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Summary: Find out how to break your addiction to sugar in this article.
Have you ever tracked your food for the day or the week and realized just how much sugar you’re actually eating? If you eat packaged foods, even seemingly healthy options like fruit and nut bars or flavored Greek yogurt, you’re probably taking in a considerably larger amount of sugar than you were aware of and more than recommended.
The American Heart Association states that men should limit their sugar intake to 37.5 grams or 9 teaspoons per day and women should limit theirs to 25 grams or 6 teaspoons per day. A typical, low fat strawberry yogurt has 17 grams of sugar, over half of the recommended intake! It’s also known that sugar is addictive, meaning the more you eat, the more you want to eat.
If you’re looking to break your sugar addiction, here are six steps you can take to help:
Sleep more: One of the most common times we reach for sugar or white starchy foods is when we’re tired. Our bodies are craving quick energy and sugar is an easy, but not sustainable, way to get it. Focus on getting 7-8 hours of sleep per night, even if you have to put a “lights out” time in place!
Clean out your kitchen: Out of sight, out of mind. If you remove sugary foods from your home, you’re considerably less likely to have sugary desserts, or snack on sweets while watching TV. If you have a family member who won’t budge on their favorite treats, ask them to put them somewhere you won’t find them!
Eat nutritious foods: Other than sleep, we can also crave sugar for energy when we aren’t getting proper nutrition and our bodies are tired. We all know food is fuel, but if you fuel your body with clean, whole foods and healthy carbs (sweet potatoes, quinoa, oatmeal, etc.) you’ll save yourself from those cravings.
Exercise: Another reason we turn to sugar is stress. Emotional or stress eating can be a huge cause of weight gain, since we’re often eating comforting (i.e. unhealthy) foods without actually being hungry. Exercise is a great stress reliever and good for your body in many other ways.
Ditch artificial sweeteners: Many people pick up artificial sweeteners to avoid eating sugar, but since it tastes sweet your brain still thinks you’re eating sugary foods and thus you still crave sugary foods. Go for ripe fruits, especially berries or bananas, to sweeten up your food and soon your taste buds will adjust.
Create a backup plan: When you’re first trying to ditch sugar it can be pretty hard to resist cravings. Knowing that you’re going to want a sugar snack, create a plan to distract yourself from reaching for something sweet. Great options are going for a walk, calling a friend, or finding something else to do with your hands, like a craft project or playing cards. Also keep healthy snacks around if you really are hungry.
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