If you’ve ever been on a strict diet, especially one that limits sugar intake, you know how challenging it can be. Often, diets create an unhealthy relationship with food as they tend to focus more on restrictions and limitations than balanced eating. One recent study suggests that dieting doesn’t often create lasting change. While dieting can initially show promising results like weight loss and decreased blood pressure, those effects usually disappear after about a year. This isn’t because the diet itself is ineffective, but because imposing restrictions often results in binge eating. Long story short, these types of diets aren’t sustainable.
However, that doesn’t mean it’s hopeless to alter your diet. There are ways to eat healthier and decrease your sugar intake without counting carbs and calories. Keep reading to learn a few simple tips and tricks you can use to reduce your sugar intake.
Surprisingly, a lot of the sugar we consume daily doesn’t come from our food but from our beverages. Sodas, even diet sodas, are packed with sugar and artificial sweeteners, and so are fancy coffee drinks like Frappuccinos and flavored lattes. To lower your sugar intake, replace your sugary soda with water and stick to black coffee. You can make the change gradually by swapping one soda a week with a glass of water or seltzer and slowly decreasing the amount of sugar you add to your coffee or tea.
Juice is another drink to watch out for. Real fruit juice contains many essential vitamins and antioxidants, but it also has a lot of fructose (fruit sugar). Juice cocktails and kid’s juice boxes are especially sugary and are usually ten percent or less real fruit juice. The rest is high fructose corn syrup and artificial sweeteners.
Whole foods are products that don’t contain any additives or artificial substances and have not been processed or refined. On the other end of the spectrum are ultra-processed foods, like pizzas, cereals, and soft drinks, which contain artificial colors, flavoring, and other additives. One study found that nearly 90% of added sugars in the average American’s diet come from these ultra-processed foods. Instead of buying frozen meals and pre-processed foods, try to shop for whole ingredients that you can use to cook meals from scratch. You can also consider investing in a meal kit delivery service that sends all the ingredients you need to cook a meal, measured out with step-by-step instructions.
Eating enough whole, nutritional meals throughout the day is also the first step to curb cravings. Sugar is actually as addictive as some drugs, so it’s essential to learn how to manage these urges.
When your body goes too long without food, it goes into starvation mode, prompting cravings. If you’re too busy to cook three to five meals a day, prepare your meals for the week ahead of time so you always have a healthy grab-and-go dish ready. You can also limit cravings by drinking plenty of water daily. The same part of your brain controls both appetite and thirst, so it’s easy to confuse one for the other.
In trying to reduce your sugar intake, there’s little need to cut out dessert, candy, and ice cream entirely. The key is to enjoy these sweet treats in moderation. It’s very easy to underestimate just how much sugar is in your favorite treats, especially when we indulge past the serving size.
Speaking of the nutrition label, be on the lookout for “hidden sugars.” Often, products that contain sugar use different names in the nutrition facts panel, so be aware of sugar synonyms like corn syrup, sucrose, dextrose, honey, and agave nectar. Check the labels and limit your consumption of foods that contain too many of these added sugars.
Sleep is one of the most important factors to your overall health, but did you know that your quality of sleep can impact the dietary choices you make the next day? A study found that people who didn’t get a full night’s sleep ate more calories, junk food, and soda than the participants who went to bed early and got a full night’s rest.
Though it may seem helpful in the short term, dieting does little to encourage you to make lifelong, sustainable, choices about food. By making a few simple changes, instead of overhauling your entire diet, you can start the journey toward making healthier dietary choices that also limit your overall sugar consumption.
BlissMark provides information regarding health, wellness, and beauty. The information within this article is not intended to be medical advice. Before starting any diet or exercise routine, consult your physician. If you don’t have a primary care physician, the United States Health & Human Services department has a free online tool that can help you locate a clinic in your area. We are not medical professionals, have not verified or vetted any programs, and in no way intend our content to be anything more than informative and inspiring.
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