One of my takeaways from completing the Whole30 was a better awareness of how much sugar is in everything. I admit I had gotten away from reading labels and made the assumption that if it was from a store I trusted, like Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s, or marked as “natural” then it couldn’t be bad for me. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. There’s sugar in most processed foods and it’s even in items you wouldn’t expect (like mustard or chicken stock). It was frustrating for me to discover this, but a good reminder that I need to be a bit more cognizant of what I purchase.
Lately, I have been trying to be more mindful of my sugar intake and reduce the amount of added sugars in my diet. There are a few things that have helped me keep my sugar dragon at bay and I wanted to share those with you. As you know, I am not a registered dietitian. I am merely sharing my own opinion and personal experience. I encourage you to speak with your doctor or nutritionist before making any dietary changes.
- Be consistent with your meals. I usually eat 5-6 times per day, depending on when I have breakfast. I often go 3 hours in between my meals. If I am prepared with my own food then I won’t reach for processed junk when I’m hungry. I can’t stress this enough. If you are on time with your meals and plan ahead you won’t find yourself at the vending machine grabbing something you don’t really want simply because you’re starving.
- Don’t buy it. I have a cereal addiction. I could eat that every day for every meal. I found myself eating it constantly, especially late at night. So, I decided a couple of years ago I wasn’t going to buy it. Yes, we have Cheerios for the girls, but I don’t feel the need to have it. I don’t have the same control around Honey Bunches of Oats…or Raisin Bran Crunch…or Cinnamon Toast Crunch…I could go on and on. The same goes for sugary treats. If it’s in the house then I am going to eat it. If it isn’t around then I will reach for something else.
- Fruit, dates, raisins, even sweet potatoes can be a great way to satisfy a craving. Fruit contains fiber plus natural forms of sugar-mostly fructose-which gets processed differently by the body than refined sugar. But plain old fruit can be a bit boring, right? I like having a banana with nut butter and chopped dates or raisins. Toss a bit of cinnamon on that and you have a tasty treat! Just be mindful of how much fruit you eat. I try to keep mine to 2-3 servings a day. Have berries in the morning and denser fruit (like bananas or apples) later in the day or post workout. Berries don’t spike your insulin levels like other fruit making them a better choice in the am.
- Cut back on alcohol. One of my favorite indulgences is wine. And I’ll be honest…my NEED has gotten much stronger after becoming a parent. Sure, there are health benefits of red wine, but alcohol also contains a lot of sugar (and calories). A simple way to reduce your sugar intake is by cutting back on alcohol. I try to keep my drinks to 3 per week. I’ve started having a glass of kombucha in the evening, which is a great alternative to alcohol. Or I will have seltzer with lemon or lime with a splash of OJ. Just something to enjoy at the end of the day.
- Eat it and move on. If I really want something then I decide: do I want this now or can I wait until the weekend? If I want it now then I have it. Seriously, let’s not overthink it. If you are making good choices most of the time then just have the treat and let that be the end of it. If I can wait then I’ll save it for the weekend. Just be mindful not to go overboard with it when the time comes. I know there is a lot of discussion about whether having a cheat meal or day works. Some people have no problem with it and others find that it’s a gateway to going completely off course. So find what works for you, but don’t beat yourself up about it. Start fresh with the next meal.
What are your tips for reducing sugar intake or satisfying a sweet tooth? Does anyone else have a problem with cereal? It’s toooo good!