It's no secret that excess sugar can sabotage weight loss progress. What's worse is that beyond the weight gain, it can cause a heap of health problems, including diabetes. But we're inundated with sweet food all the time - many of us from the time we're little kids - with sweets, desserts, fizzy drinks, and more. Processed sugar can have a hold on us, very much like a drug. So how do we break the cycle? How do we end the addiction to and dependence on sugar?
Step 1: Identify the Source
What are you eating? Where is the sugar coming from? Is it an obvious source like sweets and soda, or perhaps hidden sugar in processed foods? One of the first actionable steps that you can take is to identify your key sources of sugar that you eat on the daily, The idea is to phase out your sources of sugar SLOWLY. Don't go cold turkey, or your body will fight back - that's the craving and withdrawal phase.
If you're struggling to figure out where your sugar is coming from, I recommend downloading a fantastic smartphone app called SUGARSMART that can help you convert the food label and find hidden sources of added sugars. The app is free and is a very effective tool to have when doing your weekly shop.
Step 2: Start to Cut Back
It's important to phase it out slowly. I recommended identifying one or two sources that you could easily give up tomorrow, like fizzy drinks, sugary coffee drinks, or perhaps a supersweet mid-afternoon snack.
Five to seven days after your initial phase out, identify another one or two sources of sugar in your diet, and slowly eliminate those, and to repeat once more about a week later. If you go slow, you'll have a longer-lasting effect, and reduce the likelihood of a binge, if you try cutting all sugars out straight away your body will need a sugar re-feed after 48 hours and your attempt to succeed will be wasted.
Also, get that sugar out of sight. Don't keep sweets in the house!!!! It's way too tempting when it's so close at hand. I often ask my Personal Training clients if they have any sugar sweet foods in the cupboards and usually get a reply of "NO" but I know some of you too well.
The first three to four weeks will be the most challenging, with some people experiencing withdrawal symptoms, but your body will rebalance itself and cravings will become less intense and less frequent.
Throughout this process, it is vital that you don't let yourself feel too hungry at any given moment. Lets face it we never make our best decisions on an empty stomach, When you're trying to cut down on the amount of sugar you eat, be sure to pack healthy snacks that'll keep you satisfied, and keep the hunger at bay.
Step 3: Make Healthy Swaps
It is very important to apply this phasing out method to our shopping list using the SUGARSMART APP I mentioned earlier, yet still emphasised the slow speed, as to not shock your body and to create a sustainable change. Slowly remove those foods from your list, shifting toward unsweetened milks and yoghurts, natural nut butters, whole grains, and simple swaps such as cinnamon or nutmeg to sweeten plain cereals and coffee.
Try not to eat anything in a package, or anything pre-prepared food. Focus on whole foods and natural ingredients. I recommend starting with fruits and veggies, to make healthy substitutions. Be sure you know the difference between added and natural sugar; sugar naturally occurs in whole foods like fruits, vegetables, milk and yoghurt, and beansthese are healthy foods that should be a part of your diet.
Need a snack? I encourage all my clients to stock up on nuts, veggie slices and hummus, and natural nut butter (no sugar added!) with fruit for snacks. Once processed sugar comes out of your diet, these naturally sweet foods will taste even sweeter, as your brain and taste buds adjust. Because you're more sensitive to sweet now, some foods may even taste too sweet.
Download the amazing SUGARSMART APP now! and start scanning through your cupboards at home, you will be surprised at just how much sugar is in your daily foods you and your family consume.
For more information and tips on nutrition please see my contact page and get in touch with MAXIMUM FITNESS PERSONAL TRAINING, PORTSMOUTH, SOUTHSEA.