Celebrations and holiday seasons often result in people consuming too much sugar, processed foods and not enough healthy whole foods. Somehow, we’ve come to equate celebrations with indulging our sweet tooth by eating excess desserts and drinking lots of sugary drinks. However, whilst indulging on occasion is totally normal, ensuring you only consume sugar in moderation is key.
When looking to cut back on sugar, some people find they prefer to have a complete sugar detox, whilst others look to gradually reduce their sugar consumption. Whatever your preference, we've shared our top tips when it comes to reducing your sugar intake in 2023.
7 easy steps to cutting back on sugar & enjoying a healthy diet
1. Visualize the sugar in your fruit juice and other sugary beverages
A great tip to manage the amount of sugar in your diet is to visualize how much sugar is hiding in your cup.
This is true of all beverages – even the natural sugars in fruit juice impact your sugar intake! Even though fruit juices are perceived to be great for a healthy diet, fruit juices can often have 7 to 10 teaspoons of natural sugar per serving. Unsurprisingly, sugar-filled energy drinks and sports drinks can be just as bad. Likewise, drinks consumed over the holiday period such as eggnog, can have as many as 5 teaspoons of sugar per serving. It’s no surprise that alcohol can be just as bad, as this drink is laden with sugar and empty calories.
The problem with beverages is that because they're liquids, many people forget that they count towards their daily sugar intake, so they don’t realise the added sugar they’re consuming.
So, the next time you’re choosing between drinks, visualize how much a cup would fill with sugar if you chose a certain drink. Doing this should really help you to manage the amount of added sugar you’re consuming in one easy step.
2. Check food labels to look for added sugar
When you’re choosing foods in the grocery store, take a good look at the food labels to see the added sugars in the food before putting them in your basket. There are lots of hidden sugars in many perceived healthy foods such as dried fruit, as well as in stereotypically perceived unhealthy foods such as sugary cereal.
However, knowing which foods you should consume to limit your sugar intake isn’t always clear cut. For instance, whilst brown rice has a slightly higher sugar content than white rice, it actually increases blood sugar levels slower than white rice. So, it’s important that you always do your research first before deciding.
Another way to prevent yourself from consuming too much sugar is to keep yourself well hydrated. Dehydration can lead to higher sugar cravings to get an energy boost, which can cause weight gain due to the excess calories consumed by eating sugary processed foods.
Instead, if you’re craving sugar, try drinking water or low or no-sugar drinks. Water is also renowned to have health benefits, so drinking plenty of it will help you reduce your craving for sugar and will put you in good health generally too.
4. Reduce your sugar intake by keeping food out of sight
You’ve most likely heard the phrase ‘out of sight, out of mind’ right? Well, this same saying can be applied when you’re looking to manage the amount of sugar you consume too.
For instance, always give yourself the easiest access to sugar-free healthy foods rather than the sweet foods throughout the day when you’re craving something sugary. If you do occasionally buy less healthy treats, make it harder for yourself to get them. Maybe stack them above the fridge where you need a chair to reach, or even better in the basement where you won’t see them often. At the very least, it’ll require a few extra steps to get them which never hurts!
Another tip is if you host guests for a celebration, send them home with leftovers so you don’t overindulge in foods high in added sugar.
5. Chew food to help manage your intake of sugar
When you stack your plate with food, eat mindfully and slowly by following a simple tip – chew longer. Did you know that it is recommended that on average, we chew our food 32 times, and for tougher options like steak and nuts up to 40 times? Chewing more mindfully will help you to concentrate on the food you’re eating, the way it tastes, and will make it easier for your body to digest it too.
Likewise, eating mindfully may help you to not rush off after you finished your plate to grab sugary snacks. Taking a break after you finish your meal will give your body time to signal fullness to your brain, meaning that you may be less likely to reach for sugar unnecessarily.
6. Move your body
If you can’t resist and satisfy your sweet tooth by eating sugary foods then don’t fret, it happens! The best way to overcome this is exercise and move your body to utilize the energy.
We all know how great movement is for your mind and for weight loss to help burn fat, so don’t mentally beat yourself up if you do give into your food cravings, just make sure you do a bit of movement. Perhaps move around the kitchen and help clean up the dishes, take the dog for a walk, or even have a dance party in your living area. Any of these options are significantly better than being sedentary, as they allow your body to incorporate gentle movement into your routine.
7. Enjoy your food!
If you're trying to reduce your sugar consumption to lose weight or just to manage a healthy diet, remember that sometimes you will fall off the bandwagon. However, when you do, it's key to remind yourself that food in general should be thought of as essential nourishment and not evoke feelings of guilt or stress.
If you do occasionally overindulge, simply give yourself an opportunity to eat healthier in your next meal – it’s all about balance and following a wholesome diet that’s sustainable. We hope that you’ll be kind to yourself first, let go of the judgment, and find those moments of light and joy.
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