic and extreme as addressing procrastination is more about being conscious of our actions than counteracting via self-binding methods, but if you feel that’s what’s needed, go for it.

5. Hang out with People Who Inspire You to Take Action

I’m pretty sure if you spend just 10 minutes talking to Steve Jobs or Bill Gates, you’ll be more inspired to act than if you spent the 10 minutes doing nothing. The people we are with influence our behaviors. Of course spending time with Steve Jobs or Bill Gates every day is probably not a feasible method, but the principle applies — The Hidden Power of Every Single Person Around You

Identify the people, friends or colleagues who trigger you – most likely the go-getters and hard workers – and hang out with them more often. Soon you will inculcate their drive and spirit too.

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As a personal development blogger, I “hang out” with inspiring personal development experts by reading their blogs and corresponding with them regularly via email and social media. It’s communication via new media and it works all the same.

6. Get a Buddy

Having a companion makes the whole process much more fun. Ideally, your buddy should be someone who has his/her own set of goals. Both of you will hold each other accountable to your goals and plans. While it’s not necessary for both of you to have the same goals, it’ll be even better if that’s the case, so you can learn from each other.

I have a good friend whom I talk to regularly, and we always ask each other about our goals and progress in achieving those goals. Needless to say, it spurs us to keep taking action.

7. Tell Others About Your Goals

This serves the same function as #6, on a larger scale. Tell all your friends, colleagues, acquaintances and family about your projects. Now whenever you see them, they are bound to ask you about your status on those projects.

For example, sometimes I announce my projects on The Personal Excellence Blog, Twitter and Facebook, and my readers will ask me about them on an ongoing basis. It’s a great way to keep myself accountable to my plans.

8. Seek out Someone Who Has Already Achieved the Outcome

What is it you want to accomplish here, and who are the people who have accomplished this already? Go seek them out and connect with them. Seeing living proof that your goals are very well achievable if you take action is one of the best triggers for action.

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9. Re-Clarify Your Goals

If you have been procrastinating for an extended period of time, it might reflect a misalignment between what you want and what you are currently doing. Often times, we outgrow our goals as we discover more about ourselves, but we don’t change our goals to reflect that.

Get away from your work (a short vacation will be good, else just a weekend break or staycation will do too) and take some time to regroup yourself. What exactly do you want to achieve? What should you do to get there? What are the steps to take? Does your current work align with that? If not, what can you do about it?

10. Stop Over-Complicating Things

Are you waiting for a perfect time to do this? That maybe now is not the best time because of X, Y, Z reasons? Ditch that thought because there’s never a perfect time. If you keep waiting for one, you are never going to accomplish anything.

Perfectionism is one of the biggest reasons for procrastination. Read more about why perfectionist tendencies can be a bane than a boon: Why Being A Perfectionist May Not Be So Perfect.

11. Get a Grip and Just Do It

At the end, it boils down to taking action. You can do all the strategizing, planning and hypothesizing, but if you don’t take action, nothing’s going to happen. Occasionally, I get readers and clients who keep complaining about their situations but they still refuse to take action at the end of the day.

Reality check:

I have never heard anyone procrastinate their way to success before and I doubt it’s going to change in the near future.  Whatever it is you are procrastinating on, if you want to get it done, you need to get a grip on yourself and do it.

More About Procrastination

Featured photo credit: Malvestida Magazine via unsplash.com

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