The American Heart Association suggests eating no more than 9 teaspoons of added sugar per day for males and 6 teaspoons for females, which equals 36g for men and 24g for women. There are 39g of sugar in a can of coca-cola, to put things into perspective. This is added sugar, not naturally occurring sugars found in milk, fruits and vegetables, etc. I suggest keeping track of all the sugar you eat for one day to get an idea of what you typically consume. If it is well over 100g, start by trying to cut back to 80g. If you are around 100g added sugar/day, try to cut back to less than 60g. If you need help with this, please feel free to email me a food journal and I can let you know how much added sugar you are eating and make a few suggestions if needed (for free).
Create a plan - It is so essential for nutritional success, to create a plan for what you are going to eat. I suggest making a plan for the week ahead before you grocery shop so you have everything you need for healthy balanced meals and none of the bad stuff, right out of the gate. This really helps for those times when you are starving and are most likely to give in to your cravings. Even if you don’t end up eating it, always have a snack on hand that is healthy and low in sugar for these low willpower times.
Plan for Cravings because they will happen. Often by mid afternoon or evening, many people are craving something sweet and it’s best to make a plan for when this happens. For me, my go-to is grapes; they are sweet and juicey and a couple handfuls usually does the trick. You can try trail mix with dried fruit as well which has sugar, protein and fat, making it quite balanced and perfect for shutting down cravings. A banana and peanut butter is quite satisfying as well. But sometimes grapes and trail mix just aren’t going to do it for you. If you are really craving something rich, I’ll tell you my secret. Try a tsp of melted coconut oil with a tbsp of maple syrup and about a tsp of unsweetened pure cocoa powder or enough to make the consistency and taste you like. Mix it all together and you have very rich chocolate syrup, which I just eat with a spoon. It’s made from all natural whole ingredients and no added sugar. You can add it to nice cream or mix it with peanut butter. You can also chew gum, brush your teeth or leave the house without your wallet. Find something that works for you and always have that food on hand for when a craving strikes.
Don’t buy it. It is very important, if you are trying to consume less sugar, to not buy it or bring it into the house or office/work. This includes chocolate, candies, pop, juice, anything bakery goods, ice cream and treats, caramel popcorn, some chips, etc. Fill your fridge with whole foods (one ingredient) so you have many options for when you are hungry.
Cut out sugary beverages. This includes all fruit juice, pop, sweetened teas, and coffee beverages with added sugar. Get used to drinking water, if you aren’t already. These beverages don’t include any other component i.e. fibre, fat protein etc. They are just sugar and water and your body absorbs most, if not all, of the sugar because the sugar molecules aren’t bound to any other molecule, which would normally slow the absorption. There is little nutritional value and you are quickly wasting calories and your sugar allowance for the day by drinking them. If you drink a few sodas or glasses of fruit juice a day, simply drinking water instead will help you drop pounds without any additional effort!
When giving in seems inevitable - If you are really craving sugar and end up giving in, first of all, don’t drink it. Look for something containing other macronutrients in it such as fibre, protein or fat as they will help slow the absorption of sugar in the small intestine. Secondly, consider everything else you have eaten that day. Did you have sugar in your coffee? Did your salad dressing at lunch have sugar in it? Did you already have other treats containing sugar? It all adds up so try looking at your day as a whole and then assess how much to have from there. And thirdly, if you do indulge, try to have only the suggested serving size on the nutritional label.
Be patient - If you are a full on sugar addict, it can take a couple weeks to desensitize your palate and get used to the way natural food tastes. However, once you accomplish this, the sugary treats you used to love will taste very strong and you likely won’t be able to eat as much, which is ideal. It’s tough and can take quite a while to really change your sugar habits. Be patient and stick with it. Don’t get too discouraged if you do succumb to a sugar craving. Take baby steps, celebrate the small victories and be happy with any progress you make.
For more information on sugar from The American Heart Association, go to: