This entry was originally posted on our health coaching website, The Healthy Row, on September 15, 2017.
We all know that sugar is one of the most harmful ingredients we can give our bodies. With the countless methods and diets there are to help us lose weight or fight illnesses, they all have a common enemy, and that is sugar.
Haven’t you experienced trying to give it up after passing periods of binging on food we feel guilty of? I have! And in the past, I found it so difficult just because I used to be the type of person who just couldn’t resist anything sweet. Dessert was my favorite part any meal, so you can just imagine how the thought of quitting sugar felt almost impossible.
Sugar is an exceptionally destructive substance that we eat way too much of. It’s the food that many illnesses such as cancers, diabetes and heart diseases thrive on. But when faced with this fact, and the many studies that prove it, we consume it anyway, and for a variety of reasons.
Sugar is in almost every food we find in supermarkets and restaurants, and it requires some discipline to consume less of it and be more conscious of ways to avoid it. I’m not going to lie and say that it’s easy. Oh, It’s definitely a challenge, especially if you’re just starting. But, like in everything we do, things just get easier with consistent practice.
So, have patience. And, instead of focusing on the reasons why sugar is bad for you, I believe that focusing on ways to help you avoid it would be much more effective, and it would give you a much better chance of cutting it out of your life for good.
1. Stop buying processed foods
When I go to the supermarket, most of my time is spent roaming the outer aisles where the fresh whole foods are. The aisles in the middle are reserved for items that are boxed, bagged and canned which are filled with a lot of hidden sugars.
Always read labels, and be more mindful to select brands that provide high quality ingredients with the least amount of additives. You don’t need to be an expert in knowing what ingredients are good or bad for you. A good tip which I learned from a friend is to avoid ingredients you can’t pronounce.
Also, avoid processed meats and be mindful of where they’re sourced from. If you are on a plant-based diet, avoid processed vegetable meat as well that are made to replicate animal meat.
2. Choose whole foods
Cutting out sugar doesn’t mean we have to cut out sweets completely. Treat yourself to the natural sweetness of certain fruits and vegetables. Eat them fresh and whole, and don’t drink them. Consume foods that are the closest to their original form, and avoid packaged juices and dehydrated fruits that are almost pure in sugar, and have had their natural soluble fibers almost completely removed.
3. Eat regularly and don’t skip meals
Skipping meals makes our blood sugar levels drop. Our bodies crave for things we’re deficient of, so don’t deprive yourself and eat at least 3 meals a day, and snack with healthy fats and protein in between if you must.
4. Start your day eating more healthy fats and protein, and incorporate them in each meal
Breakfasts with pancakes, waffles and toast give you loads of carbohydrates and sugar that make you want to have more of them the rest of the day. Processed meats, on the other hand, are a huge part of Asian breakfasts, and kids love them, but are linked to a lot of diseases and are generally considered unhealthy due to their chemical contents.
Having breakfasts that instead contain the healthy fats and protein will help you feel full, and will calm your blood sugar levels. Try a smoothie with some fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds, and incorporate a variety of them in every meal.
Sometimes, our cravings really just boil down to thirst. Dehydration make us snack excessively because we don’t get to satisfy the real need of our bodies. When craving certain foods that we know are bad for our bodies, try grabbing a glass of water instead. Wait a couple of minutes, and if you’re still really hungry then, your craving should switch to wanting real food. At that point, it would be a lot easier to make the healthier snack choice.
6. Exercise regularly
Dance, run or do some yoga at least 3 days in a week. An active lifestyle will boost your energy and decrease your need for sugar.
7. Get enough sleep
Our bodies use sugar to fight exhaustion, so avoid getting to that point by ensuring you get the right amount of sleep to reset your body and put your cravings in check. Be more mindful of your natural sleep cycle, and find and reserve the number of hours that’s right for you to feel the most rested and energized to take on each day.
8. Take a multivitamin
Even without our bodies showing any symptoms, we may be deficient of certain nutrients that support our cravings. Get yourself checked by a health professional, get tested for any deficiencies, and take supplements to cover all your bodily needs.
9. Be open to explore emotional attachments to your sugar (and food) cravings
Give yourself some time to reflect and observe certain patterns in your behavior towards sugar and food. Allowing yourself that space could be therapeutic, and could help you gain a deeper understanding of yourself and emotions, and be better equipped to address it.
10. Take small steps and celebrate your small victories
Focus on just one of these steps at a time and create an action plan to start implementing it in your life just week by week. At the end of each week, look back and acknowledge what you have accomplished, and celebrate it! We welcome more of what we’re grateful for. Continuing this simple practice can go a long way.