Recently, scientists came out with a study that showed the sugar industry paid food scientists years ago to attribute America’s heart disease and weight gain issues to fats over sugars. This led to an onslaught of “low-fat” products emerging on grocery store shelves; but to even out the taste of these foods, the industry took away fat, but added sugar.
Now, studies galore show that sugar isn’t so great for us, and many attribute it in part to the many diseases plaguing American society. And it’s easy to see why this substance is so addicting: when you eat the sweet stuff, your blood sugar levels spike, resulting in a burst of energy – only to be followed by a crash. To combat this crash, your body craves more sugar, creating a never-ending cycle of sugar intake.
So how, exactly, can you limit your sugar consumption? Cutting out sweets is a great first step (think: ice cream, baked goods, soda), but sugar hides in even the most unsuspecting places. Grocery store salad dressings, sauces, and yogurts are teeming with the stuff.
In order to decrease this sugar intake once and for all, your body needs to learn to live without it. To start this process, choose three days of your week, and promise not to eat any foods with more than 15 grams of sugar per serving. It’s important to look at the labels here, because as we mentioned before, sugar is lurking in even the most savory dishes.
When we’re demonizing sugar, we’re talking about added sugars: those that are purposely added to foods that once did not have sugar. Fruits like apples, oranges, and watermelons are also high in sugar, but it’s natural sugar, and is often paired with good-for-you ingredients like heart-healthy fiber. Eating a piece of fruit is different than a piece of cake, for example, because the fiber in fruit slows down how quickly the sugars are digested by your system, avoiding that aforementioned sugar crash.
You may notice when you’re cutting down sugar that you feel lethargic, groggy, or get consistent headaches. That makes sense – your body is detoxing from the sugar you normally take in! To replace this sweet substance, fill your diet with other foods you enjoy, particularly healthy fats like nuts, avocados, or other filling proteins. Whatever foods keep you fuller, longer are the ones you want to pack into your diet for these three days.
Cooking your own meals also ensures you know exactly how much sugar you’re putting into your food. Take these three days to consume mostly pure fruits, vegetables, meats, grains, and dairy. A good rule of thumb: shop the periphery of the supermarket. These foods are often the freshest and contain no added sugars (except perhaps the yogurt section – always read the labels on those babies).
Once you’re through with the three-day period, take the next step and try limiting your sugar consumption to a total of 25-30 grams per day. This is a realistic goal to hit throughout your daily life and can seriously make you feel like a new person. Once you’re through with that three-day, low-sugar period, you’re going to feel amazing – we promise!
It might be really hard. You might experience headaches and fatigue – signs your body is literally detoxing – but after that, it will be amazing!
Luckily, the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) is making limiting sugar a bit easier: starting in 2018, nutrition labels will be required to include a breakdown of both the total sugars and a separate row for added sugars, so you have a better sense as to what exactly you’re putting into your body.
Try limiting sugar in your diet this week, and let us know how it goes. We believe in you!