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25 Smart Ways to Cut Down On Sugar

Sugar is a wonderful thing for the tongue, but can be a horrible thing for our health. Excess sugar leads to obesity, diabetes, cancer and many other diseases and illnesses. Most of us realize at some point that we ought to curb our appetite for sugar. But sugar is addictive, so it's not easy to change your sugar habits. Here are 25 golden rules to leading a low-sugar lifestyle.
cutting down on sugar consumption

1. Reduce the amount of sugar SLOWLY

Some people try to cut sugar out of their lives immediately, going cold turkey. What they forget is that sugar is an addictive substance, a VERY addictive substance. Once your body gets used to it, quitting all at once can be a horrible experience, leading to bad emotional states, anxiety and even physical symptoms such as fatigue and sweats. Studies also show that quitting sugar all at once leads to a higher risk of returning to full time consumption. It's healthier and better to slowly decrease your intake over a couple of weeks time.

2. Consume whole foods

Whole foods don't contain added sugar. So why not stick to fruits, vegetables and meat products in their original condition, and reap the benefits?

3. Prepare your own meals

Get out that cookbook and start cooking for yourself. That way you know exactly how much sugar is in your meal, and you get no surprises from food places that add a little sugar "for taste".

4. Become suspicious of 'sugar free' labels

So it doesn't have sugar. But it DOES have artificial sweeteners that, besides increasing your risk of certain cancers, trick your body into thinking glucose is being delivered. When it fails to, you will feel hungrier, and look for something sweet again. So watch out for those "no sugar" labels.

5. "Fat-Free" is just as bad

Yes, it's fat-free, but it usually contains added sugar or sweeteners, to make up for the lesser flavor of foods with less fat.

6. It's time to know your labels

All foods carry labels. We know it's no fun trying to understand them, but once you read a few you'll see they repeat themselves, and you can easily start to identify those that have the most natural ingredients and less artificial ingredients, as well as the preparation techniques that use no added sugars or sweeteners. Compare the labels you read to labels of products you KNOW are bad for you, find what is similar and what is different to know you've made the right choice.

cutting down on sugar consumption

7. No sodas, no non-natural juices

Almost all of these drinks are pretty much sugar water. So if you're serious about getting your sugar intake way down, avoid these like the plague.

8. That includes diet sodas, too

As we've said before, artificial sweeteners will just make your body crave more sugar. Diet sodas are full of those, and will enlarge your sweet tooth. Sorry to say, diet sodas should be avoided just like regular sodas.

9. Start your days with a good amount of protein

Eggs, protein shake, yogurt - try to start your day with a breakfast that contains food products such as these. They will keep your blood sugar levels normal and limit your cravings for sweets. An added benefit is that they will also help control your metabolism for the rest of your day.

10. Don't forget your meals - no skipping

We all forgo a lunch or dinner here and there. Sometimes we're busy, sometimes just too tired to feel like eating. But it backfires, because we get more cravings for sweets this way, and we may easily turn to sugar to plug that hole.

11. Emergency snacks are an important resource

Nutrition experts such as Dr. Mark Hyman recommend having an emergency snack-pack close to you at all times. So when you get that craving, you have something immediate to reach out to, such as fresh fruit, nuts, jerky or whole foods. This way you're not tempted to go out to the vending machine closest to you and succumb to your sweet tooth.

12. Drink, and drink a lot

It may not seem connected, but when we're thirsty, our body increases our cravings for food and sweets. Keep yourself hydrated and those cravings will subside.

cutting down on sugar consumption

13. Choose fruits

Fresh fruits will hydrate you, supply you with much needed fiber and help you metabolize fructose, a much better way to answer the call of your sweet cravings than any processed food.

14. But even more than fruit - go for vegetables and nuts

Fruit is very healthy, but also sweet, and that sweetness will keep your addiction to sugar in existence. Limit yourself to a small amount of fruit a day (1-2). Veggies, nuts and seeds as the best types of snacks.

15. There are healthy fats around, keep them close by

Healthy fats, like those found in extra virgin olive oil, avocados, nuts and seeds, will get you to a place where you feel full, have lots of energy, and enjoy a balanced blood-sugar level.

cutting down on sugar consumption

16. Everything has a natural substitute - find it

White sugar can be replaced with honey or molasses (keep the amounts small). These provide great flavor with a lot more nutrients, and will keep your sugar intake lower.

17. Spice up your life

Another great way of satisfying your craving for something sweet is using spices such as nutmeg, cinnamon, paprika, cardamom and many others that have a sweetness to them without adding sugar.

18. Try a week of black coffee

I know not everyone enjoys black coffee, but it just takes a little getting used to. Take a 7 day trial and drink only black coffee. Studies have shown it can reduce the risk of diabetes as well as certain types of cancer, and is a real metabolism booster. Drink it slowly and absorb the rich taste and experience. You don't need sugar to enjoy that special aroma.

19. Like chocolate? Join the dark side

Dark chocolate contains A LOT less sugar than its milky counterpart, and can be very good for you.

cutting down on sugar consumption

20. Don't do it alone

Fighting your sugar craving is so much better when you're not doing it alone. Maybe you have a friend, a loved one or a significant other who can also use a sugar reduction? Most of us do. Pair up and give each other much needed support. Cook together and talk to each other when the cravings get really bad. It can be a huge comfort and can stop you before making that craving come true.

21. Know the other names of sugar

When looking for sugar content, sometimes you may miss its other names. Names like "Black strap molasses", "Agave Nectar", "Dried oat syrup" or even "Evaporated cane juice". These aren't EXACTLY sugars, but your body still treats them the same. So be on the lookout, and keep reading those labels!

22. Never assume a product or food is devoid of sugar

You wouldn't think there is sugar in a salad, right? Or in a sauce or meat glaze? But sometimes there are. If you're at a restaurant, ask your waiter about sugar content. If you're buying a product, once again - check the label. Never assume something is sugar free just because it doesn't make sense for it to have sugar. It gets added to a surprising amount of foods.

23. The glycemic index is not the final answer

The glycemic index scale measures glucose, but not fructose. Sugars are metabolized differently and have different effects on our body, so the GI scale is not enough to judge.

cutting down on sugar consumption

24. Sleep, and sleep well

When we don't get enough sleep (or enough quality sleep), we fall behind on our energy needs, and will often look for something to fill that energy hole - such as sugar, sugary coffee or tea etc. Get 7-8 hours of good sleep a night to avoid empowering your cravings.

25. Track your emotions

A lot of the time we reach out to that sugary goodness to compensate for a bad emotional state, and not because we're truly hungry. Notice how you are feeling when cravings strike. Knowing is half the battle, and when you're aware of your emotional state, you can counter that craving with something that makes you happy or brings you joy that isn't sugary food.

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