Instead of giving you the burden of a complete, and often unsustainable, lifestyle change, we put together some suggestions for achievable changes you can make every day to improve your health in the new year.
Have you ever thought about how much sugar you consume every day? Aside from the obvious candy and baked goods, sugar creeps up in your beverages, breads, dairy, fruits, breakfast cereals, condiments, coffee and much more. A 2008 study showed that the average person in the U.S consumed over 60 pounds of sugar per year. That’s 75 grams a day! Sugar takes a serious toll on our bodies and increases our susceptibility to some pretty scary stuff like insomnia, diabetes, tooth decay, obesity, premature aging, heart disease and cancer. If you decide to make the change and cut back on the sugar, you’ll be treating yourself to a healthier you!
Here’s some tips on how to reduce your sugar intake:
SAY GOODBYE TO HIDDEN SOURCES
Say hasta la vista to products with artificial sweeteners and high fructose corn syrup. These sweetener’s are hidden in products, such as, fruit juices, soda, flavored yogurts, nutrition bars, salad dressings and many breakfast cereals. Try reading the labels on any processed products that you consume for 1 day and you may be surprised at how many items contain brown rice syrup, cane sugar, corn syrup, evaporated cane juice or other euphemistic phrases that really mean SUGAR.
Outsmart one of the oldest tricks in the marketing book and be cognizant that sugar can hide under the labels of “sugar-free”, “skinny” or “diet”. Sorry to say it’s time to break up with any brand that begins with the word “skinny” (aka Skinnygirl, Skinny Cow, etc) because the artificial additives used to replace fats in foods are actually way worse for us than full-fat foods.
Now that you laid down the the groundwork for the breakup, it’s time to start your new relationship with unsweetened and whole-organic foods. Instead of ketchup, use condiments like tahini, mustard or hot sauce (provided it has no added sugar). Swap sugary cereals for plain cereal brands like Barbara’s Original Puffins, Peace Cereal and Lydia’s Kind Foods.
SUBSTITUTES WHEN THE GOING GETS TOUGH
If you’re struggling to cut sugar off cold turkey and find yourself needing an extra oomph in your morning coffee, go for natural sweeteners. Consider adding vanilla extract, almond extract, date sugar, maple syrup or honey. Even though these contain natural sugars, it’s a step in the right direction.
Gradually put less and less sugar in your coffee and replace artificial creamers with real milk or homemade almond, soy or coconut milk for an alternative. For sweet treats, coconut oil and organic peanut/almond butter are also great options. Taste the difference for yourself with these Cookie Energy Bites!
It’s unrealistic to try to live a completely sugar-free lifestyle so try to make sure that your sugar is coming from natural foods and put a cap on your intake. Look at it like you’re trading in sugar for more energy. Once your body adapts to the break up with sugar, the easier it will be to wane your body and mind off the illusion of satisfaction that sugar creates.