What’s that “stuff” called? That White powdery substance that just makes you feel reeeeealllll good? Ladies, sometimes we just can’t seem to get it off our minds. And when we try really, really hard, it just keeps coming back to our mind and making us want more and more. The more we have it, the more we crave. Even when we run the other way, it has a tendency to find us and sneak its way back into our daily life style. This “stuff’ is a powdery substance called SUGAR. What can we do, busy ladies, to kick the sugar habit?
We’re not talking about some dangerous or illegal drug here; we’re talking about sugar. Although it’s considered harmless in comparison, sugar, in excess, can cause a host of problems for a lot of us: cravings, binge eating, weight gain and heart disease. Surprisingly, some so-called “healthy foods” such as yogurt and instant flavored oatmeal can pack in 20 to 30 grams (five to seven teaspoons) of unnecessary added sugar! It seems like we’re drowning in sugar, and not even wearing a life vest.
Below is a four-week action plan to help us cut out sugar. If we try to stop cold turkey, that spells certain failure. So, its best to take one step at a time.
- WEEK 1: Identify Hidden Sugar – Rid your pantry and refrigerator of added sugar. Removing ice cream, cookies, and candy are the obvious ones. But what about those hidden ingredients that we think of as “healthy sugars”? READ YOUR LABELS!. Look for ingredients such as: Agave nectar, agave syrup, barley malt, date sugar, dextrose, diatase, lactose, cane sugar, brown sugar, evaporated cane juice, to name a few. The first week is about awareness. Once you have identified the sources of sugar in your diet, clean out your kitchen and rid yourself of hidden or added sugars.
- WEEK 2: Restock Your Sugar-Free Kitchen – Now that you know what to look for (and avoid), it’s time to replace the products you tossed with sugar-free counterparts. For example, replace high-sugar cereals with a whole grain cereal that contains little to no added sugars. Sweeten it naturally with berries or half of a diced banana. Instead of snacking on candy or cookies, reach for a handful of nuts or some raw veggies and hummus. Replace sweetened yogurt with Greek yogurt or plain yogurt. Look back at week one and the foods you used to eat that contained sugar. Can you find no-sugar oatmeal? A healthier snack than a sugar-sweetened smoothie (how about a whole piece of fruit)? A more filling afternoon treat than that sugary “protein bar” (such as peanut butter on whole-grain crackers)?
- WEEK 3: Block the Sugar Cravings – Now you really start to put your plan into action. You’ve identified the sources of added sugar in your diet and replaced those foods with healthier and more wholesome alternatives. Your kitchen is now set up for success! This week, ladies, lets focus on trying really hard to avoid sugary foods. When a craving strikes, try going for a walk or simply drinking a glass of water.. Typically, any craving will go away if you wait it out long enough. But it’s important to begin understanding the difference between being truly hungry or just craving a particular food. If you are truly hungry, a handful of nuts or some raw veggies dipped in hummus will sound appetizing, so go ahead and eat one of your healthy snacks. But if you’re craving something sweet or a specific sugary food, use a distraction technique.
- WEEK 4: New Life Long Game Plan – Now that you have yanked that sweet tooth, it’s time to devise a plan to prevent a sugar addiction relapse. Although sugar isn’t necessary for health and it’s perfectly fine if you want to continue avoiding it, it probably isn’t realistic for most people to avoid all forms of sugar forever.
So if you want to allow a little sweetness back into your life, that’s OK. Moderation is key. Don’t let sugar and sweets become a daily habit. Instead, consider them to be special occasion treats only. If you slip up, ladies, don’t beat yourself up over it. Accept your action and decide to make a better decision next time and move on.
Ladies, let’s continue to experiment with your new, healthy foods and recipes. You’d be surprised at how many ways you can make treats healthier and use far less sugar than a recipe suggests.