For most of my life, I’ve had a love affair with sugar. I remember when I was in middle school I would eat a Little Debbie Snack Cakes every afternoon after school. I looked forward to it all day long. Star Crunch was my ultimate favorite. I think I ate my meals in order to have something sweet afterward. Basically, I ate a lot of sugar growing up and in my adult life.
Most people typically don't have a firm grasp of how much sugar we consume on a yearly basis unknowingly. It's been said that the average person consumes more than 40 pounds of sugar in a calendar year. Yikes! Quite alarming when you think of it in pounds, right?
What do you think of when you think of sugar? Sweet desserts such as ice cream, cakes, donuts, candy, and cookies come to mind immediately. But there are tremendous amounts of sugar hiding in everyday things (especially packaged items) we consume, and when we consume them regularly, they add up fast,
Making a few mindful tweaks can make all the difference.
Here are a few of my top favorite ways to keep added sugar out of my life:
Eat fruit to sweeten your life: Please, I beg you, don’t be afraid of fruit. Fruit is there to give us energy, a sweet taste, and many phytonutrients to help our bodies thrive. All ripe fruit is wonderful for you and the perfect processed sugar substitute. It takes no extra time to grab an apple rather than a pre-packaged fruit cup or applesauce. It's just as easy and doesn't contain any of the added sugar the pre-packaged items have. So, choose something fresh from the produce stand instead.
Fiber fills you up and protein gives you power: Fiber-rich foods will fill you up and keep you that way for longer so you’ll be less likely to eat something when you’re not hungry. Protein-packed foods have the same benefit. Remember protein-packed foods are nuts, seeds, legumes, vegetable, and quinoa. Combine both of these for delicious ways to stay satisfied throughout the day, and you’ll be less likely to seek out sugar.
Cut the sugar bombs out of your daily diet: If you’ve put sugar in your coffee every morning for the last ten years, start decreasing the amount until you no longer use it. You can also try kicking the habit on the spot if you’re ready for it. I know, I know Coffee had a tight hold on me for a very long time but you can let it go. I actually use Teeccino as my morning cup of joy. It’s caffeine free and has a sweetness to it so I don’t need sugar.
Be a detective and read food labels before you buy. Is your pantry brimming with pre-packaged, processed foods? Ditch them. It's time to learn to live without these foods and when you do, commit to reading all the labels of every packaged food item you buy from now on. Added sugar is in some of the most unsuspecting places so read every label before putting anything into your grocery cart. If anything you buy has fructose (sugar from fruit-when not in its whole form of the fruit it’s not good for you because it’s processed) or high-fructose corn syrup, do not buy it. It will cause disease, aging, and muddles with hormones.
Water is healing and stops cravings. I’m from the south and sweet tea is a staple at meals but it’s loaded with sugar. If you drink sweet tea or you’re a soda drinker, you can cut out quite a bit of added sugar by ditching your sweetened beverage habit. Sometimes, we think we’re hungry when we’re actually thirsty -- and other times, a stressed day makes us reach for desserts. Whatever the case, a glass of filtered water can solve the problem. Drink a cup and then wait 15 to 20 minutes. The craving will usually be gone but if not, choose a piece of fruit to satisfy the urge. I also like to add one drop of therapeutic grade lemon essential oil to flavor my water.
Trust me, it takes time to get used to life without added sugar in it, but you’ll soon feel better than ever and you’ll look better. You don’t realize how something such as sugar affects you until you delete it out of your lifestyle and then feel and see the difference. Finding the perfect sweet treats that aren't harmful to your health is a powerful way to get past the urges and learn to adapt to your new lifestyle without processed sugar.
If you're really feeling you need something sweet, and we all have those days, a few Paige Hinton approved sweet treats are one square of dark chocolate, 2 to 3 dates and fruit.
Leave a comment below and tell me how do you combat your sweet cravings.