No doubt you swore at the beginning of the year that you were going to give up sugar and eat really healthy, cook all your meals, and lose 10 pounds.
You might find that your enthusiasm for all that healthy living has already begun to waver.
Getting off the sweet stuff is something I’m familiar with, so I want to share some simple steps that will help you get the sugar out.
Eat whole foods!
This is probably the simplest, and hardest, way to get sugar out of your life.
Eating a lot of processed foods usually means by default you’re eating more sugar than you need. There’s a lot of debate on whether or not sugar is addictive, but I personally believe that it is.
The more sweets you eat, the more sweets you crave.
One winter I thought I was doing myself a favor by making a healthy sweet treat once a day. Maybe you young’uns can do that, but you’ll learn, the game changes when you get into your 40s and beyond.
For most women. Some of you are lucky and have great metabolisms. And trust me, if you’re vertically challenged like me, it’s really hard.
Those sweets weren’t doing me any favors; I gained more pounds than I was comfortable with.
Ditch the soda
And speaking of addictive . . . I gave up soda years and years ago. It wasn’t really all that hard.
For years I’d take a sip of my husband’s now and again, when I was craving something sweet, but over time I didn’t even want that. Why ingest a bunch of chemicals when you could have some soothing tea, a sweet smoothie, or just some plain old refreshing water?
Seriously, over time, when I took that sip of my husband’s soda, it no longer tasted good. At all.
And if you think diet soda is doing you any favors, think again. Remember, the more sweet you eat/drink, the more you want?
Sugar hides everywhere: tomato sauce, yogurt, bacon, salad dressings, flavored oatmeals — you name it, and some food manufacturer has probably added sugar to it.
Why? Because it’s addicting! And they want you to buy their product. Again and again and again.
Don’t think you’re safe if you don’t see sugar on the label, either, because sugar hides under many, many names: honey, maple syrup, agave, brown rice syrup, cane sugar, dextrose, fructose, maltodextrin . . . the list goes on and on.
Yes, honey and maple syrup and some other sweeteners have some nutritional value, but they’re still sugar. So just use sparingly.
Go easy on the artificial sweeteners
If you take nothing away from this post, take away that sugar is addicting. Anything sweet tasting is addicting.
A few years back, when I went to Montreal to run my third half, I was under a lot of stress much like last year: a cat who was sick and a father who needed brain surgery — we found out about my father literally the day before we were supposed to leave for Montreal.
I wasn’t feeling well. I forgot my stevia, which is what I use to sweeten my tea. I felt I really needed that tea to stay healthy, so I just drank it unsweetened. And I’ve never looked back.
I still sweeten some of my flavored teas, but I use much, much less stevia when I do. Because I’ve trained my taste buds to prefer my tea less sweet. That’s the exception, though; I usually drink 2-3 mugs of green tea and they’re not sweetened at all.
I was using stevia long before it became trendy. I don’t do splenda (hides as sucralose), or aspartame. I try to limit my use of stevia, as well. Because, repeat after me: anything sweet tasting makes you crave more sweets.
I know, I know; we’re all busy. Convenience foods are, well, convenient. They also often packed with sodium and sugar, especially if they’re low fat — manufacturers add more sugar to low fat food to make it palatable; it’s part of why the whole Snackwells craze of the 80s left us heavier, not lighter.
If you only cook one meal at home a week, go for two. I’m not saying you have to cook every single meal you eat, but just aim to cook more often.
I have tried the 21 Day Sugar Detox before. It’s a good program and the recipes are tasty and I do still rotate those recipes through what I cook/bake. But I always go back to sugar. I’m a moderately active person — I know some would think very active, but the truth is I still spend a lot of time sitting and still love to lay down and watch some tv midday (and Gizmo and Lola really encourage that).
The bottom line is I’m okay with some sugar, and I didn’t od on sugar over the holidays, but as always, I found sweet treats creeping in as an everyday indulgence when they really didn’t need to be.
So I didn’t do anything crazy at the beginning of the year, but I have been playing around with simply having more savory snacks and breakfasts and not necessarily having chocolate every day. Reaching for fruit where I might have reached for chocolate before. Saving the sweet treats for the days I’m more active.
It’s not about deprivation; it’s about moderation.
Have you ever tried a sugar detox? How’d that go for you?