If you are anything like me, you know what it feels like to be a sugar addict. I finally decided to tackle my sugar addiction and devise a plan to reduce my sugar cravings once and for all. I’m sharing the simple things I did to help break my sugar addiction. You can quickly incorporate these into your daily habits to reduce sugar cravings and start feeling your best today!
I have had a lifelong love-hate relationship with sugar that has led to chronic health issues such as headaches, inflammation, and stubborn belly fat. Yet, sugar has been the hardest thing to eliminate from my diet.
I recently began researching how to reduce sugar cravings and found several ways to minimize my sugar intake. Minimizing sugar has helped reduce headaches, lifted my brain fog, and decreased my bloat and belly fat.
How Much is Too Much Sugar
The American Heart Association recommends no more than six teaspoons (25 grams) of added sugar daily for women. Still, the average adult gets closer to 17 teaspoons daily, almost triple the limit for women!
Signs That You are Eating Too Much Sugar
Sugar affects people differently, but research shows it has many adverse effects on the body, from being linked to long-term health issues, such as Alzheimer’s disease and heart disease, to short-term concerns, such as weight gain, acne, and inflammation. Sugar is one of the worst foods in our diet, and I was consuming too much!
Some of the most common adverse symptoms people experience from consuming too much sugar include headaches, acne, chronic fatigue, inflammation, mood swings, carb and sugar cravings, bloat, and belly fat.
My biggest issue with sugar was the vicious carb and sugar cravings cycle, which led to bloat, belly fat, and weight gain. I would always crash after consuming sugar and then look for another sugary treat to pick me back up, only to go through this same cycle over and over. Meanwhile, my poor food choices were causing chronic headaches and weight gain.
How to Reduce Sugar Cravings
The best way to reduce sugar cravings is by taking a slow and steady approach. Pick from the list below and incorporate these new habits into your daily routine. Since implementing these habits, I have experienced fewer headaches, weight loss, and more energy. Because I started slowly and made these changes over time, I didn’t experience severe sugar withdrawals. I also believe this approach creates sustainable habits for the long haul.
1. Use Smaller Portions to Reduce Sugar Cravings
Cold turkey is not the best strategy for reducing sugar, but smaller portions are the way to go. When I tried to eliminate sugar in the past, I ended up giving in to my cravings and binging on excessive amounts of sugar from the deprivation. Start slowly by decreasing portions and swapping added sugars for natural sugar substitutes, such as fruit, puree, or unsweetened applesauce.
2. Take Inventory of Your Sugar Intake
Find out what foods you consume that have the most added sugar. If you find that morning coffee run contributes significant amounts of sugar to your day, try making it an every-other-day habit, making coffee at home, or asking for half the sugar or flavoring. Using an app like MyFitnessPal can help you track how much sugar you’re consuming regularly and help you understand what foods you’re eating with the highest amounts of sugar.
3. Read Nutrition Labels
Sugar is surprisingly in many foods, such as condiments and dressings. Be aware of how much sugar has been added to food. It is also essential to familiarize yourself with the different added sugar names. A few popular names for sugar ingredients include cane sugar, high-fructose corn syrup, dried cane syrup or juice, agave, and any word ending in “-ose.”
4. Replace Your Evening Snack with Flavored Tea
Many flavored teas provide comfort with a rich aroma and taste, such as mint, lemon, or cinnamon. Your options are endless in tea flavors. Try sipping on a variety of hot teas in the evening. The hot liquid gives your stomach the feeling of fullness, and the rich, sweet flavors trick your taste buds into thinking you just enjoyed a sweet treat.
5. Fall in Love with Fresh Fruit
Fresh fruit is naturally sweetened and a healthy way to satisfy your sweet tooth. Fruit contains antioxidants and vitamins that nourish your body, helping fight the inflammation and adverse side effects that added sugars could cause. Steer clear of canned or dried fruits, as many contain a significant amount of added sugars. Just read your labels!
6. Don’t Drink Your Sweets (or Artificial Sugars)
Scale back your consumption of beverages with added sugar and artificial sweetener. If you notice yourself consuming two cans of Diet Coke each day, scale back to one. Instead of eliminating the beverage and feeling deprived, just cut back to half the amount and then each week continue cutting back.
7. Buy Unflavored Foods
Buy unflavored foods and then use whole fruit, fruit puree, unsweetened applesauce, or spices as a flavoring. I began buying whole oats, unflavored Greek yogurt, almond milk, and coffee creamer. I love adding whole, fresh ingredients to these foods, making them tastier and healthier versions of the flavored ones.
8. Stay Hydrated to Reduce Sugar Cravings
Staying hydrated is one of the essential steps in reducing sugar cravings. Often, being dehydrated mimics hunger symptoms, causing us to reach for a snack when we don’t need it. The more water you consume, the more likely you will be hydrated and have less room for sweet snacks. Try infusing your water with fresh fruit, such as lemon or strawberries.
9. Eat Dark Chocolate
Dark chocolate has significantly less sugar and fat than milk chocolate. When choosing dark chocolate, choose one with 70% cocoa or higher and keep your serving size in check.
10. Add Spices to Your Coffee
Try adding rich flavors to your coffee by adding spices, such as vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, or cocoa. A splash of milk or a dairy-free substitute will provide a creamy element and reduce your need for extra sweetness as you work to reduce sugar cravings.
Resources to Help You Reduce Sugar Cravings
That Sugar Film is a documentary that follows Damon Gameau in an experiment documenting the effects of a high-sugar diet on a healthy body. We watch how sugar negatively affects his physical and mental health over thirty days. I highly recommend this film to the entire family.
The 40-Day Sugar Fast by Wendy Speake is a phenomenal book that provides an entirely different perspective on reducing sugar intake. She takes an approach that combines physical detox and spiritual transformation that helps you understand what keeps you running to sugar for comfort.