Have you already eliminated sweet soda drinks from your diet? Learn some more ideas how to beat sugar addiction. Take it to the next level and try to give up on sugar totally. Here comes an action plan that will help you feel good and tame your sweet tooth in four weeks.
Week 1: Educate yourself and read labels carefully
The first week is about awareness. An overlooked aspect is the hidden sugar in foods that you don't even think of as sugary foods — such as potato chips and pasta sauce.
Unfortunately, some ingredient lists hide the amount of sugar in a product. Often, food manufacturers may use multiple forms of sugar each with a different name. To avoid having “sugar” as the first ingredient, they list each one individually on the labels.
By using this trick, sugars are listed separately in smaller amounts. This makes it more difficult for you to determine how much overall sugar is in a product.
Educate yourself about what you’re putting into your body. The better you know the most common names for it, the easier it will be for you in the future to make wise buying decisions. Become familiar with the typical terminology, like:
- High fructose corn syrup: (HFCS),
- Invert sugar, and
- Sugar alcohols.
Check the grams of it, and choose products with the least “white poison” per serving (one teaspoon of sugar is roughly equivalent to about four grams).
Week 2: Keep junk foods out of your house and office
Storing candies at home are a real barrier on your way to a healthy living especially when you are overweight. Comb through your pantry, fridge, and car and get rid of ALL of your junk food like chocolate, lollies, fat-free candies, and other sweets.
Believe me: it’s difficult to snack on things that aren’t available…
Of course I know some addicts who will rush to the supermarket or petrol station late at night to purchase their sweets, but usually, you will go to bed without a chocolate snack if there is nothing stocked at home. And the next morning you are happy that you could resist.
Don’t forget to eliminate products with hidden “white poison” from your household too. If unsure, use the above terminology list to detect sugar in disguise.
Week 3: Stop the cravings
How can you overcome your addiction and satisfy your sweet tooth at the same time? Find here some healthy ideas:
- Unprocessed breakfast foods: Eating a good breakfast is essential to preventing cravings. Choosing whole, unprocessed breakfast foods, such as an apple, or a bowl of old-fashioned oatmeal, is a great way to avoid eating added sugars. You might even add some nuts with healthy fats for a satiety effect.When you are following the “Whole grain“ challenge of week #8, you are eating a healthy breakfast anyway.
- Cinnamon – With this sweet spice, you'll find a little goes a long way. Just two teaspoons will sweeten a tart apple pie, cutting the amount of sugar you'll need to add. Unlike sugar, which has 'empty' calories, cinnamon also contains traces of vitamin B, fiber, iron, and calcium!
- Tip: Try replacing it in a tea or coffee with a cinnamon stick. Stirring your drink keeps your hands occupied and helps you to cut down on sugar.
- Other sweet spices – Using various spices to add some real flavor to your cooking will cut out the need to add sugar every time. Cloves, cardamon, anise, ginger, nutmeg, and mint will naturally sweeten your foods and reduce cravings.
- I know I’m repeating myself, but a slice of lemon or a twist of lemon peel can really ‘lift' a plain filtered water.
- Do you love soda? Check out my baby step approach to curb sugar cravings!
- Fruit toppings – If you want something sweet without the empty calories, then try crushed pineapple, applesauce, strawberries or blueberries on your pancakes or waffles. To really bring out the full flavor of the fruit, sprinkle it with some nutmeg or cinnamon.
- Plain yogurt flavored with fresh fruits – This is a great alternative to fruit preserves and has a natural, healthy sweetness.
- 1-ingredient frozen banana ice-cream (nicecream)
- Fruit spreads – Try a self-mixed fruit spread based on pureed dried fruits that were soaked in water before. They are super delicious, very healthy and last for months.
- Unsweetened frozen fruit – This is a much better alternative to canned or preserved fruit which may have a lot of added sugar.
- Lean protein: When cravings occur, eat something protein-rich instead of sweet. Try to incorporate lean protein with each meal. This helps to control blood sugar levels. No need to rush here; eating lean protein is a habit we will tackle in upcoming weeks. You’ve already started learning about this in our low-fat dairy challenge – week 10.
Week 4: Long-term Approach
Although our body doesn’t need sugar, it probably isn't realistic for most people to avoid all forms of it forever.
If you can’t give up totally on sugar, try to at least eat it AFTER a balanced meal something I am doing successfully for many years now. An espresso with a bit of dark chocolate after a healthy meal is less risky than eating the chocolate on an empty stomach and finding yourself back in trouble with sugar all over again.
My tip on how I personally curb my cravings: A great compromise for me is making myself a Latte Macchiato at home. In Germany, you can order it in every good coffee shop. This is an Espresso combined with warm low-fat milk + low-fat milk foam. The milk sugar with coffee boosts my energy levels and keeps me satiated for many hours.
As with many other things in life, the key lies in moderation. Indulge wisely and consider sugar to be a special occasion treat only.
What do you do when you crave sugar?
I’d love to read your favorite recipes, ideas, and inspirations. Or have you stopped eating sugar altogether? What were your strategies for overcoming this stubborn addiction?