How Can I Cut Back on Sugar?
You definitely don't want to eliminate all added sugar because restriction will only lead to bigger cravings, causing you to overeat it. Jackie said it's important to honor your hunger cues and give yourself unconditional permission to eat the foods you desire, two of the 10 principles of intuitive eating. "Normalizing sweets and including them regularly in your diet, when you want them, is the best thing you can do to prevent feeling deprived and end up binge eating those foods," Jackie said.
But if you know that eating too much sugar makes you feel crummy and you want to cut down, here are some tips to help you reduce your sugar intake without missing it:
- You may be eating sugar all the time because you have this mentality that you shouldn't be eating it — this only makes you want it more, Jackie explained. Allowing yourself one time each day to eat sugar could alleviate your need to eat it all day long. Rachel agreed and said to make it part of your routine. Pack a piece of chocolate in your lunch or buy portion-controlled ice cream cups. Something like that is small but enough to satisfy your cravings.
- Don't go too long without eating, Rachel said. Hunger increases our cravings for quick energy foods, like sugar.
- Make sure your first meal of the day offers protein such as eggs, healthy fats like peanut butter, and complex carbs like steel-cut oats and fruit, Rachel said. It'll give you energy and help you feel satisfied so you won't feel the need to reach for a high-sugar pick-me-up.
- Eat adequate healthy fats at meals, suggested Rachel. Fat takes a long time to digest, which helps to keep blood sugar levels stable and helps keep you full longer. Examples include nuts and seeds, olive oil, and avocado.
- Increasing your intake of fruits and veggies can help curb sugar cravings, Emily said.
- Snack on fresh fruit after dinner, or make frozen fruit "nice" cream instead of ice cream.
- Get enough sleep as fatigue can increase sugar cravings, Jackie explained.
- Find non-food, more productive ways to deal with stress.
Make small, realistic goals when it comes to cutting down on sugar, Emily suggested. If you drink three sodas a day, try cutting it down to two sodas in the first week. Then a week or so after, try cutting back a little more until you don't feel like you're relying on it.
You can do this with dessert, or chocolate, breakfast doughnuts, sugar in your coffee, or maple syrup in your oatmeal. Some people may do great cutting down on sugar cold turkey, while most will appreciate the gradual decrease so your body can adapt without really missing it.