Guest Writer for Wake Up World
You say “sugar” to refer to your loved ones, but there’s nothing affectionate about what too much of the sweet stuff will do to your body. You do well to cut back on this substance considering the rising rates of obesity and Type 2 diabetes.
However, it isn’t easy to remove this stuff from your diet. After all, humans have a sweet tooth of sorts in tastebud form, and manufacturers know this, adding more to sell their products. Here are eight gentle ways to slowly remove sugar from your diet.
Why You Should Remove Sugar From Your Diet
A 2014 study published in JAMA Internal Medicine found an association between high sugar intake and more heart disease deaths. Perhaps their findings weren’t surprising, considering that your liver processes the sweet stuff the same way it does alcohol, converting all that excess energy to fat that can clog your arteries.
Sugar can also upset your body’s pH. This phenomenon explains one reason the substance is so problematic for your teeth. Your enamel can repair itself when you balance your body chemistry, but excess acidity dissolves the protective minerals in your enamel, leading to decay. Some researchers theorize that high acidity in the body could also increase cancer risks.
Excess sugar consumption also contributes to Type 2 diabetes risk. Approximately one out of three Americans already live with prediabetes. If it advances to full-blown disease, their chances of heart and kidney disease significantly increase.
8 Gentle Ways to Slowly Remove Sugar From Your Diet
You can still indulge in the occasional birthday cake slice. However, you can gently reduce your consumption using the following eight methods.
1. Use Agave Nectar in Your Tea
If you live in the desert southwest, you might have agave plants decorating your lawn. These natural wonders are good for more than making tequila — they produce a naturally sweet syrup with several advantages over sugar.
Agave nectar has a low glycemic index, which means it won’t spike your blood sugar. It’s high in vitamin B-6, crucial for pregnant women, and it also contains folate and vitamin K.
2. Use Stevia in Your Coffee
Stevia is several times sweeter than sugar — you don’t need much of it to get the desired effect. It’s considered a zero-calorie food and has a low glycemic index. You can use it the same way you would use an artificial sugar substitute — a single packet may be enough to add the desired hint of sweetness to your morning cup of joe.
3. Try Monk Fruit in Cooking and Baking
Monk fruit grows in select Asian regions, but it rots soon after harvest — you’ll never find the fruit in stores. However, you can find liquid, granulated and powdered extracts that you can substitute for sugar.
Like stevia, monk fruit is several times sweeter than sugar, so you’ll need to adjust the amount you use. Once you get the knack, the flavor is indistinguishable.
4. Flavor Water With Fruit
Do you turn to sugary pops because you can’t tolerate plain water? Give yourself a flavor and vitamin boost without adding any calories by making flavored fruit water. You can find specialty infusing pitchers, but any water bottle will do — although a screen does keep the watermelon seeds from sticking in your straw.
5. Make One Swap a Day
Giving up all of your favorite things at once can make you feel deprived. However, there’s no need to give up everything — every little switch helps. If your Friday treat consists of a sugary frappuccino and a donut, substitute an egg-white bite or opt for a sugar-free latte. You don’t have to surrender both.
6. Learn to Read Labels
You might recognize terms like “sucrose” and “glucose,” but what about “rapadura” or “panela?” Manufacturers have sneaky ways of labeling that can disguise how much of the sweet stuff their products contain. Malt extract, corn syrup and brown rice syrup are other frequently seen terms that conceal added sugar.
7. Add Unique Flavors to Your Diet
Did you miss your tricycle once you took the training wheels off of your “big kids” bike? Of course not. Once you had an acceptable substitute, you didn’t crave the old inferior model.
You can evolve your tastebuds to enjoy the flavors of good-for-you foods. You don’t have to resort to living on green smoothies — honestly, the appearance is enough to turn the stomach of all but the most diehard health aficionados.
However, start experimenting when you cook by using exotic fruits and vegetables like cherimoya and African cucumber. It will take some trial and error, but once your tastebuds evolve, you’ll wonder how you ever tolerated all that junk.
8. Brush Your Teeth
What do you do if someone offers you a glass of orange juice right after you brush your teeth in the morning? You probably turned up your nose in disgust.
Use this principle to help you cut back on your late-night sugar consumption. Doctors recommend brushing twice daily, making one a thorough cleanse, including floss and rinse. Make a rule that once you do this in the evening, you’re done eating for the day.
Slowly Remove Sugar From Your Diet These 8 Ways
It’s challenging to give up the sweet stuff — your taste buds love it. However, you can slowly remove sugar from your diet using the above eight methods, and you should if you value your health.
Also by Kara Reynolds:
About the author:
Kara Reynolds is the Editor-in-Chief and founder of Momish Magazine. Mom, stepmom, and wife – Kara wants to normalize big blended families. She enjoys pilates, peanut butter, and pinot grigio – but not at the same time.