Two packets of sugar in your coffee, a drizzle of honey on your toast, or an iced tea at your local coffee shop; what do those have in common? The short answer is they all contain a fair amount of sugar. The long answer requires a good debate that circulates around the standard American diet.
Throughout the previous few decades, Americans have become dependent on sugar to make foods and beverages taste better. However, sugar consumption has skyrocketed so much that adults (and now more children) are becoming obese with type 2 diabetes and other health conditions, possibly due to an increase in sugar consumption. How much has the issue skyrocketed in recent years and does it really affect you and your health?
Sugar intake in the American diet is of great concern. Current guidelines suggest that adults (and now children) should have a healthy diet that includes no more than 10 percent of the overall calories from sugar. The American Heart Association recommends that women consume no more than 25 grams of added sugar (meaning sugar that’s not found naturally in foods like fruit) a day. And most top authorities recommend that adults and children should sparingly consume sugar as a way to prevent health conditions from popping up, suggesting that individuals should kick the habit.
So how much sugar is the average adult actually consuming? The most recent data on the American diet and sugar intake suggests that adults over the age of 20 years consumed 13 percent of their daily calories from sugar, or about 260 calories each day when the standard 2,000 calorie diet is used. In addition, individuals under the age of 19 (including children) consumed higher amounts of sugar, with up to 16 percent of daily calories coming from sugar. If you look at this in a more concise manner, the standard diet should include no more than 2,000 calories. If the standard adult consumes 13 percent of sugar in this diet, that equals 260 calories. There are four calories per gram of sugar, so when you do the math, this means that each day, the standard adult consumes 65 grams of sugar, which is more than 16 teaspoons. This is quite staggering and since the statistics are an average, there are many out there who consume much more than this, which can be easy to do when foods and beverages are laden with hidden sugars. Also, many adults tend to eat more calories than what is recommended each day, so this 260 calorie estimate may be understating the issue.
Now that you have some information on sugar and how common it is to over consume this nutrient, what are some things that you can do to kick the habit? What is your motivation to even stop in the first place? For many adults, to quit sugar is a necessity for health concerns such as in diabetes (although diabetics need some sugar to regulate blood glucose levels), cancer, and heart disease. In addition, quitting sugar is a great idea for anyone looking to lose a few pounds or anyone looking to naturally boost energy levels to feel great. With that said, what is your motivation? Listed ahead are 21 tips on how to stop eating sugar, cut the sugar cravings from your daily life, and how to boost your weight loss journey.
21 Tips on How to Stop Eating Sugar for Good
1. Know Your Sources
One of the first tips that individuals can use to cut sweets for good is to do some quick research on the foods that are going into the body. If the food you purchase in your local grocer comes in a package that is produced from a company, then you will see a nutrition label. Nutrition labels are required by the Food and Drug Administration and they must state the total calories, fat, carbs, and protein, in addition to four vitamins and minerals. The best thing to start with anything you eat that has a label is to look at how much sugar is in each serving. They are usually found under the carbohydrates section and it will state “sugar” on the label. This number includes both added sugar and those occurring naturally, but most manufacturers are rolling out new labels that separate out the added sugars.
2. Avoid High-Fructose Corn Syrup
Though This product originally came from fructose, during the manufacturing process, more fructose is added to the original fructose, which makes an already potent form of sugar even more powerful. High-fructose corn syrup quickly rose in popularity in the 1990s and early 2000s since it was a cheap alternative as a sweetener. It was placed in sodas, breads, and other foods you may not expect to be sweetened. However, the large spike in the consumption of this sweetener quickly gave rise to higher obesity rates and especially with type 2 diabetes. Though some companies have tried removing it from their manufacturing processes, it’s still commonly found in processed foods because it’s so cheap. If you want optimal weight loss and generally feel better by kicking sugar from your diet then you should consider reading all food labels or researching a certain product to see if high-fructose corn syrup is present.
3. Start the Day Off the Right Way
Breakfast is the first meal of the day, and for a majority of adults, this is usually one of the quickest ways to get off to a bad start. The first meal of the day is touted as being one of the most important for your health, energy levels, and for feeding your brain. However, breakfast foods are typically ridden with sugar. Think about what typical breakfasts contain: bagels, donuts, waffles, pancakes, French toast, berries, yogurts, bananas, and English muffins. The one thing they all have in common (other than containing carbs) is that each of those foods contains sugar. Making healthy decisions should start first thing in the morning and cutting out the foods that contain sugar is the best start you can have. Be mindful that most flavored yogurts, even if the container label says it is healthy, contain a lot of hidden sugar to make it taste better.
4. To Fruit or Not to Fruit
There is a wide debate on whether or not fruit is good or bad when you’re trying to cut sugar. The concern is that fruit contains fructose, which is a type of sugar that is quickly processed in your body and can cause insulin spikes. However, this is natural sugar and your body needs some to survive, right? This is where some of the confusion lies; consuming large amounts of fructose can set you back in your journey to finally cut sugar from your diet. That’s because eating sugar makes you crave more sugar. But that doesn’t mean you should cut fruit out of your diet. Fruit contains a lot of antioxidants and minerals that your body needs to fight off infections and stay healthy, so you want to eat up to 2 to 3 pieces of fruit a day, but no more than that.
5. Vegetables for Breakfast
Similar to fruits, vegetables contain a great amount of fructose per serving, but with lower amounts. This is why vegetables are definitely a preferable option when trying to steer toward a no sugar diet. Typically, vegetables are reserved for lunches or dinners, but there is no rule that you should not eat veggies to start your day. Consider having an egg white omelette in the morning that is loaded with fresh vegetables to make it a healthy option. Not interested in omelettes? Consider a veggie smoothie (as long as you’re not adding a ton of fruit or flavored yogurt) or healthy veggie bake to make this option more appealing. The idea here is to begin your day off on the best foot, and consuming foods that do not contain additional sugar is a great start.
6. Avoid Fruit Juices
The logic is that if fruit is healthy for you then why not drink the juice ? The reason this is not the best option is because many fruit juices are loaded with added sugars. This is one area where you need to carefully read food labels and not rely on marketing for your information because most fruit juices have sugar listed as an ingredient. If you must drink fruit juices, consider finding 100 percent fruit juice options, which means the only ingredient listed is the juice of the fruit. Most importantly, whenever possible, skip on drinking your calories and instead eat the raw food. Yes fruit contains fructose, but the additional fiber content helps to slow down the absorption of the sugar, and you consume a lot less sugar if you eat it as whole fruit instead of in juiced form.
7. Natural Aids
Sometimes it is necessary to get help to block some of the sugar cravings you may be having. After years of consuming high amounts of sugar, your brain has adapted to a large amount of this nutrient; now that you are looking to quit sugar, it may be tough to fight the cravings. Fortunately, science has caught on to this and products are available to make the process a bit easier for you. A lozenge has been shown to reduce sugar cravings. Containing extracts from the Gymnema sylvestre plant, this lozenge blocks the signals to your brain that cause sugar cravings. Similarly, you can consider a no-sugar diet to assist in you cutting sugar. Sugar detox methods are gaining popularity and if you are interested in this method to quit sugar then consider taking a look at this article here for more information.
8. Cut Out Simple Carbohydrates
Carbs are an essential part of your diet, and while excess sugar can be a health issue, cutting sugar out of your diet is not the same as cutting all carbs. However, most forms of simple carbs include nothing but refined sugars. Typically, these simple carbs and refined sugar products can be found in the candy, cookie, and crackers aisle and this should be something you should avoid. Simple carbs and refined sugars can spike your blood sugar levels as well as insulin in your body, which can cause lethargy and weight gain. For anyone looking to be healthy with optimal weight loss, this should be a no brainer, and the sooner you cut the simple carbs and refined sugars from your diet the better. If you love carbs, add more whole grains to your diet like brown rice, farro, and oats, as well as fresh veggies.
9. Say Goodbye to Sodas
Soda companies have been under scrutiny for decades now. This is because sodas contain high-fructose corn syrup in most of their regular beverages. However, the diet options contain powerful sugar substitutes that can trick your mind into wanting sweeter foods and drinks. Interestingly, current statistics on soda consumption suggests that close to half of all added sugar in the diet comes from sodas, which is quite staggering. For this reason, consider skipping these altogether in your journey to quitting sugar. If you enjoy the carbonation of sodas, consider consuming seltzer water with a squeeze of lemon or a spoonful of fresh fruit juice. The key to stopping soda consumption is to fight the habit, but the caffeine content in sodas does not make it easy to quit.
10. Be Mindful of Coffees and Teas at Coffee Shops
It is now known that many coffee shops add sugar to their product, which obviously makes them taste better. However, when you look into the nutrition information on many commercial coffee shop options, you may find that many coffees and teas contain upwards of 40 grams of sugar added to the beverage. This is quite high considering the standard diet should have less than 50 grams per day. If you are cutting sugar out of your life for good, you will need to have an idea of what has sugar when you go to these local coffee shops. Consider ordering your coffee and tea with no sugar or sweetener added at all and if that is not possible, consider a different option. An alternative would be to brew your own coffee or tea from your home, which could also save you some money as well.
11. Eat More Protein
Protein is another vital nutrient that your body needs to heal, grow, and rejuvenate each day. If you are looking to cut sugar in an effort to lose weight then eating more protein will be something that you could consider. Raw protein in your diet can help to promote a greater fullness factor by stimulating the body to release satiety hormones. As a result, this can prevent overeating as well as help you feel fuller for longer. More protein in your diet can help to curb sugar cravings and addiction and it can be critical in weight loss. In a similar manner to staying full, protein helps to keep your mind and blood sugar levels under control, so that you don’t have a midday binge on chocolate or soda. Consider eating more lean protein options such as fresh salmon, halibut, tilapia, chicken, and tofu to gain the valuable benefit.
12. Avoid More Than Just Sugar
It may be tricky trying to cut out sugar from your diet, but it’s easier once you have a better understanding of all the foods that have added sweeteners. Honey, molasses, maple syrup, agave nectar, and cane syrup are all different terms for some form of sugar. What this means is that if you are cutting sugar from your diet, you should avoid these forms of sugar as well. Plus, honey and molasses contain more calories per serving than sugar. Consider your previous breakfast options: pancakes, orange juice, maple syrup, and berries on the side; seems quite healthy right? To an extent it could be considered healthy, but this is a sugar-laden meal that probably contains your entire day’s worth of sugar in one sitting.
13. Grocery Shopping and Meal Planning When Full
One of the best ways to cut out sugar cravings is to go to the grocery store on a full stomach, preferably right after eating a meal. Not only will shopping on a full stomach help to save a bit of money in your budget, but it can also help to save on the sugar consumption. A good amount of sugar binges happens when hunger is increased, so consider avoiding this altogether. In addition, if you plan your meals throughout the week, consider meal planning after a meal to avoid the temptation of planning meals that are savory and comforting in your mind. Lastly, if you can absolutely avoid it, try to prevent trips to the grocery store after a hard day at work, as the temptation to give in to comfort foods is highest at this point.
14. Prepare All of Your Meals at Home
It is tempting to throughout the week to join coworkers and friends for a lunch or dinner out. After all, a meal out is a great way to socialize and to catch up with friends, but the temptation to consume sugar could be high when eating out in a restaurant. Many restaurants prepare foods with sugar and you may not even know it, which is why it is important to prepare all of your meals at home as much as possible. In addition, many places that offer healthy and refreshing salads for lunch may even have high amounts of fat, sodium, and sugar in the dressing, so keep this in mind whenever you are eating out.
15. Avoid Alcohol
This is a hard tip for adults to cope with because alcohol is a way to socialize and unwind from the usual daily routines. However, alcohol and alcoholic beverages typically contain high amounts of sugar. Beer, mixed drinks, and straight alcohol all are bad options when cutting sugar from your diet, but the consequences once your inhibitions are lowered can get you as well. If you are quitting sugar as a way to lose weight, cutting alcohol can certainly boost your efficiency and it can help to show your results in a quicker manner as well. Not to mention, cutting alcohol will help to keep you honest in the gym and can work wonders on your skin health as well.
16. Skip Dried Fruit
Fruit may be a preferable alternative to other sweet foods, but if you are going to eat fruit, consider skipping on the dried version. Many dried fruits contain added sugar as a way to improve the taste and maintain better stability during storage. If dried fruit is something you enjoy eating, consider giving it a break while you are quitting sugar altogether and consider the whole, fresh fruit as an alternative.
17. Sugar Substitutes When Cooking
If you are preparing your food at home and are in a baking mood, consider swapping your white table sugar for something healthier. This does not mean a sugar substitute, but rather a substitute for the sugar you will use during cooking. One of the most common substitutes for sugar in cooking includes unsweetened applesauce. Many baking recipes are heavily sweetened and can tack on hundreds of calories without even trying, but the use of unsweetened applesauce will help to add flavor without adding the harmful calories. If this is a method you want to try then consider unsweetened applesauce and make sure to read the food label prior to purchasing.
18. Swap Out Sauces for Tomatoes
Adding tomatoes to the recipe instead of red sauce can help to fight off additional sugar in your diet. Many store-bought sauces contain sugar sweeteners to enhance the flavor, but they typically are quite high in sugar content. For this reason, making a substitute from sauce to tomatoes can dramatically reduce the amount of sugar you eat at your meal and it can save on the calories you consume. If sauce is something you absolutely need for a recipe then you can make yours from scratch. Add your fresh tomatoes, seasonings, and fresh basil to make this a healthier recipe without sacrificing your health.
19. Set your Goals
Setting goals is a major component in your motivation to quitting sugar altogether. When you first decide to cut sugar from your diet, it is important to set realistic goals to help you to achieve success. However, your goal of cutting out sugar should be more detailed than simply stating “stop eating sugar.” Instead, consider making five or six smaller goals that can help you achieve the bigger goal, which is to quit sugar. The smaller goals should be personalized to your lifestyle and current diet and if you have a particular weakness, this is a great place to combat that specific weakness. The idea is to make your goal setting as honest as possible so that you can win the battle.
20. Be Aware of Milk and Milk Alternatives
Milk is a beverage that offers many nutrients that can support your health and wellness. It contains protein, carbohydrates, and fat (unless it is fat-free). In addition, milk contains lactose, which is a sugar. For many people out there, lactose intolerance and allergy means that milk may not be for them, which leads them to switch to milk alternatives. The popularity of milk alternatives has risen in recent years, and part of it is because many of these options do not include lactose. However, some milk alternatives such as almond milk and coconut milk contain some sugar as a way to make it taste better, but the good news there are sugar-free or unsweetened options. Consider purchasing the unsweetened milk alternatives whenever possible as a way to cut out the amount of sugar in your diet.
21. Get More Sleep
Sleep is one of the most natural things your body does on a regular basis, and without sleep your health would be compromised. Sleep is a vital part of your daily life, and while it is tempting to stay up late at night to watch another episode of your favorite show, losing sleep could have an impact on your sugar consumption the following day. A recent study on middle school students found that reduced sleep durations at night are associated with increased consumption of energy drinks as well as sugar-sweetened beverages. The key to getting more sleep at night , and to give your body a better chance at cutting sugar, is to aim for seven to nine hours of quality sleep each night. Consider making your room as dark as possible when you sleep and skip on watching TV, getting on your phone, or reading on a computer screen prior to bed, as this can prevent the release of naturally occurring melatonin from being released.
The Bottom Line
Quitting sugar is a difficult task and many adults attempt this each year as a method to lose weight and to feel better. Simply cutting sugar from the diet requires discipline and good knowledge in order to fully succeed. In addition, when the body is addicted to a certain nutrient (in this case sugar) there is a chance that withdrawal symptoms appear. Described as being similar to illicit drug addiction, sugar addiction and the withdrawal symptoms can be quite serious depending on the level of dependency the body has generated. Consider reading our article on the sugar withdrawal symptoms and how to combat the condition for more information.
There are many ways to stop eating sugar altogether, as listed by the helpful tips above. While those tips are merely suggestions to improve your success, it is important to tailor them to your own needs and wishes. You know your body best, and when the tips are aimed towards a specific part of your daily life, you are more likely to win the battle. Having a strong understanding of the foods you eat is a great start in the battle to quit sugar, as this is an objective way to see how much sugar you actually eat. In addition, many foods have hidden amounts of sugar and you may not even realize the amounts you eat regularly. Consider using modern technology to assist with your food tracking: generally, smartphone apps make the food tracking part of your lifestyle change much simpler than writing everything down.
Wrapping it Up
The tips listed above are methods that have been found by individuals all over to be a good way to reduce the amount of sugar consumed on a regular basis. While you may find something else that works fine, the important part is you have many options and support on your side. Cutting sugar completely from your diet can be a bit of a shock in the beginning of the journey, but the end result is better energy, weight loss, and a brighter outlook on your new lifestyle.