Sugar is a completely crucial part of our diet, and without it we would simply have no energy to move or even to run our most basal body functions such as breathing, blinking and otherwise staying alive. A reliance on sugar then is to be expected, but at the same time there is also certainly such thing as too much of a good thing in this case – and if you eat too much sugar in its raw ‘simple’ form you will find that it can cause incredible damage to your body and is highly toxic.
First of all, eating sugar of course leads to weight gain, as you will end up eating far in excess of the amount of sugar that you need for normal function. At the same time eating too much sugar will cause damage to your nerves and organs (this is why diabetic patients can end up losing limbs or going blind) and can lead to problems with your insulin production (which is how type 2 diabetes often begins). That’s not to mention what sugar does to your teeth – fuelling the bacteria that lives in your mouth and leading to the formation of more plaque.
For these reasons it is very important to bring sugar consumption under control, but that can be difficult in a world where sugar is always freely available and often associated with ‘treats’. With sugar being used in such high quantities in deserts and puddings, as well as being added to all kinds of foods and drinks, it’s very difficult to regulate your intake – and it’s not long before you develop a ‘sweet tooth’ and a physical addiction.
The antidote to this problem is to apply some willpower and determination, and to make just some small changes to your diet that will help you to limit how much sugar you consume. Here we will look at some tips that can help you to accomplish just this.
Step 1 – Remove the Sugar From Your Tea/Coffee
Removing sugar from your tea is a very important step to take if you want to take your restriction of sugar seriously for many reasons. First and foremost it is a great way to show discipline and dedication – if you are committed to changing your diet then you should at least be able to stop eating sugar. By making this daily decision you are training yourself in refusing sugar and other things that you crave.
At the same time you are of course consuming a lot less sugar if you stop getting it from your tea. If you are like many people who drink 3-5 cups of tea or coffee a day, and you used to have two teaspoons of sugar in each, then that’s immediately 6-10 teaspoons of sugar gone. Imagine eating that not in tea – suddenly it becomes apparent just how unhealthy that is for you.
Finally though, and perhaps most importantly, by removing the sugar from your tea and coffee you are also removing your sweet tooth. You are getting used to drinking something that tastes relatively more bland on a daily basis and this will ensure that other things start to taste sweeter by comparison. And this in turn will stop you from craving the sugar.
Step 2 – Giving Up Sweetener
If you thought that changing to sweetener was a good idea then think again – sweetener will only cause more problems and make it harder for you to stay off sugar. The main reason for this is that by eating sweetener you are tricking your body into thinking that you have had a sudden intake of sugar. That then in turn causes your body to respond with an insulin spike which means that all of the sugar that is in your body is used up leaving you feeling tired and lethargic and, of course, craving more sugar. Furthermore if you are using sweetener then you aren’t training your palette in the way mentioned above. You have to go cold turkey on this thing.
Step 3 – Stop Drinking Fizzy Drinks
Soda drinks are one of the very worst culprits for sneaking extra sugar into your diet and eliminating them is one of the best ways to help yourself get less sugar. If you think this is unnecessary, then it may interest you to know that for every glass of Coca Cola you drink, you are consuming the equivalent of two Cadbury’s Cream Eggs in terms of sugar. Imagine that you’re eating those next time you have a fizzy drink and you’ll realize how actually repulsive these drinks are. Replace them with water which will have many other health benefits, or a natural fruit juice (though these are still quite high in sugar).
Step 4 – Change Your Thinking
What’s the difference between someone who is successful in their diet and someone who is not? The answer is that it’s all in their mind. It’s not to do with genetics, or circumstances, or money, but just how good you are at coming up with a set of targets and then really sticking to them.
So how can you change this? One way is to look at the way in which you are setting goals. Are you currently focussed on losing weight? Is your goal to be 2 stone slimmer by the end of the year? Because if it is then this is not the most efficient way to set goals as you are looking at something you can’t directly control. Instead make your target to eat no more than one pudding a week for the next ten weeks. Suddenly you have a goal that is directly under your control and that makes you more likely to stick to it – the weight loss will take care of itself.
Meanwhile you also need to stop thinking of sweets and puddings as a ‘treat’ because that of course makes them desirable. Try to replace them in your mind with other treats, such as yogurt or cereal or things that don’t have as many carbs and think of these as your ‘treats’. Meanwhile when you think of your chocolates and cakes, try to focus in your mind on how unhealthy they are and think about how you are going to feel after you’ve and the chocolates – most likely somewhat guilty and a bit lethargic. Finally, try to focus on the rewarding feeling you get when you ignore your cravings and remember – each time you do that you are moving slightly closer to your weight loss goals.
Step 5 – Eat Complex Carbs for Breakfast
When we crave something sweet it is often because we don’t have enough glucose in our blood already. This then means that we are likely to want to get that sugar hit to give us the feeling of more energy, rather than remaining feeling tired and we turn to less healthy and unnatural sources to do this.
What you need to do then is to manage your energy levels so that you don’t have those moments where there’s no glucose in your blood. The way to accomplish this is by eating ‘complex carbs’. These are the carbs that don’t taste sweet, but nevertheless contain glucose – such as bread and pasta. When you eat these more complex forms, your body then has to work harder and take longer in order to break them down and release the sugar and this then means that you get a ‘steady supply’ of sugar and energy throughout the day rather than a sudden hit. This doesn’t cause the same insulin spike that leads to an energy trough, but it does mean your body is at no point ‘craving’ energy in the same way. Eat a complex carb for breakfast and you won’t start carving Kit Kats come 10am.
Step 6 – Be Happy
The sugar cravings aren’t the only things that make you want that pick me up in the form of carbs though. Often we want sugar just because we are feeling ‘low’ or generally lethargic and this can also be due to tiredness, lack of sleep or even depression.
In other words then if you really want to see changes in your diet then you can’t just change what you eat. You’ve known what’s bad for you for a long time now, and you haven’t been able to eliminate it before so there’s no reason you will be able to now unless you change the way that you are.
So you need to stop feeling low and tired and you need to change the other aspects of your life so that you come home energized and not wanting sugar. That means making sure you get more sleep, it means improving the other aspects of your diet so your body is more efficient, it means exercising and it means getting therapy or talking to a friend if you need to get something off of your chest. Make an effort to completely improve your circumstances and things like diet changes will come much more easily.