By Gage Hanson
Sugar is everywhere in our modern diets. Soda is filled with it. Sugar coated desserts are offered every dinner. Candy is a common snack. Even Carbohydrates (breads), are sugar in disguise. And unfortunately, sugar is not that healthy for us. Sugar leads to obesity, diabetes and heart disease as well as a rollercoaster of glucose levels that our bodies aren’t naturally prepared to handle. However, as anybody who has tried a no sugar diet can tell you, sugar addiction is a real thing.
Not too long ago in human history, we could only eat sugar when fruit was in season. Sugar wasn’t found in ancient diets. So how do we get back to these low sugar diets? How to stop eating sugar?
First off, you have to figure out what food has sugar in your diet and how you can substitute those items. The obvious is to cut out soda, candy and baked goods. Those are easy enough to find alternatives to. Water, vegetables and low-sugar desserts are alternatives that can be quick, easy and cheap. If prepared right, they can taste as good, if not better than their less-healthy counterparts.
The less obvious sugary foods, bread, condiments, soup, granola bars, etc. are harder to find alternatives for. To substitute noodles, people often eat spaghetti squash. In place of buns you can use lettuce. You can find natural protein bars with minimal sugar.
At the end of the day, it is really about how much you pay attention to the contents of what you are eating and how you can replace that. Get in a habit of keeping track of the amount of sugar you are eating and you will see how quickly it adds up. I personally like to use MyFitnessPal to track what I’m eating. It is good for seeing an overall breakdown of what you’ve eaten, including the amount of sugar, and setting goals for what you want to eat. A simple pen and paper would work just as well though. You can find the amount of sugar in anything on the nutritional guide on the packaging.
After that, it is only a matter of dropping the food items that top your list and replacing the rest with sugar alternatives. You can be as creative as you want. A lot of people on the keto diet craft some delicious foods void of all sugar. Or, you can go on a carnivore diet and stick strictly to steak for every meal. There’s so many no sugar diets out there that give you just as many options as you have with sugar.
The most difficult part of a low sugar diet is keeping it going. Like I mentioned earlier, sugar addiction is very real. A day or two off of sugar is no big deal, but imagine seeing a freshly baked blueberry muffin after not having an ounce of sugar for two weeks? It would be tough to resist. That’s why you have to have something to keep you accountable.
One of the most popular, and probably most effective, techniques at following through with your diet is going on it with someone else. If you have a best friend or significant other on the no sugar diet with you, then you have someone to keep you motivated in return for keeping them motivated.
Another popular technique is to give yourself a reward of some sort. Whether it is putting five dollars in a jar every day you stay away from sugar and then using that money for fun after a year, or using the money you will undoubtedly save after cutting out expensive, unhealthy food from your diet to buy yourself that pair of shoes or jacket you’ve had your eyes on.
A good technique that I’ve always used in fitness and dieting goals is to set realistic, short term goals. Instead of aiming for no sugar for six months, I aim for two weeks. Instead of losing thirty pounds, I aim for ten. Achieving these smaller goals week after week is a lot easier than chasing a huge goal that takes months, if not years, to reach. You will get discouraged. You will think you haven’t accomplished anything. The high of reaching these smaller goals again and again will keep you motivated.
Now, you are successfully on your no sugar diet. Whether to lose weight, fight illness, or simply to eat more natural, you are on the path. It is only a matter of continuing to fight the influences of society.
You will continually be bombarded with chances to fail. Every commercial break will bring and advertisement about the newest sugar-filled food. You will be invited out to eat at restaurants where most of the options are filled with sugar, grease and carbs. The grocery store will look like Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory.
It is only a matter of you building up your mental and physical fortitude. You have to continually tell yourself that you are strong enough to keep going and remind yourself why you’ve started this journey. Whether through some mantra or a daily notification on your phone, you have to keep yourself focused. It will only get easier as time goes on.
And if you cave, don’t think it is the end of the world. And definitely don’t think you have to start all the way back at day one. You just made one mistake. Get back up and keep going. One meal with sugar won’t ruin all the progress you made. If you slip back into eating sugar daily, you will ruin all the progress you made.
Figuring out how to stop eating sugar is easy. Following through with the plan is the hard part. With the plan I’ve given you, plus your own personal strategies, you will be able to cut sugar out of your diet and get healthier than you’ve ever been. Without sugar, you’ll be healthier than most of America.