We’ve all heard about how too much sugar can impact health:
- Weight gain
- Insulin resistance with increased risk type 2 diabetes
- High LDL cholesterol and increase risk of heart disease
- Hormonal imbalances and PCOS
- Energy dips
- Poor concentration and memory
- Tooth decay and gum disease
Here are my top tips for reducing sugar in your diet and to reducing cravings:
1. Read labels
Sugar can be found in foods you would not believe, like pasta sauces, sausage, granola, and frozen meals. Sugar can also come in many different forms and go by many different names:
2. Avoid soda and fruit juices
Soda and fruit juices are loaded with refined sugar and empty calories. As an alternative, drink water, sparkling water with lime or lemon, or coconut water.
3. Have protein and healthy fats at each meal.
Both protein and fat aid your body in balancing blood sugar and act as slow release energy sources which help to reduce sugar cravings.
Healthy protein sources include:
- Free-range eggs
- Grass-fed beef
- Organic Chicken and turkey
- Wild fish
- Whole, organic plain yogurt
- Beans and lentils
- Tahini and hummus
- Coconut oil
- Olive Oil and olives
- Nuts and Seeds
4) Increase fiber.
Fiber helps you to feel fuller longer and it also aids in slowing the release of sugar into the blood stream. This is one reason why fructose, the sugar from fruit, is different from refined sugars. Fruit naturally contains fiber which supports the body in breaking down the fructose and releasing it more slowly for more balanced blood sugar levels.
Quality sources of fiber include:
- Ground flaxseed
- Brussels sprouts
- Beans & Lentils
- Winter squash
5. Avoid artificial sweeteners
Artificial sweeteners are made from chemicals that mimic the flavor of sugar. Not only are these chemicals potentially harmful to your body, but these sweeteners may also affect the body’s ability to regulate blood sugar and promote weight gain. Sweeteners have also been found to increase cravings for sweet foods rather than satisfy these cravings. Using spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and cardamom can naturally sweeten foods while reducing cravings.
6. Indulge your cravings with healthy alternatives
If you have an overwhelm craving for something sweet reach for one of the following:
- Dates or figs and a handful of walnuts
- Apple or banana and a handful of almonds
- A handful of cashews
- Roasted winter squash or root vegetables
- A square of 85% dark chocolate
Beating a sugar habit can be done by paying attention to ingredients and by eating more whole foods daily.