Most of us know that eating excess sugar can really sabotage an otherwise healthy diet and keep us from achieving our health goals. But knowing this is the easy part. For many people, being able to actually regulate our consumption of sugar is much, much harder.
There are a variety of tools you can use to gain better control and cut back on your sugar intake. Consider one or more of the following methods:
Balance Your Overall Diet: Sometimes cravings for unhealthy foods can stem from an overall unhealthy eating pattern. Focus on eating 3 balanced meals per day and a snack if needed. A balanced meal consists of lean meats, fish, seafood, soy products, whole grains, legumes, fruits, vegetables and nuts or seeds.
Cold Turkey: I recommend this method for those who feel they have a serious lack of control over their sweet cravings. Cutting out added sugars from all sources for 2-3 weeks can help people regain a sense of control. The first few days may be hard and the cravings may be intense, but within a week or two, you should notice a significant decrease in the cravings.
Make It Part of Your Meal Plan: Some people like to plan a sweet treat as a daily indulgence. This is an okay method if you keep it very small (<200 calories). Sometimes 1 chocolate truffle is all you need to feel “treated”. Or, instead of a daily treat, consider planning 1 or 2 dessert night per week. It gives you something to look forward to and makes you consider what is really sounding good to you at that time. This method puts some intentionality behind your choices. Extra Bonus: Works well to deter dessert-focused kids who like to ask for dessert EVERY SINGLE night!
Distraction: “Ride the Wave” (wait 10 minutes to see if craving passes) or find another activity like walking, cleaning, or being productive to distract yourself. Believe it or not, sometimes just brushing your teeth can be so refreshing that you no longer want that unhealthy snack.
Amp-Up the Self-Care: Did you know that making healthy food selections is much harder when you are stressed and tired? This is because the body gives off hormonal signals that can increase our appetite and food cravings. Practice some self-care like getting 7-9 hours of sleep per night, getting at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise per day, and finding appropriate ways to deal with life’s stressors.
Time to Get Busy!
If you feel like reducing your consumption of sugar is a major priority in your life, consider challenging yourself to a 1-month sugar reboot. Consider which method or combination of methods sounds the most reasonable for you and commit! You may be surprised at the control you are able to achieve when you break down old habits.
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