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Read This and You’ll Find Healthier Ways to Satisfy That Sweet Tooth of Yours!

Read This and You’ll Find Healthier Ways to Satisfy That Sweet Tooth of Yours!

We have all been there: you have just started a diet in an attempt to lose weight and feel better, but it seems as soon as you decide to eat less sugar and more vegetables, someone walks by you with a gourmet cupcake or a sugary coffee drink. All at once, your willpower is gone and you give in to the temptation.

If this has happened to you, then you have probably experienced the attitude of: I’ll do better tomorrow! But did you? Probably not. And that is largely because sugar is addicting.

Not figuratively. Literally. Sugar is classified as an addictive substance, and it contributes to thousands of deaths every year[1]. Before we learn how to avoid sugar, let’s be clear about something: there are good sugars and there are bad sugars.

Bad sugars are what your body does not require in order to be healthy. Good sugars are necessary and contribute to a healthy body. These are found in fruits and milk. But remember, you don’t need to eat a ton of natural sugar to be “healthy.” More on that later.

Why do we crave sugar?

For the most part, the intense desire for sugar is caused by all sorts of things happening in your body, and rarely do those things involve a need.

1. You are hungry.

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I know, I know. Duh. But I don’t mean you crave sugar because you’re hungry and a cupcake would really hit the spot. I mean your body is hungry and is desperate for you to feed it something[2]! So what does it do? Your stomach alerts your brain that you need something to fuel you and you need it to be processed quickly. That usually means you crave carbs/sugars. After all, when your stomach is growling loudly enough for the people next door to hear, the last thing you feel like doing is preparing a gourmet salad.

2. We are hard-wired to ingest sugar.

Our oldest ancestors survived by eating sugary fruits[3]. This was an ideal snack because it provided energy but also helped to store fat. This was handy when it came time to go on very long hunting excursions for their next meal.

But now-a-days, we aren’t hunting for our food, and we don’t need to stay warm in our caves. Yet we are still holding on to the craving for sugar.

3. You ate too much salt.

This is the culprit for me, personally. When you dine out or eat packaged foods, you’re ingesting a ton of sodium. For me, I crave sugar every time I eat chips and salsa or tacos/burritos. For a long time I thought it was just a quirk that after eating Mexican food I wanted ice cream or cookies, but the truth was that my body was reacting to all the sodium. The saltier the food, the bigger your sweet tooth becomes. This goes back to our ancient drive to find sugar; our ancestors had to have variety in their diet, and now our bodies crave variety in the form of tastes and textures[4].

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And too much sugar is really, really bad.

Sure, if we eat a bowl of ice cream for every meal we are going to gain weight, but too much sugar is actually a lot more dangerous than you may realize. Remember earlier when I mentioned sugar caused thousands of deaths? Well, it’s true.

People whose dietary calories come from 25% sugar have a higher risk of dying from cardiovascular diseases. In 2010, more than 133,000 deaths from diabetes, 45,000 deaths from cardiovascular diseases…were reported in more than 50 countries. All of these diseases were related to sugar intake[5].

As if death wasn’t a big enough consequence of eating too much sugar, it can also have a really detrimental impact on your waist line. Because the body interprets a lack of sugar as a deficiency, our bodies crave sugar and fat. Often times though, those foods our cravings lead us to eat are filled with empty calories and very little nutrition, leaving us hungry and unfulfilled. This causes even more cravings! Talk about a vicious cycle.

So how can you combat sugar cravings and make healthier choices?

As I’m driving home from work, if I’m not listening to a podcast, I listen to local radio. And it never fails: I always hear an advertisement for some local company promising they know the secret to losing weight, to cutting out sugar, to looking great. And while that may sound awesome, it usually comes with a price tag and a lot of disclaimers. The tips below are free, healthy and don’t require any kind of contract.

Here’s how you can fight your cravings in an instant.

1. Chew gum, especially sugar-free ones!

I know it seems like a lame recommendation, but I’m telling you, this is my go-to! Research has proven that chewing gum can reduce food cravings. I’m no scientist, but to me it makes a lot of sense; a lot of times when you start craving junk food, it’s because you’re bored. Chewing gum is a great way to distract yourself while also feeling like you’re doing something[6].

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2. Take a stroll down the street.

This is a win-win. You’re getting a little exercise, but you’re also avoiding those frustrating cravings. It’s all about a scenery change to get your mind off how bad you want the muffin your favorite coffee shop just posted on Instagram.

3. Grab a green apple or any fruits you like to have a sweet bite.

Fruit is full of healthy sugars (but that doesn’t mean you should eat a ton of fruit. Sugar is still sugar at the end of the day!). Keep a granny smith apple handy at home/school/work and eat that when you feel a sugar craving coming on. You get a little sweetness, but you also get fiber and vitamins that a cookie wouldn’t provide.

You also need to think about cutting your sugar intake in the long run.

1. Compromise by combining sugar with healthy food.

Combining foods can be a great way to slowly acclimate to cutting more and more sugar out of your diet. For instance, if you love chocolate, snack on some dark chocolate covered almonds. You’ll get your sugar fix, but you also added a healthy food. Progress! The end goal is to stop that sugar craving entirely, so finding ways to take baby steps toward that goal is helpful.

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2. Substitute your sugar cravings with something healthy (in a sneaky way).

When I crave sugar, I crave the sweet smell and taste. I usually have no idea what the actual sugar content amount is. If I get a scone from the cafe down the street, it doesn’t include nutrition facts. A great way to get that sugary fix without all the sugar is to go for something naturally sweet out of habit. I like to get something sweet almost every day around 2:00. Why? That seems to be when I hit my metaphorical wall. The sugar gets me through the end of the day. But instead, if I went for a naturally sweet tea like apple spice or vanilla almond (calorie free and all-natural), I would get the mental fix that I feel sugar provides, without the guilt and fat!

3. Control your salty servings as well.

When trying to change your long-term eating habits, portion control is key. Figure out what is best for you, but start out with a lean protein, a healthy fat (think: avocados, olive or coconut oil), big serving of vegetables. Notice what’s missing? Carbs. This is because carbs turn into sugar and that’s what we are trying to avoid!

4. Go online and find recipes to make your own healthy snacks.

If you really feel like you have to feel like you’re enjoying a sweet snack, consult Pinterest for healthy recipe options that use natural maple syrup, honey, and other natural sweeteners. This involves pre-planning and effort, but if you make it a habit to keep healthy options on hand, it will never feel overwhelming[7].

5. Treat yourself every while and then and indulge thoughtfully.

Lastly, as you begin to cut sugar out of your every day life, you will inevitably experience moments of intense weakness in which you have to have something sweet or you will explode. When those times happen, if you really can’t talk yourself out of them, follow Susan Moores, MS, RD and registered dietitian’s advice and indulge. The catch? choose quality, not quantity. Rather than sitting down with a whole case of oreos, pick a decadent treat and savor every single bite.

Reference

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Heather Poole

Heather shares about everyday lifestyle tips on Lifehack.

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Last Updated on September 18, 2020

7 Simple Rules to Live by to Get in Shape in Two Weeks

7 Simple Rules to Live by to Get in Shape in Two Weeks

Learning how to get in shape and set goals is important if you’re looking to live a healthier lifestyle and get closer to your goal weight. While this does require changes to your daily routine, you’ll find that you are able to look and feel better in only two weeks.

Over the years, I’ve learned a lot about what it takes to get in shape. Although anyone can cover the basics (eat right and exercise), there are some things that I could only learn through trial and error. Let’s cover some of the most important points for how to get in shape in two weeks.

1. Exercise Daily

It is far easier to make exercise a habit if it is a daily one. If you aren’t exercising at all, I recommend starting by exercising a half hour every day. When you only exercise a couple times per week, it is much easier to turn one day off into three days off, a week off, or a month off.

If you are already used to exercising, switching to three or four times a week to fit your schedule may be preferable, but it is a lot harder to maintain a workout program you don’t do every day.

Be careful to not repeat the same exercise routine each day. If you do an intense ab workout one day, try switching it up to general cardio the next. You can also squeeze in a day of light walking to break up the intensity.

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If you’re a morning person, check out these morning exercises that will start your day off right.

2. Duration Doesn’t Substitute for Intensity

Once you get into the habit of regular exercise, where do you go if you still aren’t reaching your goals? Most people will solve the problem by exercising for longer periods of time, turning forty-minute workouts into two hour stretches. Not only does this drain your time, but it doesn’t work particularly well.

One study shows that “exercising for a whole hour instead of a half does not provide any additional loss in either body weight or fat”[1].

This is great news for both your schedule and your levels of motivation. You’ll likely find it much easier to exercise for 30 minutes a day instead of an hour. In those 30 minutes, do your best to up the intensity to your appropriate edge to get the most out of the time.

3. Acknowledge Your Limits

Many people get frustrated when they plateau in their weight loss or muscle gaining goals as they’re learning how to get in shape. Everyone has an equilibrium and genetic set point where their body wants to remain. This doesn’t mean that you can’t achieve your fitness goals, but don’t be too hard on yourself if you are struggling to lose weight or put on muscle.

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Acknowledging a set point doesn’t mean giving up, but it does mean realizing the obstacles you face.

Expect to hit a plateau in your own fitness results[2]. When you expect a plateau, you can manage around it so you can continue your progress at a more realistic rate. When expectations meet reality, you can avoid dietary crashes.

4. Eat Healthy, Not Just Food That Looks Healthy

Know what you eat. Don’t fuss over minutia like whether you’re getting enough Omega 3’s or tryptophan, but be aware of the big things. Look at the foods you eat regularly and figure out whether they are healthy or not. Don’t get fooled by the deceptively healthy snacks just pretending to be good for you.

The basic nutritional advice includes:

  • Eat unprocessed foods
  • Eat more veggies
  • Use meat as a side dish, not a main course
  • Eat whole grains, not refined grains[3]

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Eat whole grains when you want to learn how to get in shape.

    5. Watch Out for Travel

    Don’t let a four-day holiday interfere with your attempts when you’re learning how to get in shape. I don’t mean that you need to follow your diet and exercise plan without any excursion, but when you are in the first few weeks, still forming habits, be careful that a week long break doesn’t terminate your progress.

    This is also true of schedule changes that leave you suddenly busy or make it difficult to exercise. Have a backup plan so you can be consistent, at least for the first month when you are forming habits.

    If travel is on your schedule and can’t be avoided, make an exercise plan before you go[4], and make sure to pack exercise clothes and an exercise mat as motivation to keep you on track.

    6. Start Slow

    Ever start an exercise plan by running ten miles and then puking your guts out? Maybe you aren’t that extreme, but burnout is common early on when learning how to get in shape. You have a lifetime to be healthy, so don’t try to go from couch potato to athletic superstar in a week.

    If you are starting a running regime, for example, run less than you can to start. Starting strength training? Work with less weight than you could theoretically lift. Increasing intensity and pushing yourself can come later when your body becomes comfortable with regular exercise.

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    7. Be Careful When Choosing a Workout Partner

    Should you have a workout partner? That depends. Workout partners can help you stay motivated and make exercising more fun. But they can also stop you from reaching your goals.

    My suggestion would be to have a workout partner, but when you start to plateau (either in physical ability, weight loss/gain, or overall health) and you haven’t reached your goals, consider mixing things up a bit.

    If you plateau, you may need to make changes to continue improving. In this case it’s important to talk to your workout partner about the changes you want to make, and if they don’t seem motivated to continue, offer a thirty day break where you both try different activities.

    I notice that guys working out together tend to match strength after a brief adjustment phase. Even if both are trying to improve, something seems to stall improvement once they reach a certain point. I found that I was able to lift as much as 30-50% more after taking a short break from my regular workout partner.

    Final Thoughts

    Learning how to get in shape in as little as two weeks sounds daunting, but if you’re motivated and have the time and energy to devote to it, it’s certainly possible.

    Find an exercise routine that works for you, eat healthy, drink lots of water, and watch as the transformation begins.

    More Tips on Getting in Shape

    Featured photo credit: Alexander Redl via unsplash.com

    Reference

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