Sugar is a highly addictive carbohydrate linked to obesity, diabetes, metabolic disorders, and mood disorders. Individuals ready to phase out sugar will improve overall health, regardless of age and health status, but the transition can be challenging. A sugar-free or low-sugar diet can help individuals with blood sugar or systemic inflammation, including pre-diabetes, diabetes, heart disease, PCOS, hormonal imbalances, and autoimmune diseases.
Phase Out Sugar
A low-sugar nutrition plan focuses on maintaining a low overall sugar intake that limits sugar to avoid blood sugar instability and general inflammation.
- This means choosing food with natural sugars like fruit, certain dairy products, vegetables, and natural sugars.
- Reducing and replacing packaged or prepared foods with added sugars, like store-bought tomato sauce, cured meats, or frozen meals.
- Reducing and replacing processed foods like snack items and fast food.
- Reducing restaurant food that can add sugar for flavor and appetite stimulation.
Consult a healthcare provider, dietician, or nutritionist before altering diet, physical activity, or supplement routine.
Eat More Healthy Fat
- Healthy fat is more satisfying, making the body feel fuller for longer.
- Eating more healthy fat decreases sugar cravings and reduces sugar withdrawal symptoms.
Healthy fats include:
- Coconut oil
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Salmon, mackerel, and sardines
More Sleep to Balance Hunger Hormones
- Studies have shown that shorter sleep periods are associated with an elevated body mass index.
- Not getting enough sleep negatively impacts the appetite-regulating hormones leptin and ghrelin, causing cravings for instant energy that typically comes from sugar snack products.
- Individuals are recommended to get at least 7-9 hours per night. Enough sleep will balance the appetite hormones and decrease sugar cravings.
Manage Stress to Control Emotional Eating
Emotional eating is common when stressed out. Finding something to take the mind off sugar cravings is necessary when having a stressful day. This includes:
- Talk with a friend
- Learning meditation skills
- Using breathing techniques
- Take a walk, jog, bicycle ride, skate, etc.
- Drink stress relief tea
If sugar cravings are more serious, then professional help is recommended.
Drink More Water
When school, work, and life is happening, individuals can think they’re hungry; however, it is not hunger but the body needing hydration.
- Drink one to two glasses of water when cravings kick in to satisfy the craving.
- Drinking water throughout the day helps keep cravings down and helps with sugar withdrawal symptoms.
- Individuals who have difficulty drinking water should add slices of fruit, cucumber, or mint to make it more pleasing.
- Try sparkling mineral water or naturally flavored carbonated waters.
- Try healthy juices, like celery, beet, or carrot juice, instead of water.
Sugar substitutes are available, but not all are considered healthy.
- Individuals should be cautious about using sugar-free alternatives to phase out sugar.
- A study found that zero-calorie sweeteners such as aspartame and sucralose were actually found to increase, not decrease, weight.
- Stevia and monk fruit extract has been shown to be safe and has no negative side effects.
- Consult a dietician or nutritionist to determine the healthiest for you.
What Happens To The Body
Azad, Meghan B et al. “Nonnutritive sweeteners and cardiometabolic health: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials and prospective cohort studies.” CMAJ : Canadian Medical Association journal = journal de l’Association medicale canadienne vol. 189,28 (2017): E929-E939. doi:10.1503/cmaj.161390
Bayon, Virginie et al. “Sleep debt and obesity.” Annals of medicine vol. 46,5 (2014): 264-72. doi:10.3109/07853890.2014.931103
DiNicolantonio, James J et al. “Sugar addiction: is it real? A narrative review.” British journal of sports medicine vol. 52,14 (2018): 910-913. doi:10.1136/bjsports-2017-097971
Franklin, Jane L et al. “Extended exposure to sugar and/or caffeine produces distinct behavioral and neurochemical profiles in the orbitofrontal cortex of rats: Implications for neural function.” Proteomics vol. 16,22 (2016): 2894-2910. doi:10.1002/pmic.201600032
Freeman, Clara R et al. “Impact of sugar on the body, brain, and behavior.” Frontiers in bioscience (Landmark edition) vol. 23,12 2255-2266. 1 Jun. 2018, doi:10.2741/4704
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