Hooked on added sugars? Me too? I’m a big time sugar lover and given the chance, I’ll always choose sweet over salty. Can you relate?
Approximately 70% of Americans exceed the recommended daily limit of 6 teaspoons of added sugar. Even with the best intensions, it can be super challenging to navigate the sugar ingredient loophole in our food system. Over the past five years, there has been a sea of healthy sweeteners pop up. Like these, “healthy sweeteners” that promise a sweet flavor without the sugar.
Agave nectar, Barley malt, Beet sugar, Blackstrap molasses, Brown rice syrup, Brown sugar, Cane sugar, Coconut sugar, Date sugar/syrup, Dextrose
Evaporated cane juice, Fructose, Corn syrup, Glucose, High fructose corn syrup, Honey, Invert sugar, Malt syrup, Maltodextrin syrup, Maltose, Maple syrup, Molasses, Muscovado, Palm sugar, Rice syrup, Sucrose, Turbinado
However, when you dig a little deeper it becomes clear it is too good to be true. Your body recognizes ALL of these as SUGAR when it comes to digestion and absorption.
Sugar is hidden in a lot of pantry staples marketed towards families under various names that are deemed “healthy” in our snack loving culture.
Think: granola, granola bars, protein bars, popular coffee drinks, smoothies, yogurts, sugary sports drinks, cereals and more! You basically have to be a detective or a professional label reader to get out of the processed food aisle alive.
According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, our biggest source of sugar is sugary drinks. Just by simply pledging against “drinking” your sugar you could make major progress in your quest to reduce sugar at home.
The Negative Impact of Added Sugars
- Disrupts Your Gut Microbiome
Excess sugar fuels harmful bacteria and fungus and can negatively alter the microbes in your gut microbiome. Sugar typically causes yeast overgrowth which can manifest in yeast infection, constipation, brain fog, gut dysbiosis and more.
2. Added Sugar Increases Cravings for MORE Sugar
In a very real sense, we are being set up to desire and consume more and more sugar by the food industry. Your body usually wants more of what you feed it and sugar is no exception. Eating more added sugar makes your taste buds and gut bacteria crave even more sugar, creating a vicious cycle of feeling like you are always craving sugar. (Ugh!)
3. Sugar Spikes Your Blood Sugar & Increases Risk of Type 2 Diabetes
After you consume sugar, it enters the bloodstream, quickly increasing blood glucose levels and the fat storing hormone, insulin.
Tips for Decreasing Sugar Intake
- Read the Ingredient List-–ALWAYS!
Remember that anything that ends in-ose or says syrup is sugar.
- Retrain your taste buds to reduce sugar cravings!!
Try adding in a variety of flavor and spices to develop a wider range in your palette. Think extra bitter flavors like arugula & radicchio or fermented foods like sauerkraut, olives & kimchi. See if you can get in the habit of using seasonings like cumin, curry & turmeric in your kitchen.
- Hydrate Y’all!!
Between 60 and 75 percent of Americans do not drink enough water. By simply taking the time to hydrate your body adequately you will decrease cravings naturally.
Try adding lime, mint and cucumber to give your water a sweet, refreshing flavor!
- If you have a sugar craving, indulge in natural sugars from the Earth. Things like bananas, dates, organic dark chocolate with 70% cacao, organic nut butters without additives, fresh fruit, frozen cherries and herbal tea. I love making naturally sweetened yet totally satisfying snacks like these when I feel a sugar craving arrive.
Yummy date smoothie
Coconut butter stuffed dates
Pumpkin Pie Energy Bites
Golden Milk Latte
Two Week Sugar & Artificial Sweetener Challenge
For two weeks, cut out all added sugar and artificial sweeteners.
Check out my Guide to a Sugar Reset for a step by step whole foods based approach!
The best way to improve your relationship with sugar consumption is to go two weeks without refined sugar. Think of it as a palate cleanse!
The first couple of days can be challenging as you have sugar withdrawal, but once you get through week one, your energy levels increase, your craving subsides, and you are on your way!~
Using a two-week challenge to reset your palate will help you more easily transition to a healthier diet with less sugar and artificial sweeteners.
- Do not add any form of sugar or alternative sweeteners to your foods or drinks! Avoid artificial and alternative sweeteners including Sweet ‘N Low, Equal, Splenda, monk fruit, neotame, stevia, and xylitol, etc.
- Avoid all sweetened sodas, bottled teas, sports drinks, energy drinks, fruit drinks and juice (even 100% juice), specialty coffee drinks, and any other liquid with added sweeteners.
- Cut out any foods that have a lot of added sugar or any artificial sweeteners such as cookies, cake, candy, yogurt, soy or sweetened almond milk, breakfast cereals, energy bars, or other foods.
Read labels! Aim for foods with 5 g of added sugar or less.
Better yet, say NO to packaged foods and stick to whole, one ingredient foods from the produce or meat aisle.
After you sail through two weeks of no refined sugar, list all of the improvements you noticed about your body, your mind, and your energy levels. Give yourself a pat on the back for the nutrient dense food you consumed. Think of how you will re-introduce sugar in a mindful, celebratory way!!