No dairy, no caffeine, no sugar, no fat – it sounds like a coffee ordering nightmare! Although restrictive diets may seem like the “easy” way to drop some weight, they are more likely to dip into your reserves of willpower. This causes you to crave whatever you’re restricting yourself from even more than usual.
Of all the things to remove from your diet, why do we recommend kicking your sugar habit more than anything else? Because the way sugar affects your body is pretty scary. Could you cut out added sugar entirely for one week? How about a whole month?
Natalie Rizzo, a dietitian for Greatist, actually gave it a try. While skeptical at first, she was willing to see how being diligent about restricting her sugar intake would change her health and her life. Here are a few things that she learned while cutting out sugar for 30-days:
- A LOT of things you don’t expect to contain sugar.
Cookies? Duh. Crackers? Wait – what!? You’d be appalled at the number of foods you eat on a regular basis contain added sugars. Check those labels.
- A product may not exactly say it contains “sugar”.
There are about 56 different terms that mean the exact same thing as sugar on your nutrition label. Be aware, and don’t be fooled!
- Naturally sweet foods are a great replacement for sugar cravings.
Topping your oatmeal with fresh fruit will satisfy that sweet tooth with vitamins, antioxidants, and fiber.
- Foods that don’t even taste sweet can contain sugar.
Have we hammered it home yet? Read your labels!
- Cooking at home makes it easier to control.
Since you’re a pro at reading labels now, you can better control how much sugar goes into the food you make at home.
- Eating at restaurants can be challenging.
With a lack of access to nutrition information, it’s hard to know how much sugar is in your food when dining out. There are ways to make educated choices though!
- Removing sugar creates room for healthier foods.
When you aren’t filling up on the sugary processed stuff, your only other option is to eat more fresh and nutrient-dense foods.
- Beverages are a big place where sugar likes to hide.
We have a perfect solution for this one.
- Everything in moderation.
Our bodies are always trying to find balance. You may find more success by first cutting back on sugar, then gradually removing it completely after that.
The takeaway is this: making small changes is the best way to sustain healthy habits in the long-term. Completely removing sugar from your diet and going cold-turkey will make you crave it even more, and doing poorly one day will make you less motivated to continue the next. Although a 30-day cleanse is a great way to jump-start your body with a good foundation of nutrition, it’s important to take gradual small steps towards big changes in the long run.
[Credit: Rizzo, Natalie. “A Month Without Sugar: One Dietitian’s Day-by-Day Tell-All.” Greatist.]