Sugar is a hidden ingredient in many foods you may never have known even contained sugar.
Did you know sugar is in many seasonings and condiments you use daily? From ketchup to pickles, even savory foods are not exempt. Now more than ever, we are being bombarded by sugar in almost everything we consume. High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) is even worse than sugar and is being used in cereals and many products on the grocery shelves. I actually just saw HFCS in a jar of salsa! What’s so bad about HFCS? Dr. Mark Hyman, an advocate of limiting sugar intake says in a recent blog:
- We are consuming HFCS and sugar in pharmacologic quantities never before experienced in human history–140 pounds a year versus 20 teaspoons a year 10,000 years ago.
- High fructose corn syrup is always found in very poor-quality foods that are nutritionally vacuous and filled with all sorts of other disease promoting compounds, fats, salt, chemicals, and even mercury.
A recent study on rats showed that sugar can be more addicting than concaine and heroin! Isn’t it time to start taking a look at this super villain and finding ways to either cut way back or completely eliminate it from your diet?
Here are 10 steps to help you and your family reduce or eliminate processed and refined sugars for good:
- Eat whole foods
- Go Fresh by buying eating delicious and colorful fruits, berries, sweet tomatoes, sweet peppers and mineral rich greens
- Avoid produce that has been picked unripe and trucked across the world by shopping for your produce at your local farmers market. Eating ripe and local gets your body in harmony with the area of the planet you are living on. This helps keep your core temperature and immune system stay more balanced.
- Avoid the middle of the grocery store where all the packaged foods live. Most cookies, chips, and other snacks are packed with hidden sugars and other harmful chemicals, even organic and natural snacks are often very high in sugar.
- Order online to avoid temptation. I get my dry items, spices, coconut aminos, oils, nuts, and seeds from Thrive Market which offers discounts on organic, non-GMO, whole foods.
- Use low glycemic natural sweeteners in place of sugar
- Stevia is a natural plant which is 100x sweeter than sugar, and is 100% sugar-free. It doesn’t raise blood sugar or insulin levels. It can be bitter if you use too much, but in moderation, it adds a beautiful sweetness to coffee, tea, desserts, and chocolate. If your goal is to lead a sugar-free life, definitely try stevia. Start with 1 or 2 drops in water or tea to try it out.
- Use Monk Fruit in desserts: Monk fruit sweetener, also known as Lakanto, has a 1:1 ratio to sugar.It is ultra low glycemic and does not spike insulin levels in diabetics. You can use this as a substitute in your baking and in raw dishes that call for honey, agave or maple syrup. I’m not against honey and maple syrup in small amounts, however, they can be unsafe for diabetics or cancer patients who are determined to heal once and for all.
- Avoid at all costs: Nutrasweet and Sweet and Low, aspartame, sorbitol and malitol as these products are damaging to the body and brain even though they are touted as sugar alternatives.
- Use fruit as dessert
- Low glycemic fruits like green apples, raspberries, blackberries, and blueberries make a great snack. They can be topped with coconut yogurt or nut cream and enjoyed as a dessert.
- Make food at home
- If you do go to a restaurant, ask questions
- Don’t be afraid to ask your waiter or the vendor what is in the food you are ordering. Say something like: “Can you tell me which items are gluten free…dairy free…have olive oil…are sugar-free?” If they don’t know they will usually go ask. Avoid anything fried or breaded. Sauces can contain large amounts of sugar too, so be careful with marinara, Thai sauces and Chinese foods, and even Caesar dressing.
- Read your labels
- Even if you think you already know what is in a product, sometimes ingredients can change depending on the company (they may start adding sugar or agave to make more money).
- Added sugar is in 74% of packaged items. Even non-sweet items. If sugar is listed as one of the first 3 ingredients, put it down.
- I aim for items (if I am buying a drink or chocolate) that have between 0 and 5 grams of sugar per serving. Also remember that the serving size is important. If the package says it has 4 servings, you need to multiply the amount of sugar listed by 4.
- Be aware of the many names for sugar:
- Just say no!
- It might take 2-4 weeks but if you make a choice not to eat sugar or high glycemic foods, your palate will adjust. Take the sweets out and wait. It won’t take that long for foods to start tasting too sweet once you’ve eliminated sugar from your diet.
- Lower sweet cravings naturally
- Believe it or not, fermented foods like sauerkraut and coconut kefir can stop your sugar cravings in their tracks!
- Drink a green juice
- Even though it’s usually the last thing you would think of having when you are craving a sweet snack, green juice works! It makes your body more alkaline and has electrolytes, so it satisfies your body on a cellular level.
- Make 4 bottles of green juice with added lemon juice and store it the fridge. This way, you can always have a cold one right out of the fridge when sweet cravings sneak up on you.
- Get more sleep!
- Getting enough sleep is a popular topic right now and for a good reason. One of the biggest reasons we tend to overeat and crave sugar is due to lack of sleep. Most of us turn to caffeine or crave something sweet as the body attempts to look for energy. Getting 7-8 hours of sleep a night drastically helps with controlling sugar cravings.
Have faith! Once you decide once and for all to eliminate sugar, you are on your way to a healthier, happier you. Your mood, skin, weight and feelings of well-being will begin to improve. If you slip up, just get right back on track at the next meal. Before you know it, sugar will become a thing of the past.