[David Dack is a running coach and fitness author. When he’s not training, he’s doing research and trying to help as many people as possible via his blog. Check out his work at Runners Blueprint for more info.]
Sugar is one of the worst ingredients in the modern-day diet. The stuff contains no protein, no healthy fats, no fiber, no minerals, only empty and rapidly digested calories.
That’s not the whole story.
Research has found clear links between excessive sugar intake and a plethora of health conditions such as obesity, diabetes, cancer, strokes, etc.
Research also reported that we’re consuming more sugar than ever. The American Heart Association stated that the average American consumes three times over the recommended daily intake of the sweet stuff.
In other words, we’re consuming too much sugar, and now it’s time to curb down.
In this article, I’ll share with you six science-backed strategies to help you curb your sugar intake right now without losing your sanity in the process.
Let’s get started.
Remove it From Your House
If your fridge, pantry, or desk draw, are full of junk food, you’ll, sooner or later, reach out for it. This is especially the case following a stressful day when willpower is at its lowest.
In fact, you’re more likely to treat yourself to unhealthy food when a bag of cookies or chocolate bar is nearby.
Research backs this up. A study found that people who keep junk food in their house are more likely to experience weight problems.
Here’s what you need to do. Go through your kitchen and all of your “secret” departments and toss away as many unhealthy items as possible. Get rid of all the candy, chocolate, cookies, pop tars, soda, and other junk food. Declare your house a junk-food-free zone and aim to keep it that way.
Swap it out
Having healthier alternatives on hand can be quite helpful, especially if you get hungry between meals or late at night.
This is what I call smart snacking, and it’s the way to go to not only curb your sugar cravings but also help meet your daily nutritional needs. Healthy snacks can leave you feeling sated and satisfied.
Some of the best snacks to keep at home include
- Pre-chopped vegetables
- Nuts with no added sugar or salt
- Low-fat yogurt
- Dried seaweed.
Stop Drinking Calories
Of course, don’t take my word for it. Research published in the American Journal of Public Health revealed a strong link between soda intake and a high risk for heart obesity, heart disease, diabetes, and other severe condition.
And it isn’t just one study. Many other research papers have come to similar conclusions. Examples include
That’s not the whole story. Just like any other form of sugar, we’re also gulping down too much liquid candy.
The National Institute of Health reported that soda is the third largest source of calories in the modern diet.
Not convinced? Let’s look at the numbers.
Your average 12-ounce soda can pack eight or more teaspoons of sugar, depending on the brand. That’s more than 140 calories from sugar alone. You’ll need to run 1.5 miles to burn off those extra calories.
Still don’t get it? one can of soda equals:
- Four Tim tams
- One cup of ice cream
- Four large peaches
- Three English muffins
I can go on and on, but I guess you get the picture. And yes, it’s not a good picture. At. All.
Choose unsweetened iced tea or sparkling water with fruit essence. You can also make your flavor water by adding fruit, cucumber, or mint to the water.
Or, better all, go for water. It’s calorie-free and good for you.
Eat Non-Starchy Vegetables
Everybody knows that vegetables are good for you. After all, they’re a fantastic source of nutrients and fiber.
But when it comes to sugar content, not all veggies are created equal. That’s why vegetables are divided into two main categories: starchy and non-starchy.
Starchy veggies pack in a lot of carbs, which may increase your blood sugar levels. This, in turn, makes you crave more sugar—and thus, a vicious cycle begins.
Examples of starchy vegetables include beets, carrots, tomatoes, sweet potatoes, peas, lima beans, corn, yams, etc.
On the other hand, non-starchy veggies are usually pack in fewer carbs, thus sugar, than their counterparts. They also have a lot of fiber, so they can keep you feeling full for longer.
Some of the healthiest options include:
- Brussel sprouts
- Salad greens
- Baby corn
- Bamboo shoots
- Swiss chard
Not everything you need to do to curb sugar intake has to be a food choice. Your sleep habits also impact your foot choices.
Plenty of studies have shown that sleep debt is linked to an increase in appetite. One example is research out of the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism that found that sleep deprivation decreases leptin, our satiety hormone, while increasing Ghrelin, our hunger hormone. This, of course, will set you up for eating more than you should.
This could explain why you might feel hungrier, despite having a full meal, following a row of sleepless or bad sleep nights.
Research has also found a strong link between sleep duration and elevated body mass index. In short, the fewer hours you spend in bed, the more likely you’ll find it hard to lose weight or maintain a healthy weight.
For these reasons (and some more), aim to make sleep a priority. Sleep needs vary from one person to the other but as a rule, shoot for at least seven to nine hours per night. Short naps during the daytime, especially after lunch, help, too.
According to a naturopathic doctor in Scottsdale, you can get the most out of your sleep by doing the following:
- Seek help from a naturopathic doctor to improve your sleep hygiene
- Start exercising on a regular basis. Workouts plans, such as running, have been shown to help.
- Avoid caffeine or heavy eating in the hours before going to be
- Avoid bright colors and screens in the hour before going to bed.
- Sleep in a completely dark and quiet room.
- Build the habit of going to bed and waking up at the same time every day.
- Read, meditate or do any other unwinding activities to help you into a relaxed mode.
Become A Label Detective
Cutting sugar is hard for many reasons—one is the fact that the stuff is so pervasive. It’s everywhere.
Again, don’t take my word for it. A survey reported that out of 600,000 food products examined, roughly 80 percent had added sugar in them in one form or the other.
It’s not easy to spot sugar in these food products. Over the past few years, the food industry has devised many ways to disguise sugar into daily food products.
Why companies are doing this is no secret. They want your money, and if they put sugar on food labels, that’s bad for their business.
But it’s not hopeless. Here’s what you need to do.
Build the habit of regularly reading the ingredient labels on food products before purchasing an item. Keep in mind that added sugar hides in plain sight and gets masqueraded under other names such as:
- Organic cane sugar
- Dried cane syrup
- Brown rice syrup
- Maple syrup
- Fructose corn syrup
- Fruit juice concentrate
If, after inspecting a food label, you find more one of the above, then that food should be off-limit.