Reduce sugar consumption? This can feel impossible – because sugar addiction is very real! I struggled with binge eating on sugar almost every day. In full transparency, those were very challenging times. But I managed to overcome my sugar cravings by reducing sugar intake gradually. In this blog, I want to share 10 top tips that worked for me (and work for my clients) if you also want to eat less processed sugar.
So how much sugar can I have?
The World Health Organisation recommends a maximum of 50g of sugar per day. However, for maximum health benefits, they recommend only 25g per day. So how do I know how much sugar this is? The easiest way is to divide the number of grams of sugar in a product by 4. This will give you the number of teaspoons in that product. (For example 50g divided by 4 = 12 tsp and 25g divided by 4 = 6 tsp).
10 TIPS TO CUT DOWN SUGAR INTAKE
1. Learn to read the labels
Read all the labels when buying processed foods. The first ingredients listed have been used the most. The last ingredients have been used the least. So if sugar is first on the list, you know it is the largest in quantity! Further, look for words that indicate there is sugar in the ingredients (sugar, corn syrup, fructose etc). Also, words that end with ‘OSE’: Fructose, dextrose (these are different words for sugar).
2. Eat wholesome foods to reduce sugar
When we eat wholesome food, we naturally reduce our sugar intake. This is because wholesome food naturally has less sugar. So, if you add lots of legumes, fruit, and vegetables into your diet, you get so many nutrients in your body that you will naturally want to have less food.
3. Don’t drink your calories
Be mindful of the drinks you order. For example, I like to ask for drinks that don’t have any sugar at all. Sometimes instead of ordering a sweet coffee, I ask for ice cubes, a black coffee, and a little bit of milk (and create my own iced coffee). There are many alternatives. If you are ordering drinks in bottles, go back to reading the labels.
4. Don’t get carried away with natural sweeteners
Quite often ‘natural sugars’ get sold to us as the ‘healthy alternatives’ (such as coconut sugar or brown sugar). And while they might have slightly more minerals than processed or bleached white sugar – it is still sugar. ‘Natural sugars’ still operate the same in the brain by feeding the addiction to the dopamine. So I recommend going back to eating wholesome natural foods and integrating more fruit and vegetables into your diet. Roasted carrot for example is delicious and sweet (without the sugar).
5. Add protein to reduce sugar
I recommend adding protein to every meal (15-20g per meal). This will help stabilise your blood sugar and keeps you fuller for longer. For example, if you eat cereal in the morning (full of sugar), your blood sugar will have spiked. Then one hour later it would have dropped. You will find yourself craving more sugar, and wonder ‘Why do I always crave sugar?’. (Protein in every meal solves this problem!)
6. Eat more fat which will help you to eat less sugar
Similar to the concept of extra protein, I recommend adding a little bit of fat to every meal. Again, this will keep you satisfied and fuller for longer. I suggest when you choose your fats, don’t just use oils but also whole sources (as you also get the minerals, vitamins, and fibre content). For example avocado, feta, olives, nuts, seeds, and salmon.
I talk more about this in the video How To Stop Binge Eating At Night Time. Further, I go into much more detail about how, what and when to eat in my Balanced Diet Framework Self-Study Online Program. I also talk about how often to eat as this can also be the reason for your sugar cravings. It’s a framework that is specifically designed for everyone who struggles with food and sugar cravings, but also overeating and binge eating urges.
7. Keep temptations out of the house
It is much harder when our brain sees sugary food. Seeing these alluring treats literally predicts and anticipates that feel-good sensation. Your brain is wanting the hit of dopamine and it tells you ‘go and have it’. So it’s just easier to not keep sugary food in the house. Instead of keeping cakes and biscuits in the house, you could try to only buy them when you have truly appetite for it.
8. Keep low-sugar snacks at home
For example pre-cut fruit and store it in the fridge for snacks. Frozen grapes or frozen bananas can be a satisfying and nourishing snack. I have a FREE sugar free recipe book full of delicious, healthy snacks, and dessert recipes (Download Here).
9. Don’t use sugar to relieve stress
This is a short term solution. It is worth it to find out where the stress is coming from. Do you need to ask for help and support? Do you need to address an issue at work or with family/friends? Furthermore, you can choose to manage stress through meditation, bubble baths, yoga, a dance class, have a walk, call a friend, listen to music, and self-care. Ask yourself, what would really help you – if it was not food?
10. Never say never
Finally, completely denying ourselves merely works against our human psychology. We want what we can’t have. When we restrict ourselves, the ‘forbidden fruit’ becomes more appealing to us, and we start obsessing over it. I personally don’t have processed sugar on a daily basis, nor do I keep chocolate, cakes, or biscuits in the house. However, this does not mean I don’t bake sweet food on the weekends, or eat caramel slice at a cafe, or celebrate a birthday by eating the cake!
Reduce sugar intake with this SUGAR-FREE food list
One of my values when working with clients is to empower them with knowledge so they can make empowered and informed decisions that are right for them. Instead of just giving you a sugar-free food list, here is a PDF for you to download that shows you the Glycemic Index which is a scientific ranking of how the foods we eat affect our blood sugar levels in the 2 or 3 hours after eating. There is no bad or good food as it also depends on how much and how frequent you choose to consume it. Download the FREE Pdf here.
You can reduce sugar intake!
I hope these tips have helped you. Please reach out and share your experiences or let me know if you need any support. Eugenia x
6 KEY STEPS TO END BINGE EATING CYCLE & RELEASE EMOTIONAL WEIGHT
Regain power over food! Binge eating and emotional eating is not a food problem, it is an emotional problem. We can’t rely on will-power to stop binge eating. In this e-book I am addressing the underlying reasons why we use food as a drug and what our body is trying to tell us.