If you’re wondering how to stop eating sugar, but you’re not sure where to start, this guide is for you.
Quitting sugar has become increasingly popular in recent years as more and more people become aware of its negative effects. Evidence points to sugar as a source of weight gain, health problems and behaviour issues. But it’s sweetness can be hard to resist, especially if it’s ingrained into your daily eating habits.
Here, we break down the exact steps to take so that you can adopt a low sugar diet the easy way.
Why stop eating sugar?
Sugar might seem like a harmless enough food substance, after all, it’s present in fruit – and that’s good for us, right? The problem is that manufactured food and drinks contain much higher amounts than we’d naturally consume and this has been linked to a long list of health issues. Too much sugar is associated with obesity, diabetes, cancer and tooth decay, so it’s something we should all take seriously.
A recent government report evaluated all of the available research on sugar and health. It examined a wide range of clinical trials and scientific studies to determine whether too much sugar has any impact on health. The report concluded that there were definitive links between sugar and weight gain, diabetes and tooth decay, which inevitably lead to new dietary recommendations being introduced for the general population.
One of the key findings of this report was that the higher the proportion of sugar in someone’s diet, the greater the risk of caloric overconsumption. This is the main cause of weight gain and obesity which is why quitting sugar can be an effective way to lose weight. In children and teenagers, there’s a clear link between drinking high-sugar beverages (like fizzy drinks and fruit juices), weight gain and high BMI. This puts people at risk of obesity-related conditions such as heart disease, stroke and cancer.
Two of the most common health problems caused by excessive sugar consumption are:
- Cholesterol – too much sugar can harm blood lipids, causing problems with cholesterol. This can escalate into bigger issues such as obesity, heart disease, and diabetes.
- Insulin resistance (prediabetes) – when you consume large amounts of sugar, your body becomes resistant to insulin, which tells fat cells to pick up fat from the bloodstream and hold on to fat already being carried. This process often causes obesity, and can cause type 2 diabetes as well.
As you can imagine, there are many more health problems caused by too much sugar. However, excessive sugar is often found in Western diets, leading to the common issues above.
How much sugar is OK?
The government recommends that no more than 5% of your calories should come from sugar. For most people, this equates to 30g or 5-7 teaspoons. But with just one ‘healthy’ cereal bar containing 12g of sugar, it’s easy to see how our sugar consumption quickly adds up throughout the day. It’s also important to note that this is a maximum amount, so you should be aiming to consume much less. Adopting a low sugar diet can help to reduce the risk of chronic conditions such as obesity, cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes. It’s also associated with additional wellness benefits like increased energy levels and clearer skin.
What types of sugar should you avoid?
If you’re like most smart dieters, you’ve already tried cutting back on sugar. After all, it’s “empty calories” and, aside from a quick energy burst, doesn’t do much for your body. However, not all sugar is bad sugar. This makes it important to understand what you should cut out and what you can leave in.
A good rule of thumb is that if the sugar is naturally occurring, it’s safe to leave in your diet. This means you can continue to consume fruits and vegetables without worrying about the negative effects on your body. It’s the refined sugars added to many fruit juices, yogurts, snack foods, and other food sources that can cause the adverse effects above.
Added sugar is typically lurking in processed foods under different names. Here are some of the ingredients you should be on the lookout for when you’re trying to reduce sugar in your diet:
- cane juice/syrup
- corn sweeteners (especially high-fructose corn syrup)
- fruit juice concentrate
- malt syrup
These are just a few of the ways that sugar can sneak past even the smartest dieters. As you can see, you need to read labels carefully.
How to stop eating sugar & lose weight
Now that we’ve discussed why the sweet stuff is so damaging to our health, it’s time to look at precisely how to stop eating sugar. Following the structured program below will help you to kick the habit, even if right now, it feels like an addiction you’ll never be free of.
Step 1 – Make a commitment
The first step to quitting sugar is making a commitment to do so. If it’s not something that you’re taking seriously, then it will be harder to stick with long-term. It’s difficult to resist temptations and cravings if your heart isn’t really in it. So, step one is to commit to quitting sugar. Writing it down as a goal or telling someone else can make this even more concrete.
Step 2 – Reduce the risk of temptation
The second step is to set yourself up for success by reducing the risk of temptation. This means removing sugary foods and drinks from your fridge and cupboards. There’s no need to waste it by throwing it out, you can give it to friends and family or donate it to your local food bank if it’s unopened. By removing sugary foods from your environment, you’ll be less tempted and have nothing to derail you if cravings do arise.
Step 3 – Phase out obvious sugars
The next step is to phase out the obvious sources of sugar from your diet. These are things like fizzy drinks, chocolate bars, sweets, biscuits, cakes and sugar that you add to tea and coffee. If you’re the type of person who likes to do things ‘cold turkey’ then, by all means, go ahead and quit immediately. But many people find this approach too difficult, so it can be easier to gradually reduce your intake over a period of days or weeks. Cut down to half a teaspoon of sugar and then go all the way to nothing. Just have one square of chocolate instead of the entire bar or a miniature soft-drink instead of full-size. Not only will this engrain your new low sugar diet, but it will also give you the confidence that you are able to resist the pulls of sugar.
Step 4 – Deal with the initial cravings
Around this stage, you may encounter sugar cravings. If you’ve reduced your food intake by cutting out sweet snacks, then you may feel hungrier than usual. Rather than feeling deprived or relying on willpower, it can be helpful to take an appetite suppressant like PhenQ. This supplies your body with nutrients like Nopal and Chromium Picolinate which reduce hunger sensations so that you don’t crave food as much. It also gives you a dose of caffeine which can boost your energy levels and also reduce appetite too.
Step 5 – Cut out hidden sugars
By this stage, you’ll have cut out the majority of the sugar in your diet. The final step is to identify the sources of sugar that are hidden in less obvious foods like pasta sauce and yogurts. Read the nutritional labels carefully and look for the line underneath carbohydrates which says ‘of which sugars’. This will tell you exactly how much sugar is in a serving – and you may be surprised by some of the culprits! Then seek out reduced-sugar alternatives or try making your own homemade versions so that you can control exactly which ingredients go in.
Adopting a low sugar diet long-term
Following this step-by-step program will help you to stop eating sugar for good. You’ll be able to transform your food habits and make long-term lifestyle changes instead of adopting a ‘diet’ mentality. Focusing on low sugar foods will help you to lose weight naturally and reduce your risk of chronic diseases like cancer and heart disease. Over time you’ll find that your taste buds adapt and you no longer crave the sweet treats you did before. You may even find that it gives you a new sense of freedom because you’re no longer ‘resisting’ unhealthy foods. So why not take control of your eating habits and quit sugar today?
Do you have any tips on how to stop eating sugar or deal with cravings? We’d love to hear them in the comments below!