It’s a great time to start fresh and clear your body of toxins, which will also speed up your metabolism and give your overall health a boost. One way to do this is to decrease the amount of sugar you’re consuming.
When you eat more sugar, you ask your body for more insulin, straining your pancreas and wearing yourself out. This can lead to chronic fatigue, diabetes, packing on excess weight and can even contribute to cancer. Whether you are slowly cutting back on sugar or going cold turkey (watch out for headaches) it can be a struggle as sugar has become such a big part of our diets. Here are a few tips to get you started.
Give yourself time
Cold turkey can work for some people but your best bet is to use a gentle, step-by-step process that gives your body and your taste buds time to adapt. You don’t have to be perfect from day one, allow yourself the freedom to work at it without the anxiety of thinking you failed if you go for some chocolate or sugar in your coffee. Make a commitment to give it all you've got over a period of time that feels realistic to you, this will also help to avoid the headaches and cravings that come with a sudden stop of sugar.
Pick your poison
Think about everything you eat and drink and what your main source of sugar would be. Is it soft drinks, fruit juices (yes they have lots of sugar), sugar you add yourself, cakes, chocolates or cereals.
Once you know what to cut down, make a plan. If you've been adding three teaspoons of sugar to your tea or coffee, try reducing it to one or two within a week, then down to none in the next two weeks. It’s all about gradually cutting it back.
The key is to be excited about cutting down your consumption because it’s a good thing, it’s not a punishment. Try not to get frustrated because you think you’re depriving yourself, you’re doing yourself a favour!! Once you've cut down your main source of sugar, chances are that you will start to see some improvement in your weight and your energy levels.
Eat more real food
It can be hard because the list of processed foods never-ending. And, sugar often hides in cakes, cookies, chocolates, ice cream, popcorn, pretzels, fruit bars, energy bars, dressings, sauces, and condiments. See, it can show up everywhere. "Low-fat" or "no-fat" foods are often marketed as healthy but most of the time they have also been processed and fat has been replaced by hidden sugars or artificial sweeteners.
Start bringing more fresh produce and lean meats into your diet. If you’re cooking and preparing your food yourself, you'll cut your sugar intake dramatically. Remember you don’t have to get it right from the start, making it a part of your lifestyle takes time but that means you will be more likely to keep it up. Once you've cut down processed foods, you may realize that your sugar cravings will disappear too.
Get to bed
How many hours of sleep are you getting? Lots of times, the answer is less than five or six hours. Getting enough sleep helps by reducing your cravings for sugar as well as processed foods that contain sugar because your body won’t need to look for energy to stay awake. Sleep deprivation can lead to overeating and junk food cravings. This is why a proper amount of sleep can be a great way to curb cravings, which will also help you cut down sugar in your diet over time.
Stay hydrated and exercise regularly and you’re mind won’t have time to think about the sweet cravings that you used to have. Give yourself permission to fail and don’t beat yourself up, it’s a process. It’s a lifestyle choice that you have to make every day.