Hi Guys! It’s summer for me and I could not be happier! During my summer break, I love to invest more time in my health. I exercise more, juice fruits and vegetables, cook healthy recipes, get outside, and try to watch health documentaries and read nutrition books. Not your typical college student, I know. I guess I’m strange. Anyway, recently, I watched “Hungry for Change” and was shocked to learn that the average American consumes over 64 pounds of sugar per year. Teenagers and children consume even more than that! I started thinking about all the foods I grew up eating… Toaster Strudels for breakfast every morning, Cinnamon Toast Crunch, Little Bites, etc. Even now, I still sometimes eat more sugar than I know I should… It hides in salad dressings, bars, condiments like ketchup and tomato sauce, and pretty much all processed foods.
As I get older, I continue to work on cutting down my processed foods and sugar intake, but it’s not always easy. I want to share the top 3 tools that help me keep my sugar intake lower than what it used to be.
1. KNOWLEDGE. The more I learn about the detrimental effects of sugar, the less I want to eat it.
- Check out 146 reasons sugar is harmful: http://rheumatic.org/sugar.htm. Save a picture of this on your phone and next time you want to binge on sweets, take a look at this picture. Sometimes you’ll be motivated to opt for a healthier choice, other times you might say screw it and go for the guilty pleasure (I’ve experienced both situations…), but it’s worth a shot!
- I highly recommend the book “Skinny Bitch” if you want to be motivated to eat healthy.
- In addition to its numerous calories, sugar actually depletes the body of nutrients and causes an imbalance of calcium, phosphorus, and hormones. (Raymond Francis, “Never be Sick Again”).
- Remind yourself that sugar is toxic and addictive. Learn more about this in “Hungry for Change.” (link above)
- Read the ingredients. If you see any of the words listed below, there is sugar in the product.Corn sweetener, Corn syrup, or corn syrup solids, Dehydrated Cane Juice, Dextrin, Agave Nectar, Barley Malt Syrup, Dextrose, Fructose, Fruit juice concentrate, Glucose, High-fructose corn syrup, Honey, Invert sugar, Lactose, Maltodextrin, Malt syrup, Maltose, Maple syrup, Molasses, Raw sugar, Rice Syrup, Saccharose, Sorghum or sorghum syrup, Sucrose, Treacle, Turbinado Sugar or Xylose
2. HAVE A PLAN. Know your weaknesses. When do you eat too much sugar…Is it when you are stressed? Out to dinner? When you let yourself get too hungry? On days you don’t workout? Have a strategy that will protect you when you are in one of these situations. For example, I know I have not mastered “portion control.” If I start eating a cinnamon roll… I’m going to eat the whole thing and want more. I can’t stop myself. So, I try to stay away from any dangerous “trigger foods” all together or I buy a single serving of a sweet treat so that I have no choice than to just eat one. I replace my “trigger foods” with healthier and low calorie options so I can eat more of it (I like to eat a lot of food.). I eat a LOT of fruit, berries, sun-dried goji berries, raw vegan cacao chocolate, and other health foods that also happen to be sweet.
3. MAKE IT FUN. I like to do 30-day challenges so that I have a focus. Here are some ideas for a 30-day challenge:
- Replace processed sugars you add to beverages or baked goods with stevia in the raw, cinnamon, honey, or other healthy sweeteners.
- Eat 80% unprocessed, plant-based foods. The other 20% can be whatever you want.
- Keep a food journal or track the amount of sugar you’re eating for 30 days (Check out the Myfitpal app).
- Decide to try a new healthy dessert recipe 3 times a week for 30 days if you eat sugary deserts often.
Be consistent. It takes time to change bad habits. It also takes time to change your taste buds. On average, one may have to eat a certain food 15 times before they acquire a liking for it. I used to dislike a lot of healthy foods and healthy recipes, but now I crave them! Hang in there. Be tough. I promise that you’ll notice a difference in your energy, mood, happiness, and health if you decrease your sugar intake and increase your intake of super foods.
Thanks for reading! Feel free to post questions, ideas, or thoughts.