Giving up sugar is tricky business. The most important thing to keep in mind is that Sugar is addictive and if you are someone who eats "normally" and eats "healthy" food, you are most likely addicted to sugar, EVEN IF you don't consume "excess" sugar or consume products that are commonly deemed "unhealthy"!
Here are some things that may help you on your 'quitting sugar' journey!
1. Don't go cold turkey right off the back of a high-sugar / high-carb diet.
Sugar is a very hard beast to kick. The fact that it is in everything makes it near on impossible to avoid if your are not extremely diligent! What's worse is that the slightest taste can get your body craving again. The 'sucky' thing here is that the cravings are almost subconscious and masked as hunger, with a distinct desire to eat a food that will get you a sugar hit! It doesn't even have to be sweet! A sandwich can be your sugar craving! Nuts hey?
Aside from the cravings, if you go cold turkey you will likely experience tiredness, moodiness, irritability, headaches, restlessness, nausea and have an overall crap time of life for a 3-6 days! All of these things combined with cravings make going cold turkey extremely hard to pull off.
The best strategy is to take yourself off of sugar gradually by supplementing your lite and fat free foods with full fat foods, increasing your 'good fat' intake whilst decreasing the amount of sugar you consume in food.
Fat is not the enemy, it will make you feel more full for longer and give you sustained energy that will not spike your blood sugar levels and make you less likely to snack when you really don't need to.
2. Be wary of hidden sugars.
Just because something doesn't taste sweet doesn't mean that it doesn't contain sugar. Always check the labels on your food. Did you know that even bacon often contains sugar?! That's crazy right? It's supposed to be a savoury meat and yet it usually has sugar added! We are so desensitised to sugar that we don't even notice it on our savoury food!
Food companies are aware that people are now looking to avoid foods with sugar, so sugar is frequently listed under different names. There are over 40 names that sugar can be listed under.
If in doubt, you can always ask google what the Glycemic Load (GL) of a food is. You will soon get a feel for how much is good and how much is not so good.
3. Don't just trust in eating foods that claim to be "sugar-free."
Eating foods that claim TO BE "SUGAR FREE" may not be as good for you as you think if you are trying to kick sugar! The cravings for sugar go into over-drive when you have artificially sweetened foods, which means that you have to fight even harder to avoid sugary stuff later!
Foods that claim to have "no added sugar" often include sugar alcohols, artificial sweeteners, and naturally occurring sugars that, while not being "added", can still make the food quite high in sugar.
If something is intended as a treat, it IS a treat, regardless of claims to be "sugar free" or "healthy".
4. Don't switch your normal fizzy drink for "diet" fizzy or juice.
Diet drinks, while not containing sugar, keep the cravings alive! This means that even though you've had a sugar free drink, you are going to crave sugar even worse afterwards and inevitably fall victim to the cravings!
Sugar free drinks contain sweetners. Many sweetners have been shown to cause gut problems, impotence, cancer and a host of other nasty things, so it's best to steer clear.
Switching to juices is also no good as the juices often contain just as much sugar as the regular fizzy drinks.
If you want to drink or quench thirst, HAVE WATER! If you want some nutrients from fruit, eat a small piece of fruit! But don't go down the path of extracting the sugar from 2-5 pieces of fruit in order to make a fruit juice!
You'll miss out on all the fiber and good stuff whilst consuming only the sugary nasty stuff!
5. Be wary of foods labeled "lite" or "fat-free."
Fat Vs Sugar! When the food industry chose to pick FAT as the villain with regards to causes of obesity, heart disease, Type II Diabetes, Fatty Liver and a host of other nutrition related health problems, we had a massive push to go Fat FREE!
Fat free has since been promoted and advertised as "healthy" and "better for you".
After all it totally makes sense that if you don't eat fat ,you won't get fat. It also totally makes sense that world is flat, otherwise, how would we be able to stand on it?
We now know that FAT is not the villain it has been made out to be and sugar is the real killer!
Most times when the Fat is removed, sugar is put in its place. Choosing lite foods that have had the fat removed is rarely the right choice! Next time you reach for the Lite Yogurt, reconsider your decision and go with the full fat, natural yogurt without preservatives!
6 Over-Consuming Fruit.
Many people think that eating fruit rather than chocolates and sweets means they are being good. This may not be the case as fruits contain fructose and some of them can contain extremely high doses! If you consume too much fructose, it gets converted and packaged as fat in your body, which is what you don't want!. Treat fruit like a TREAT, because it is sweet! Eating berries are a great way to get your fruits along with a whole host of goodness!