8 Ways to Kick Your Sugar Habit
You can't out-run your fork. When making the decision to get in shape, it's also important to look at how your diet may be affecting weight loss. Sugar is one of the most dangerous ingredients we consume, as well as one of the most prevalent. It's also the leading cause of heart disease, diabetes and obesity – the three largest killers in America today. It leads to rapid weight gain, mood swings, blood sugar spikes, and it is incredibly addictive.
Sugar can be found in over 80 percent of the foods we buy in grocery stores, according to the documentary “Fed Up”. Follow these eight steps to better control what goes into your body:
- Eat clean protein for breakfast
Starting your day with a lean, satisfying breakfast is the best way to set yourself up for successful and productive workouts. If you start consuming fruit, sugar cereals and sweetened coffee right away, you'll only crave them more and more as the day goes on. Eggs, lean meats, beans and veggies all make wonderful breakfast foods that will leave you feeling sturdy and strong all day, with energy to burn.
- Fulfill sugar cravings with whole foods
When you crave sugar, your body is asking for one of the following real nutrients: chromium, phosphorus, carbon, sulphur or tryptophan. Some great whole-food alternatives to fill these voids are beans, nuts, legumes, dark green veggies, cauliflower, horseradish and lean proteins such as chicken, fish and wild-caught game hen.
- Avoid anything that is white, or that can be made white
This includes potatoes, rice, cereals, bread, flavored dairy, yogurt, cheese products, processed foods and fast foods. All of these items contain either naturally occurring sugar or added sugar, both of which will shock your system and send your blood sugar levels into a volatile state. Eating foods with a low glycemic index will help you avoid mood swings, energy spikes and energy crashes.
- No syrups, ever
Maple syrup, agave syrup, sugar syrup, brown rice syrup, beet syrup, barley malt syrup… Your body doesn't care what it's called. It's all sugar once it goes in.
- Read labels
Sugar is called a lot of different things on food packages. In addition to “sugar,” also look for high-fructose corn syrup, corn sweetener, evaporated cane juice, fruit juice concentrates, dextrose, lactose, demerara, and more. Check out MyFitnessPal for a complete list of hidden sugars.
- Cook your own food
In Michael Pollan's book Cooked, he explains that restaurant meals can contain a staggering amount of salt and sugar, much more than you would ever use when cooking for yourself or your family. Create grocery lists with the fewest packaged shortcuts possible. Start with fresh, raw ingredients and use spices to create simple, delicious flavors.
- Plan, plan, plan
You may start with the best intentions and be truly committed, but a few stressful or hectic days can derail your entire diet. Make sure you have snacks at home and work to avoid impulse hunger purchases.
- Give yourself a cheat day
Taking a day off is okay. Pick a day and have a sweet treat, but be careful not to overeat. Calories are still calories. Use this as a chance to indulge in something you've missed while cutting sugar out of your diet.
Living a sugar-free life may seem daunting, but with a little knowledge and planning, you can be on your way to a clean, sugar-free body. Just remember: be aware, read labels, and plan ahead.
One of the easiest ways to stay on track is to have a few go-to meals for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and keep eating the same few meals over and over. This will help make planning easier, cut down on grocery budgets, and make it easy to fuel your body for your workouts.