Updated: Mar 26, 2020
I know that sugar is one of the hardest things to quit, its super addictive, its yummy, its delicious and it gives us a sense of temporary relief. But the operative word here is "temporary," so while it makes us feel good for a while, the damage it does to our body worse. Did you know that sugar is addictive as cocaine? yup!
A review published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine has claimed that refined sugar has a similar effect on the brain as illegal drugs such as cocaine.
Alright, so first let’s talk about how much sugar we’re allowed to consume per day. According to AHA (American Heart Association) guidelines, women should consume a maximum of 100 calories per day (about 6 teaspoons) from added sugar. In reality, "you don't need any added sugar," Dr. Hauser says.
Second, it’s super important for you to understand that there are 2 categories for sugar
Natural sugar (okay to have in moderation): like fruit, milk, yogurt, and starchy vegetables, contain naturally occurring sugars.
Added sugar (the bad boys): like corn syrup, dextrose, fructose, invert sugar, lactose, nectar, and malt syrup are all other names for added sugar.
READ THE LABEL: Sugar is disguised in many forms, so read food labels carefully. Watch for words ending in “ose” such as “sucrose” and “dextrose,” as well as corn syrup, molasses, cane juice and others
Remember sugar is not only available in sweets, it also present in most processed foods, basically read the labels for everything you buy.
Now that we know some of the basics, let’s talk about the addiction. If you’re hooked on sugar, don’t try to go cold turkey. It is best to gradually rid yourself off sugar and here are some helpful ways to do it:
Easy does it: for the first month start by cutting or drastically reducing one item at a time per week, for example week 1 you can cut soda; here is a list of items you can gradually cut out. if you’re a hardcore person, you can go for the cold turkey strategy, just be aware of the symptoms your body will go through physically and mentally – here is a helpful article to read “ How to Beat Sugar Detox Symptoms and Feel Better Than Ever”
Do it yourself: Instead of buying sweetened items, buy the unsweetened and add sweetener yourself, this way you manage the sugar portion and it will definitely be less than what the manufacturers put into it. For example yogurt, cereal, etc.
Exchange Program: Reach out for fruit (not juiced) instead of sweets. Exchange milk chocolate with dark chocolate (75% cacao or higher) Try to exchange added and refined sugar with natural resources.
Keep your mouth busy: sugar free gum is your go-to easy to maintain and control the cravings
Prep your meals and healthy snacks: when you don’t eat for a long stretch of time, you tend to get hungry and crave sugar, you will also try to grab whatever snack you find available to abate your hunger and it is most likely loaded in added sugar if you check the label
Support System: Do it with a friend or family member to keep each other motivated, on track and accountable do a sugar-free challenge. Create a WhatsApp group and celebrate the wins, and near misses; text the group and take a picture of the item you’re struggling step away from. Your support group will motivate you to stay relatively clean.
If you fall, don’t let loose: we’re human at the end of the day, if you have a set back and overindulge, pick yourself up and continue as you have planned all along, don’t wait to start over.
Quitting sugar is not easy, so remember to forgive yourself if you relapse and to pick up where you left off, at the end of the day, progress is progress no matter how small.
Final note: it takes about 2 weeks for your system to reboot when and if you cut out sugar completely.