Quitting sugar may sound like a death sentence but just so you know – there is life after sugar! It can be one of the most difficult things you will do, especially if you have a sweet tooth. However, it will also be one of the greatest steps you can take to improve your overall health. Find out why sugar is bad and how to begin reducing your intake of sugar.
We are often told to cut back on our sugar intake as much as we can. Or at least halve it. But the statistics are truly worrying. According to the American Heart Association, the average American consumes about 22 teaspoons of added sugar each and every single day. This shocking discovery makes us question exactly what is hiding in our foods.
Even individuals who do not wish to consume sugar cannot dodge it. This sweet ingredient is hidden in so many food products, it is virtually impossible to avoid it unless completely giving up store-bought items. But quitting sugar doesn’t always have to be this hard. We’ll show you how to quit sugar and abandon that “relationship” for good.
Why Is Sugar Bad for You?
1. It has no nutrients
Sugar is all taste and no nourishment. Added sugars such as corn syrup and high fructose pack a great number of calories but NO nutrients. There’s a term used to describe this, and you may have heard about “empty calories”.
Such ingredients or products contain no proteins, vitamins, essential fats, minerals, or other vital nutrients. In fact, they contribute to nutrient deficiencies. This is due to the fact that sugar loads can increase the (normal) rate of mineral loss in urine and in sweat.
2. It’s damaging for the liver
To better comprehend why quitting sugar is the next obvious step to take, let’s see what it is made of. Before entering the bloodstream, sugar is broken down into fructose and glucose. Glucose is something that our body can produce on its own. Fructose, on the other hand, is only produced in an insignificant amount. This is because we simply do not need it.
Our liver can metabolize fructose if it comes in smaller amounts. For example, it does not become a problem if we eat a fruit. In this case, fructose is turned into glycogen and our liver stores it for when our body needs it.
However, when we eat too much fructose, our liver gets filled with glycogen. This forces the liver not to store it any longer, but to turn it into fat. When eating large amounts of sugar on a regular basis, we can develop a fatty liver and other serious health issues.
3. It causes dental problems
Our teeth can also start recovering their health while we’re in the process of quitting sugar. Our mouth is full of bacteria that is beneficial to our oral ecosystem. Dental problems appear when the harmful bacteria feed on sugar to create acids. These acids destroy the tooth enamel, which is the protective layer of our teeth. This leads to cavities, that can then progress past the enamel and into the deeper tooth layers. In addition to pain, tooth decay can also lead to completely losing the affected tooth.
4. It can lead to insulin resistance
Sugar can also cause insulin resistance. This is a leading cause of many serious diseases. Sugar consumption has been linked to metabolic syndrome, type II diabetes, obesity, and cardiovascular disease.
5. Highly fattening
Sugar is a highly addictive substance. This is why quitting sugar can take a lot of work. Some will go as far as saying that it creates an addiction similar to drugs like heroin. Eating sugar causes a mild “high” and once the feeling wears off, we crave more. Furthermore, our bodies develop a tolerance to sugar, which is why we sometimes increase the intake.
When we eat too much sugar, it begins to show. Sugar is a carbohydrate, and our body will turn it into fat. Because it affects the blood sugar levels, it can spike up hunger. Therefore, the calories pile up and we end up putting on weight.
6. Raises the cholesterol
Heart disease is the number one killer in the world. And for many years, specialists have blamed saturated fats for this disease. However, more and more evidence shows that sugar may be a leading driver of cardiovascular disease as well. And it is all due to the harmful effects of fructose.
Fructose can raise the triglycerides, low-density lipoprotein, and oxidized low-density lipoprotein levels. These are major risk factors for serious cardiovascular diseases.
How to Start Quitting Sugar: Top 11 Tips
1. Do it now!
Do not postpone the moment any longer. Don’t plan it for next week or next month. Start immediately, otherwise, you continue to find excuses.
2. Eat simple food
Healthy eating starts with simple food. Choose products and recipes that have as few ingredients as possible. Think local, organic foods and clean-eating recipes.
3. Read the label
Always read the label on every food product that you buy. It will display the number of calories it packs and the amount of sugars, total fat, saturated fat, cholesterol, fiber, and other things you should look for.
If you find that the food you were planning to buy contains hidden sugars, then put it back on the shelf and never look back. Try to find a replacement, as there are often more natural, healthy options available for everything.
You should also avoid packaged foods that have been sweetened with palm sugar, agave, coconut sugar, and honey. These are all sugar but they are usually labeled as “healthy”. Stay clear of this trap. Agave is over 70 percent fructose.
4. No more fruit juice
You might think that keeping away from soda, slurpees, and other beverages of their kind would be enough. But here’s a shocker. A glass of fruit juice can contain the same amount of sugar as a glass of Coke. Even though the sugar in fruit is natural, it has to be eaten correctly.
Rather than drinking fruit juice, eat the whole fruit. Having both fiber and water intact, our bodies are able to metabolize the fructose. With juice, fiber and water is removed, thus leaving us with a big quantity of sugar that cannot be processed by our system.
Consequently, avoid dried fruit as well. Instead, eat fresh berries and kiwi, as they are low in fructose.
5. Don’t avoid fat
Especially when trying to lose weight, we opt for low-fat dairy. But we’re in the process of quitting sugar here, and you may be surprised to know that fat is usually replaced with sugar. More often than not, dairy products such as yogurt contain sugar to make up for the lost taste.
And it is not only the yogurt that gets tampered with. The same goes for mayonnaise. Don’t get tricked into thinking that they are healthier. Choose the whole-egg, full-fat products to avoid the “bad” calories in sugar.
6. Eat filling meals
When you’re quitting sugar, craving can become a major issue. And we get most of our sugar intake from snacks. This is why it is important you eat filling meals that leave you feeling satiated for a longer period of time. Foods high in protein and fiber should do the trick perfectly.
7. Watch those smoothies
Smoothies can be a healthy alternative to store-bought snacks, but they can also bring as many calories as a fast food product. Try making your smoothies at home with natural ingredients. You can mix up low-sugar yogurt with less sugary fruits such as blackberries, raspberries or grapefruit, and a bit of honey.
8. Eat more leafy green vegetables
Try replacing carbs with green leafy vegetables. Bread, pasta, and other refined carbohydrates are converted to sugar. Vegetables, on the other hand, are complex carbs that will satisfy your hunger for hours. Since they take longer to digest, you will probably feel full about 30 minutes after eating these vegetables.
9. Drink more water
As you’re quitting sugar, detox is also an important step. Water can flush the excess sugar out of your body. Furthermore, it can reduce your cravings and make you feel full. This can also be a good way to lose a few pounds.
10. Get your mineral magnesium intake
11. Stay clear of hidden sugars
Food manufacturers have mastered the art of hiding sugar and fooling the customer. But there are a lot of signals that should leave you questioning what’s written on the label.
As previously discussed, “low fat” does not mean low calories. As the fat got removed, sugar was added to make up for the lost taste.
If you see ingredients ending in “ose”, then you’ve been offered sugar dressed up in a fancier word.
There’s no such thing as 0g of sugar per serving. Sugar will probably make its way into pretty much any product. But you will find food products labeled as being sugar-free. Here’s the catch: if one serving packs less than a certain quantity of sugar, then the law allows companies to round down that amount to 0.