Sugar and Its Effects
So many of my clients ask me “How can I eat less sugar?”
It seems like sugar-bashing is all the rage lately. Sugar-less diets and detoxes are everywhere, but I want to tell you something: Sugar isn’t evil. And trying to quit it 100% by using willpower can be super stressful and actually…isn’t necessary.
Having said that, let’s look deeper at sugar and its effects on our bodies.
Consuming excessive sugar, natural or not, is not good for your health. Yet we have a taste bud for sweet so we were designed for sweet things. What happens, though, is that you may find yourself eating far too much sugar. So what it boils down to is: how much matters.
The American Heart Association recommends 32 g or less for men, and 24 g or less for women of added sugars. If you look at coconut water (something that depending on the brand can be quite healthy), you’ll see that one can contain 24 g of added sugar! If you were to drink that entire can, you’d have reached your daily allotment of sugar already. Sugar can be sneaky so it is best that you’re informed.
Instead of white-knuckling it to quit sugar, these are my favorite tips to answer your question “How can I eat less sugar” AND have a better relationship with sweet.
Five tips to reduce sugar intake
- Read food labels. How much added sugar does this product contain per a serving and how many servings are you consuming? Be aware.
- Build Campfire Meals to balance your blood sugar levels and help prevent physical sugar cravings.
- Avoid artificial sugars. Artificial sweeteners can actually cause you to crave even more sugar and cause a cascade of negative metabolic effects in your body.
- Look Deeper. What’s going on when you crave certain foods?
Is there an emotional need you’re trying to fill? Notice if you crave sugar when you need more “sweetness” in your life. Next time you find yourself in the midst of a sugar craving, pause for a moment and bring more awareness to this craving. What are you feeling? What was going on in your day before this craving hit? TO DO: Practice the “pause strategy” to help you gain insight and begin to break the emotional need for sugar. My ultimate goal with clients is to find new ways to fulfill this emotion besides food, drink, excess shopping or whatever you tend to lean on. We all need a variety of coping mechanisms in our toolbox.
- Feeling badly about eating sugar and 100% restricting it is not the answer for 99% of us. In fact, it could be causing your cravings. Nothing intensifies a craving like restriction. When we practice the above tools, and re-learn how to Eat Intuitively, by listening to the physical sensations coming from our body instead of outside diet culture rules, we can have a healthy and happy relationship with food and our bodies.
The “How can I eat less sugar” main takeaways
- In general, be aware of the recommended levels of sugar for adults. Eat balanced meals and snacks in which something sweet can absolutely be included!
- It’s completely OK and natural to enjoy dessert. Remember that sometimes restriction can make us want it more. And stressing about sugar can be worse for our health than anything on our plates.
- We were designed with a sweet taste bud and we’re meant to have sweetness in our lives. Ask yourself: Are you getting enough sweetness out of life that has nothing to do with food?
- You’re human (and life is too dang short) to avoid sweets completely. Relax, slow down, savor your ice cream cone, your birthday cake! All foods can fit in a healthy diet. Healthy eating isn’t “perfect” eating. It’s about what you eat for the most part, over time.
The key is to be mindful of the amount and quality of of sugars you’re generally consuming and how food choices or emotions may be driving your cravings.
Have a question about sugar, need help getting to the root cause of your sugar cravings? Reach out!