Ever attended a pot-luck, summer BBQ, birthday party or sports event and looked around? Any social gathering is guaranteed to be fully loaded with sugary-sweet snacks, treats and desserts.
But sugar is not all fun and games — it comes with a cost, and we are paying for it with our health. Diabetes rates are at epidemic levels, and taking a sweet toll on our health care system.
Take a look at your sugar intake. The World Health Organization advises women have no more than 4 teaspoons a day of sugar. That’s 24 grams. A grande spiced pumpkin latte has 49 grams of sugar — that’s twice the recommended amount! And I’d guess it doesn’t stop there.
If it’s time to ditch the sugar, start with a plan. Here are some of my favorite tips and strategies to use for living sugar free.
1. Use sweet vegetables in place of the sugary stuff.
Bell peppers, beets, sweet potatoes. When you cut out sugar you become more sensitive to natural sweet flavors. Before long it won’t take much to satisfy the sweet craving.
No lie, after quitting sugar I took a bite of a carrot and thought, “No way! How can it be this sweet?”
2. Experiment with herbal teas.
Many berry herbal teas are sweet, refreshing and hit that sweet spot. They're a great replacement for those sugar-laden hot coffee drinks. Try them hot or iced. Hibiscus and raspberry leaf are among my favorites.
3. Focus on the good stuff.
When we eliminate something from our lives we need to add something to replace it with. When you cut sugar, focus on all of the good stuff your body needs and you won’t even think about what you’re missing.
When you fill yourself up with the good stuff, you won’t have any room left for the junk.
4. Distract yourself.
When a craving hits, go for a walk, brush your teeth, drink a large glass of water. Find ways to take your mind off of the craving and develop new emotional coping mechanisms.
5. Connect with a friend.
Addiction often stems from lack of relational connection. When you feel a craving come on, call a friend. Fill that void by connecting on an emotional or spiritual level with someone, instead of trying to fill it with food. Trust me, food doesn’t work.
6. Read the labels.
Sugar is hidden in so many foods. You’re eating it without even realizing it in things like bread, dips and sauces. Pay attention and read the both the nutrition facts and the ingredients list.
You'll be surprised by what you find.
7. Avoid extreme flavors.
Extreme salty and bitter flavors will cause your body to crave something sweet to balance itself. Your body desires balance. Extreme flavors off-set that balance causing cravings of the opposite taste.
8. Use cinnamon.
Cinnamon is known to balance blood sugar levels. Sprinkle some in your tea or coffee, or add some to your morning oatmeal. Try a drop of essential oil on the tongue, it's sweet and powerful and will satisfy any craving.
9. Become familiar with coconut products.
The sugar from coconuts is limited and primarily glucose so it won’t come with all the negative effects from fructose. Plus, coconut comes with a long list of health benefits. Try coconut water, coconut milk, coconut cream, coconut oil, coconut flakes (raw or toasted), and best of all, try it fresh.
Try my Cinnamon Coconut Cream recipe with a dash of cinnamon for a delicious dessert.
10. Remember your WHY.
Why did you decide to quit sugar? How do you want to feel? What do you want to accomplish? What would life look like if you continued with your sugar addiction?
Write your why down and post it somewhere so you will see it every day as a reminder.
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