We’ve all heard the adages crack is whack and dope is a joke, but you might still be subconsciously seeking out an addictive and unhealthy substance three times a day. That’s right, there is a good chance you are riding a sugar high all day, from every meal – and you may not even be aware of it.
Don’t worry, you’re not the only one who’s high. About a quarter of the caloric intake of everyone in America comes from sugar – whether it’s in that morning muffin, sports drink or even the cold cuts you put on your sandwich. It can be hard to cut out sugar, especially when it’s so pervasive, but there are a couple of tricks that could help you kick the habit.
Do your research
Knowledge is power in many situations, but when you are trying to quit something that is bad for you, it can be particularly persuasive. To get started, think of sugar this way – it is chock-a-block full of calories, but offers you little to no nutrition. It’s the epitome of empty calories, and contains lots of them. Plus, research has shown that eating too much sugar can actually make you more hungry instead of satisfying your hunger. It has also been proven to be addictive.
Don’t take any shortcuts
Nothing good in life is easy, and the same is true for kicking your sugar habit. There are all kinds of artificial sweeteners out there that make you feel like you can have the best of both worlds – super sweetness without the calories. Diet sodas and Splenda packets may not make you gain weight, but they have the same appetite-stoking effect that sugar does. Plus, they often taste even sweeter than real sugar, so when you do have to opt for the real stuff, you’ll probably need more and more. Stevia is a fantastic all-natural alternative.
Confront your dealers
Find out how much sugar you actually eat. Sugar has many aliases, so take a moment to examine some ingredients lists of your favorite foods, and keep an eye out for glucose, fructose, dextrose and more. In fact, there are more than 100 pseudonyms for sugar, making it easy to disguise in your favorite foods. If you’re not sure what something is, but you’re eating a lot of it, do a quick Google search to find out what you’re putting into your body.
Take it slow
Going cold turkey is a sticky sweet recipe for disaster. Instead, tackle the worst sources of sugar first, and do it gradually.
Think about that candy dish at work or the extra pump of vanilla in your Starbucks drink. Try having this source of sugar once every other day, then once a week, until you stop eating it altogether. You might find you don’t even crave it anymore.
Replace good for bad
When you get a sugar craving, reach for a super-sweet fruit like an orange, apple or handful of berries instead. These will satisfy your sweet tooth but give you antioxidants and fiber to keep you full, not hungry.
It can also be easy to cut out sugar if you eat only real, whole foods, not overly processed, packaged food. Instead of snacking on a package of cheese and crackers, for instance, choose some homemade granola and organic yogurt.
Drinking more water is another way to curb your cravings. Many times, we mistake thirst for hunger, causing us to eat more than we need. When you feel a craving, drink a glass of water. If you still need a fix after 10 minutes, munch on some fruit or even raw nuts for a sugar-free filling snack.
Get prepared for a rough first couple days. You might feel cranky and irritable, but by day five, you may just feel like a whole new sugar-free person.