Are you trying to prioritize your health by committing to a more nutrient-dense diet but, like many others, feel “hooked” on sugar? At times, and especially in the beginning, it may appear impossible to eliminate your sugar cravings. However, with a few helpful strategies, it is possible to eat less sugar and get your body to a healthier state without feeling deprived.
How to break your sugar habit
Trying to quit sugar cold turkey by eliminating all sugary foods in one go often leads to even stronger sugar cravings. Instead, concentrate on adding more satiating and nutritious foods.
Certified chef, nutrition educator, and clinical fellow in medicine at Harvard Medical School Dr. Michelle Hauser says that nudging yourself away from sugar while filling up on foods like whole grains, fruits, veggies, healthy oils, and lean protein will “help to even out your blood sugar [which means] you won’t have spikes and crashes all the time.”
To help you beat your sugar addiction, here are four functional tips:
Keep sugary foods away
The best way to stop yourself from indulging in sugary snacks is to keep them out of your fridge and pantry. “As a substitute for these things, keep fruit around,” advises Dr. Hauser.
Sweeten foods yourself
Instead of grabbing foods with added sugars, try sweetening your food yourself. Ease into this habit by keeping it simple. Start by buying things like unsweetened iced tea, plain yogurt, and unflavored oatmeal. Then, you can add your own sweetener. According to Dr. Hauser, the chances of you exceeding the quantity of sweetener that the manufacturer adds to food items are very low.
Watch for hidden sugars in foods
Sugars aren’t just found in sugary beverages and candy. They are often hiding in products that are advertised as low in fat. “When companies take out the fat, they add back almost all the calories in sugar,” explains Dr. Hauser.
To avoid this trip, make sure to read ingredient lists so that you can skip products that list sugar as the first ingredient or that contain several types of sugar (brown sugar, cane nectar, etc).
To raise your chances of giving in to food cravings throughout the day, consider eating a filling and nutritious breakfast (if you don’t already). Good breakfast food options include steel-cut oatmeal, eggs, and fruit.
“When you get used to eating fewer super-sweet things, you crave them less,” reveals Dr. Hauser. “You become more satisfied with less sweet things.”