Okay, so we’ve (mostly) all been there. I want to eat healthier. I really shouldn’t have that dessert. I need to cut down on my sugar intake. Okay, I’ll have this piece of cake and then I’ll cut down on sugar. A sugar habit can be really difficult to break. It can be one of the hardest things to give up and you may beat yourself up for not having “stronger willpower” to just follow-through on the plan you made to avoid it earlier that week, day or hour. Why is it so hard? Here I’ll share some tips to kick your sugar habit for good that will leave you with more energy without feeling deprived.
Get Off the Roller Coaster
One of the first steps to helping yourself stay off sugar is to get off the blood sugar roller coaster. When you consume something that raises your blood sugar significantly (as white sugar does), you experience a temporary energy high followed by an inevitable crash. When your energy levels crash, your body responds by telling you it needs more carbohydrates to use as fuel for energy. The problem is that you don’t naturally respond by giving your body the energy it needs with a carrot or a bowl of oatmeal. You crave more sugar. In recent years, white sugar has been compared to cocaine for the way it affects your brain and with good reason. Once you have it, it creates a physiological response that makes you want more. The answer? Kick it to the curb in all its sneaky forms.
It’s a not-so-hidden secret that sugar is in everything nowadays. Can you count the number of items in your kitchen that have added sugar in them? Try your yogurt (which can have more sugar than ice cream per serving), your granola bar (which can have more added sugar than a Krispy Kreme donut), or your store-bought soup, salad dressing, alternative milk beverage, bread, crackers, condiments and healthy cereal. There are often loads of added sugar in these products and others that you’re not even aware you’re consuming. So start becoming familiar with the ingredient lists of the products you buy because you can’t kick it to the curb if you don’t know you’re consuming it.
Some examples of how sugar can be labeled are: sucrose, maltose, dextrose, fructose, glucose, high fructose corn syrup and cane syrup. I recommend avoiding all of these.
Choose Healthier Alternatives
All that being said, I would probably never be able to avoid sugar if I didn’t feel I could still indulge my sweet tooth. I can and I do, but with healthier sweeteners that are much gentler on my blood sugar. I still make fudge brownies, enjoy ice cream and never miss an opportunity to have chocolate, and I don’t feel deprived but also can be satiated with a moderate portion because my body doesn’t crave more and more.
If healthier sweeteners are new to you, I recommend experimenting with a few and then expanding your repertoire. My favourites are coconut palm sugar when I want a granulated sugar. I replace ordinary sugar 1:1 with it in any recipe; and coconut nectar/syrup or pure maple syrup for a liquid sweetener. I should add that just because something is “healthier” doesn’t mean it’s healthful, and therefore okay to eat a whole batch of brownies just because they were made with agave nectar and not white sugar. Be moderate.
Build Your Support System
Whenever my clients are starting a new lifestyle habit, I usually ask them, What kind of support do you need in order to do this? This is probably one of the most important factors in any lifestyle change because we all need support to maintain something new to us, whether it be from other people, our environment or both. It’s really hard to give up sugar when your mom pops over with some cupcakes she lovingly bought for you, or your friend gifts you a box of chocolates. You end up feeling guilty for either declining the generous gesture or accepting it. The only way those in your life will know how to support you is if you explain to them why you’re doing what you’re doing and how they can help. You might be surprised to learn how often people are willing to help if they understand the why and the how. So take some time to sit down with those in your life and have a conversation about how they can support your health goals.
If you want to learn more about how to build a support system, feel free to sign up for a Free Health Chat with me.
Here are a couple of yummy dessert recipes to get you started.
These Black Bean Brownies are super easy and tasty. The added protein and fibre really help to stabilize your blood sugar and the cocoa masks the bean flavour. I replace the cane sugar with coconut sugar (of course).
This 4-ingredient Pumpkin Pie is soooo good, it’s one of my favourites. I find it a little too sweet though, so you can try reducing the amount of maple syrup or experimenting with coconut nectar.
These Salted Almond Butter Squares are kept in the freezer as a nice little ready-to-enjoy treat. They are yum!
What’s your sugar story? Have you tried to kick the habit? Have you experimented with healthier sweeteners? Got any further questions? Share your thoughts in the comments below.