So you decided to give up sugar this year? Congratulations!
It’s been a few weeks now. How are you going with that? How well you’re doing is probably going to depend on how much of a sugar addiction you have, whether you buddied up with someone and how much research you did before you got started.
As a former consumer of sugar, I can confirm, it does get easier. However, you’ll probably need a bit of extra help to keep you on track and to remain motivated.
As I have mentioned in a previous post here, my sister and I gave up sugar nearly 2 years ago. Having someone else to share the experience with was invaluable and in those early days, all we talked about was sugar, how to avoid it, where to find the hidden sugar in packaged foods and how to say NO when we found ourselves in sticky situations (literally).
Of course, my sister and I proudly discussed our newly acquired sugar free status with anyone who would listen.
Perhaps you’ve decided to just dip your toe in the water.
Sure, just cut back a little on sugar, no need to go cold turkey just yet. Good idea.
While I was reading and researching the subject of sugar and the negative impact it was having on my body and before I had fully committed to the idea, I decided to just cut back on the obvious sugars, like cakes, biscuits, chocolates and the like, so when it came to the big day, I had already started to get my mind and my body ready for the change. It did help.
If you’re struggling with the idea of giving up, then read on to find out my 7 ways to give up sugar without really trying. Well, at the very least these tips will help you get started.
1. Dilute your Juice.
Once you finally commit, the juice from fruits will become a thing of the past.
You will come to understand that the concentrated burst of fructose you get from a glass of juice is something your body does not need. Even worse, it’s converted to fat almost immediately, and if you’re wondering about the Vitamin C content of a big glass of juice that you might be missing out on? Well, your body doesn’t need that much in one hit and is unable to store it anyway. A much better way to get your daily dose is by eating the whole fruit, that way you are getting the life-saving Vitamin C your body needs and a whole lot of fibre to boot.
But, if you struggle with the idea of giving up the juice, try diluting your juice. 1 part juice to 2 parts water is a much better option, you will be more hydrated and you will have cut down considerably on your fructose load.
2. Switch your Sweeteners to Stevia.
Stevia is a super sweet plant, in fact, it’s about thirty to forty times sweeter than sugar but with fewer calories (gotta love that) and without the diabolical impact on your liver and blood sugar. My personal favourite is the brand Natvia. It is probably more expensive than your regular old table sugar, but you use so much less of it, so it kind of works out the same price in the long run.
Not only is it a truly healthy alternative to sugar, but also far better than other nasty synthetic sugar substitutes like Aspartame, Saccharin and Sucralose.
3. Check what’s inside (reading the labels).
When I first started to cut back and eventually give up sugar altogether, I was blown away by the amount of added sugar in packaged foods. Shopping at the local supermarket became an obsession for me. Truly, I could not believe how much was being added to the food we eat. Innocuous products like jarred ginger and garlic spreads and condiments such as mustard, tomato sauce, soy sauce and fish sauce. You name it, there’s sugar inside.
Fear not, there is hope, there are good brands that do not add sugar, but you will have to go looking, which can be a bit of a hassle but, I feel as the sugar-free revolution gathers momentum, you will find more and more companies changing their recipes and ingredient list to either sugar-free or sweetened with the natural sweetener Stevia. But, do not be fooled by the sugar-free labels, as very often there is some other artificial sweetener lurking about that does just as much harm. Always check the ingredient list on the back of the product, that is where the truth lies.
If you want to know more about the hidden sugars in your food I strongly suggest reading David Gillespie’s book, Sweet Poison. David does a brilliant job of researching and explaining the science behind the types of sugar we eat and how it impacts our health in so many ways. My other inspiration is Sarah Wilson, she has many books published on the subject. Click here to visit I Quit Sugar. Guidance and motivation are what you will find and a lot of really great recipes.
The other alternative in avoiding hidden sugar and a practice I have come to live by for many health reasons; not just sugar avoidance, is to simply minimise the amount of packaged foods you consume. Fresh, unpackaged is always best.
4. Swap your Fruits.
If you are serious about giving up sugar and reducing the load fructose puts on your liver, then the fruits you choose will make a big difference. Some fruits like blueberries, raspberries and cranberries are all much lower in fructose, as well as having a much higher antioxidant capacity compared to many other fruits. High fructose fruits like bananas, mangoes and peaches are delicious and full of vitamins but are also super sweet, consider swapping for the lower fructose fruits and if you find the berry fruits too expensive, alternatives like pears, plums and mandarins are fantastic, healthy alternative. So don’t give up fruit, just swap it for fruits that aren’t so sweet and high in fructose.
5. When it comes to Chocolate, go to the dark side.
Someone once told me that if you love dark chocolate you are in a tiny minority which makes up about 5% of the total population. Go figure? This is not a scientific fact, they just didn’t like or understand my penchant for dark chocolate. But I digress, not only is dark chocolate my personal favourite, it is loaded with antioxidants and a high concentration of minerals like Potassium, Copper, Magnesium and Iron and usually much lower in sugar. A good indication of how much sugar is added will be where exactly the sugar is placed on the ingredient list. Look for brands that list sugar as one of the last ingredients.
Perhaps dark chocolate is an acquired taste, but once you get used to it, the health benefits might just outweigh your old milk chocolate habit. Of course, eventually, if you are to give up sugar for good even the dark stuff will need to be replaced. I have discovered a brand available in Australia called Well Naturally, sweetened with stevia and a great choice when the need for a little chocolate just will not subside.
6. When you’re in a sticky situation choose Rice Bran Syrup.
There are lots of natural sweeteners that are perceived as better for you than sugar, honey comes to mind as does agave and maple syrup and are often used as a healthy replacement for the white stuff.
Unfortunately, they’re all super sweet and laden with fructose. So, if cutting back on foods that stress your liver, convert to fat at lightning speed or raise your blood sugar to unnaturally high levels is your goal, then eventually you will want to cut back on these stickies.
If you don’t think you can live without these sweet delights then let me introduce you to, rice malt syrup, it is slowly released and does not overload your liver with too much glucose. I use the organic product from Pureharvest which does a fine job when you need to balance your food with a bit of sweetness.
7. Make your own Ice cream.
When I first gave up sugar, my biggest struggle was dealing with my small addiction to ice cream. I love it, I could easily eat it every day and to my dismay, I have never been able to find a suitable commercially made ice cream alternative to maintain my sugar-free status. So, I make my own. I have an ice cream maker which means delicious, creamy sugar-free ice cream can be made, ready to serve in around 40 minutes. So good!
Actually, making your own of anything is going to help reduce your sugar intake as packaged foods are just loaded and if you switch from sugar to stevia and rice malt syrup in your cooking you will be well on your way to better health and a sugar-free life.
So that’s my top 7 sugar-free starter tips.
Give it a try. Do the research. Get yourself a sugar-free buddy. Ease your way into a sugar-free life. It’s not as hard to give up sugar as you may think, sure you will come across hurdles and sometimes falter, but just keep going, you will make it.
Then one day, in the not too distant future, you’ll find yourself in a situation when, just for the sake of being polite you will partake in that piece of sugary birthday cake and when you do, you’ll be taken aback at the level of sweetness and wonder what all the fuss was about in the first place. Your sweet taste senses will have diminished. Finally, you will know in your heart you are free of the sugary life you once led. Liberation at last. Amen to that.
So are you about to give up sugar or just thinking about it? Or are you finally liberated?
See you next time,