The journey to a healthier life and clearer skin usually begins when sugar consumption is reduced or eliminated. While it’s a known fact that sugar can bring about harmful effects in our lives, not many are aware of how to remove sugar from our daily diet without having to torment ourselves.
In order not to fall into the sugar trap time and again, it’s important to note one thing: Sugar is often hidden! There is a lot more to it than just sweets, the sugar in our coffee or the ones that are found in our cakes and biscuits. The first step to a healthier life and skin is to quickly identify where sugar is often hidden.
Fact: Sugar is Hidden in Most Foods
Sugar can be everywhere in our food, even where we least expect it: Sausages, pickles, yoghurt, muesli, smoothies, juices, sauces, ketchup, bread and even canned food. They don’t taste like gummy bears but usually contain similar amounts of sugar. That is because the role of sugar in most foods is to make it more palatable while improving its flavour and mouthfeel.
Another lesser-known fact is that low-fat products aren’t all that great of an option either. While the amount of “fat” has been reduced in these food items, processed low-fat foods often contain a higher sugar content.
Goodbye Sugar: 6 Tips to Cut on Sugar
Planning a well-balanced diet without falling into the sugar trap is no picnic. You don’t have to forgo sugar immediately, but if you do manage to consume significantly less sugar in the long run, you might just retrain your palate to be healthier. Fruits will taste sweeter again and the general desire for sweetness will decrease! Here are six tips and tricks to embark on a sugar-free life.
1. Recognize Sugar Traps
If you want to reduce or renounce sugar, start studying the list of ingredients in your food. Here’s the tricky part — sugar has many different names and can be in the forms of syrups and concentrates. For a start, these are some ingredients to look out for and potentially avoid:
- Grape sugar
- Glucose, fruit sugar
- Fructose, malt sugar
- Maltose or sucrose
Free tracking apps such as MyFitnessPal offer valuable support in implementing your zero-sugar plan. The app allows you to track your nutrient intake and individual sugar limit.
2. Opt For Unprocessed Foods
Sugar is added to many industrially produced and processed foods, hence try to opt for unprocessed food where possible. Although these foods contain sugar as well — usually in the form of fructose or glucose — unprocessed foods provide valuable macro and micronutrients (e.g. vitamins or fibre) at the same time.
3. Be Prepared
Committing to a low-sugar diet comes with a fair amount of hard work. An ideal situation would be to prep your meals for the week beforehand, so as to avoid eating convenience store products or what we deemed as “fast food”. If your hectic schedule does not allow you to do so, consider prepping healthier snacks like nuts or boiled eggs. This will aid in counteracting spontaneous hunger attacks and you can easily circumnavigate the next fateful walk to the bakery.
4. Pick The Right Time
Easing your way into a well-balanced diet takes time. It’d be wiser to start your diet when you’re not constantly surrounded by temptations like cookies and chocolate. so, the run-up to Christmas may not be the perfect time to get started, neither is the birthday of Aunt Stef, who is the uncrowned queen of baking the best brownies. A better suited time would be when you have a few days off to spend at home. This is the perfect occasion to practise targeted grocery shopping and conscious consumption of food. Who knows, your partner or family can be “influenced” too.
5. Give Your Body Time To Adjust
As much as we hate to say this, you have to be prepared for unpleasant side effects. A sugar detox can bring about certain side effects but there are ways to keep your sugar levels constant. Whole grain products, nuts or almonds are great foods to maintain sugar levels and keep your cravings in check. After a week or so, you’ll start to finally feel your body adapting to your new food habits.
6. Introduce Rewards
Sugar manipulates us. Like many other addictive substances, it activates the “reward system” in our brains, where the brain responds by increasing the release of dopamines when exposed to a rewarding stimulus. You don’t have to forgo rewards if you forgo sugar. Find new ways to reward yourself and engage in it as often as you like!
After all, having completed a full week with no added sugar is indeed worthy of a reward. From professional aesthetic treatments to a special tea or maybe even a scented candle — there are many ways to “reward” yourself. What’s important is that it makes you happy!