When we feel stressed or sad, the first thing that pops up in our minds is the tempting sugary food. The pleasure brought by it is just soooo incomparable. From child to adult and to elderly, very few of us really hate the taste of sweetness. We’re born to like sugar.
But we also know how bad it can be when we consume much sugar.
Obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and many more serious health issues are the possible results of consuming too much sugar. All of these increase our risk of dying.
And here’s the shocking fact: the average American consumes 22 teaspoons of sugar daily, which is more than two times the amount suggested by the American Heart Association. Perhaps it’s one of the reasons why obesity rates see startling increase over the past few decades.
It’s time to do a sugar detox before it’s too late.
Not All the Sugars Are Your Friends…
Sugar is everywhere. But it exists in different forms. Some are inevitable while some are not.
If you have ever studied some science in high school, you would know that sugar comes in at least three major forms: simple sugar, double sugar, and carbohydrate. Sometimes they exist in foods naturally: bread, rice, pasta, potatoes, fruit, milk, and so on. So it’s quite impossible to avoid the intake of sugar when carbohydrate makes one of the major staple foods.
Actually, what we should avoid is the added sugar.
Added sugars, or refined sugars, are the sugars added during the manufacture of foods. They are often found in soft drinks, sports drinks, cookies, candies, desserts, ketchup, and salad dressing. These are the culprits of obesity and all the other related health problems.
Let’s see how you can quit the addiction of sugar to take back the control of your health.
1. Quit Soda Drinks (and Other Sweetened Beverages)
Soda, fruit juice, iced tea, energy drinks, smoothies, and many other sugary drinks are the sneaky sources of added sugars. One can of cola contains 39 g of sugar, which is more than 9 teaspoons, and equal to the suggested daily limit of sugar intake for most men.
Diet soda is not a good alternative either. It is associated with health problems like heart diseases. Diet soda drinkers are also more likely to be overweight than regular soda drinkers.
Liquid sugar calories are even worse than the solid ones, as you don’t feel full and you’ll keep drinking more throughout the day.
So quit sugary drinks. Perhaps start by switching to diet soda, or mixing the sugary drinks with water, and then gradually stop drinking all kinds of sugary drinks.
2. Give Up Simple-Carb Sweet Treats
Cookies, muffins, pastries, and other sweet treats have little nutritional value but are dense with added sugars. They mess with our blood glucose level, providing energy that doesn’t last long.
So next time, when you want to have some treats, have some whole grains instead. They’re more complex in structure so it takes longer time to digest. As a result, they’re absorbed more slowly and provide us steady energy.
Or you can go for the non-starchy vegetables such as greens, the broccoli family, mushrooms, onions, tomatoes, eggplant, and so on. You get to eat as much as you want and they can surely help you lose weight.
3. Ease off the Table Sugar
If you’re that kind of person who always adds sugar to your coffee or food, it’s time for you to change the habit. Cut down the amount of sugar or honey you add to your tea or coffee. From 2 teaspoons to 1 teaspoon, and then from 1 to 0.
You may also find substitutes. A slice of orange or some milk will do. Or you can use vanilla powder to add flavor. Order an unsweetened drink and add sweet kick with cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger. These are all the possible ways to make your drink taste sweet without using sugar.
The same goes for French toast or pancake. Skip the sugar or the maple syrup. Gradually, you will find yourself less addicted to sugar.
4. Indulge in More Healthy Fats
The word ‘fats’ sounds scary to many people. But actually, fat doesn’t make people overweight, sugar does. Fat gives you the sense of fullness, balances your blood sugar and serves as the energy fuel. Healthy fats can be found from food like olive oil, peanut oil, nuts, seeds, and avocados.
Remember, when we say healthy fats, this means there’re unhealthy fats. They are the saturated fats and trans fats. Food with saturated fats includes fatty cuts of beef, pork, and lamb, high fat dairy foods (whole milk, butter, cheese, ice cream), and tropical oils (coconut oil, palm oil), while fried foods, margarine, processed snack foods (crackers, microwave popcorn) contains trans fat. Don’t mix them up with those healthy fats.
5. Have More Lean Protein
Protein is a very important element for our body. Many structures in our body are made up of protein. It is the key to balance blood sugar and insulin and cut cravings. You may start your day with a high protein breakfast and continue your day with other foods with a high composition of protein in every meal. Forget about the traditional starch and sugar combo breakfast. Go for nuts, seeds, eggs, fish, chicken or grass-fed meat.
6. Buy Foods Labeled ‘Unsweetened’
When you’re in a grocery store doing some shopping, buy foods labeled ‘no added sugar’ or ‘unsweetened’. Some manufacturers now produce unsweetened versions of some common foods and they’re easily found in most grocery stores. You can find unsweetened non-dairy milk like almond and soy, nut butters (those made with only nuts and salt), applesauce, oatmeal, and canned fruit easily.
7. Suss Out Sugary Restaurant Foods
Eating out is not always a healthy choice. Many types of cuisines we find delicious are in fact smothered in sauces or coatings with added sugar. Glazes, condiments, and even pasta sauces are often loaded with sugar. The crust of a pizza is also likely to pack hidden sugar.
So be aware of what you’re eating in restaurants. Avoid those foods with brown sugar, corn syrup, and all the other ways to say ‘sugar’. The best way is to cook at home so that you can have delicious healthy foods in a cheap way.
8. Have a Fruit-based Dessert
If you can’t resist your strong craving for dessert, go for a fruit-based dessert. Fruit contains fructose, which is a kind of natural sugar and gives you the similar taste of sweet. That way, at least you can enjoy the sweetness without doing too much harm to your body.
Instead of desserts like macaron and tiramisu, you can choose to have something like apple pie or blueberry cheese cake. But remember, it’s always better to say NO to dessert!
9. Get Enough Sleep
A good health is not only about diet but also every other aspect of your lifestyle. Insufficient sleep drives sugar and carb cravings by affecting your appetite hormones. Studies show that people who sleep for just two hours a day suffer from a rise in hunger hormones and a decrease in appetite-suppressants. Your body is simple. If you sleep less, you need more energy so you need to eat more. If you sleep less than 8 hours per day, get more sleep tonight!
Slash Sugar from Your Diet Now
These are all the ways to do a sugar detox effectively. But remember, none of these helps if you lack the determination. Start from the smallest thing to the biggest thing and do it step by step. One day you will find changes on your body!
|||^||Harvard School of Public Health: Added Sugar in the Diet|