For some of you who grew up in the 80’s, do you remember the days of the yellowy spongy goodness of a cream filled twinkie? What about the hard crust chocolatey shell of the wagon wheel and of course, one of my childhood favourites, a sugar crust top and an apple and raspberry filled pastry, with a very short and unique name, the Creme and Apple Raspberry Passion Flakie…mmmmmm. I know these sugar bombs are still around but most people that I have come across don’t seem to be picking up too many boxes of these treats.
This article isn’t to debate the good and bad of sugar I’ll save that for another post. (Although many health studies have concluded it’s the #1 leading cause of obesity). Many of you have expressed the difficulties of eliminating sugar from your daily diet. I love my sweets too, especially PC Chocolate Chunk cookies so I can empathise with your struggle. Just ask my wife, she’s seen a whole bag of 30 cookies disappear in less than an hour. I recently read a post in the globe and mail about pop consumption is finally heading downwards but for some reason sugar consumption is trending the opposite way.
Why is it almost impossible to entirely cut sugar out of your daily diet?
I will tell you the #1 reason why you struggle to reduce sugar in your diet and share with you my top 5 tested and proven strategies in reducing the consumption of sugar.
When you hear the word sugar, do you automatically visualise the white powdered crystals, candy, pop and mainly junk food? That’s my #1 reason why it’s so hard for you and I to cut down our sugar intake. Salad dressings, soups, breads, tomato sauce and even pepperoni (I was looking for some for our homemade pizza) are just a small number of items which may also contain sugar. After a long day at the office and you’ve worked through your lunch hour, the last thing you’re willing to do is go home, prep your meal and wait for it to cook. You’re more likely to pick up something on the way at your usual pit stop. So when you see grilled chicken salad or tuscan tomato soup, you don’t think of you consuming sugar. But most likely it’s there and that is frustrating!
Don’t be discouraged! I am going to share my 5 tested and proven strategies to reduce sugar in your diet:
- Reduce sugar in drinks. Whether it’s a double double from Tim Horton’s or a green tea latte with one pump of syrup from Starbucks, slowly reduce the amount of sugar over time. Going cold turkey is a challenge for most people, although if you’re able to, that would be triumphant success. Try to reduce the sugar by an amount you’re comfortable with for one week and again by the same amount the week after. After 4 weeks, you will be amazed at how your body will adjust to lower sugar in your daily drinks until you won’t even notice it missing. I will share with you how I eliminated sugar from my coffee this week on my StayFitAnywhere facebook page. Make sure to LIKE my page so you won’t miss it!
- Pack Snacks. Most of you probably don’t have a bag of carrot or celery sticks sitting in your office drawer. If your office was like mine in the past, there are probably a box of muffins or donuts in the staff room tempting you every time you walk by. To satisfy your sugar craving, pack your favourite fruit with you to work. And yes, fruit has natural sugars which some will say you’re still consuming sugar. That will be a further debate for next time why fruits are different from refined sugar. If you’re not into fruit, pick up a bag of trail mix with the small dark chocolate pieces. Once again, don’t eliminate the sugar entirely unless you are able to but slowly reduce it over weeks.
- Devote time to cook real food. Most of you have good intentions of eating well and have a general idea of what contains sugar and what doesn’t. But the only way to be 100% sure is cooking your own meal. This does take time and organization. If you’re struggling to figure out what to make or where to begin, pick up your favourite 3 items to eat in a meal and 2 fragrant spices. There are thousands of recipes online where you will be able to find quick meals utilizing your favourite ingredients. Double the amount of ingredients for a cook once eat twice meals.
- Take 10 seconds to read the nutrition label. Look for the amount of sugar and then the ingredients. The World Health Organisation recommends no more than 24g of sugar per day. Two slices of white bread is about 3g of sugar. You can see how easily you can reach the top limit of 24g. Here is a common list of sugars usually found in processed foods: corn sweetener, corn syrup, dextrose, fructose, fruit juice concentrates, glucose, high-fructose corn syrup, invert sugar, lactose, maltose, malt syrup, raw sugar, sucrose, sugar syrup, cane crystals, cane sugar, palm sugar, crystalline fructose, evaporated cane juice, corn syrup solids, malt syrup.
- Give yourself a realistic sugar quota. Trying to eliminate sugar from a daily diet isn’t the easiest thing. It’s stressful, frustrating and the feeling of guilt after consuming a sugary treat adds to the despair of never achieving the final goal of a sugar free diet. For most, this is unrealistic, so give yourself a break. Start with one meal, if you’re a dessert junkie, focus on reducing the sugar on the dessert or the portion size.
There are many reasons why lowering sugar in your daily diet is beneficial. Fat loss, prevention of type 2 diabetes, leptin resistance, hormonal imbalance and cavities are just a small number of reasons to control your sugar intake. You have to find your own #1 reason of why it is important for you. If you are looking for a more customised approach to your eating habits email firstname.lastname@example.org for an online consultation.
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~ Joe Cheng – BCS, CPT-PTS
Online Health and Fitness Coach