- Switch to diet pop, same amount. Update, 9/28/12: If you have a serious sugar addiction, you may need to do this step in phases. See this article for info about sugar withdrawal symptoms and how to manage them.
- Replace one pop a day with coffee, tea or juice. No added sugar or artificial creamers. You may use other sweeteners. Do some research and experimentation to find a sweetener that you feel is healthy, and that doesn’t cause any troubling side effects for you.
- Continue replacing servings until you are off pop completely.
- Replace one drink a day with water or green tea. Flavor with real fruit or a splash of juice, if you want. (Note: if you’re going off of coffee or strong tea, you’ll need to do the replacement slowly to avoid caffeine withdrawal symptoms such as headaches and sluggishness.)
- Continue replacing until water is all you drink all day (with fruit, if you like). Or green tea till 3 pm; water after.
Sugar really can be quite addicting. Dr Eric Stice has famously said, “Sugar activates the brain similar to the way cocaine reacts”. I think that those who call it “toxic” are going overboard, though. As Dr. David L. Katz says, “the dose makes the poison.” And Americans are definitely over-dosing. On average, American adults eat about 100 pounds of sugar a year. (Source.)
(Click these links for some stunning graphics showing how much sugar and corn syrup the average American consumes in a day, week, month, year and lifetime. Care for a dip in a hot-tub full of corn syrup, anyone?)
I was diagnosed with hypoglycemia in high school, so I was trained early on to stay away from or at least go easy on sugar, but later in life, I got a little sloppy with it. Eventually, between my weight gain, migraines, and moods, I finally realized that I needed to get back to that super-cautious approach to sugar.
Here’s a short video by “Mama Natural” with some tips for kicking the white stuff:
I especially want to note this point that she mentions in passing:
Eating sugar creates craving for more sugar.
Understanding this made a big difference for me. Before I realized this, I might indulge in some sweets a few times a week because, hey, a little now and then isn’t that bigga deal, right? But the sweet itself isn’t the only cost: it can kick off bigger cravings one or two hours later, and depending on your vulnerability, those cravings might last for days. As I’ve made clear before, I do believe in the occasional indulgence for very special occasions. But when I do, I know I’ve got to get back on the no-sugar horse the very next day and tough out the cravings until they subside.
The great thing is, the reverse is also true. The more you stay off of sugar and other white carbs, the more your cravings will subside. The first week or two is gonna be tough, but after that it gets lots, lots easier. If you are physically addicted to sugar, you may need to do a slower withdrawal in order to manage bothersome side effects. For more info, see this article on how to get through sugar withdrawal.
So if you’re trying to punt the sugar monster, hang in there! You’ll be glad you did!
* Find Just Me(gan)’s blog at http://tallydogs.wordpress.com/
Granola. Eye the ingredients, and pay attention to the carb-protein ratio, and the amount of fiber. Some of these are really no better than sugar-coated cereal.
Smoothies. If not made at home with wholesome ingredients, these are usually sugar- and calorie-bombs.
Low-fat cheese. This is interesting: a study out of Harvard has identified a natural substance in dairy fat — yes, fat — that may substantially reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes.
Fat-free salad dressing. These are almost always crammed with extra sugar and/or corn syrup to make up for the texture and flavor lost to fat. Once you make your own salad dressings, you’ll be amazed at how easy it is and you’ll never go back to store-bought! A few of my faves:
– Creamy balsamic vinaigrette (This page also includes the easiest recipe ever: 1-2-3 Dressing.)
– Ginger-peanut dressing
– Almost-Panera’s Asian dressing
– Easy Tex-Mex: equal amounts of Greek yogurt and salsa, then a bit of taco seasoning – easy and delish! See my make-ahead Tex-Mex salad.
Rice cakes. Fairly void of any decent nutrients, they’re really just empty calories. Chocolate or cinnamon ones are just empty calories with sugar added.
Pretzels. Proof that “fat free” doesn’t equal healthy. They’re basically white bread with an egg wash and a bunch of salt.
Veggie burgers. They sound inherently healthy, but frozen veggie burgers can contain more processed filler ingredients and sodium than actual vegetables or beans.
Diet sodas. Sweeteners may increase sugar or carbohydrate cravings, and if consumed in great quantity, may actually impact weight gain.
Others on the list: Bran muffin. Whole-wheat wrap. (See the original article.)
Okay, I confess. That headline is a bit of an exaggeration.
Unless you’re eating a sugared-up, ground fine, instant oatmeal for breakfast every day, and not balancing out those 32 grams of carbs with an equal amount of protein — say, a half a dozen eggs, or five slices of Canadian bacon. Then it’s very little exaggeration at all.
Yeah, I hear ya. “But I thought oatmeal was health food!” Maybe some oatmeal, prepared certain ways, but this stuff?