With our beloved South African sunshine around the corner, we got to thinking about our summer bodies. That’s why we decided to explore how to ditch one of the worst offenders when it comes to poor health – sugar.
In the last few years, sugar’s gained a bad rap, and there are conflicting reports on just how bad it is for you. Some studies suggest that it’s as addictive as hard drugs, while others show that this may not be the case. One thing we do know is: too much of the stuff is really bad for you.
It’s in everything. Cold drinks, alcohol, cakes, chocolates, sweets, biscuits, and your tea and coffee. If you check the labels on mayonnaise or chutney, they’re loaded with sugar. Sometimes it seems like, unless you’ve made it from scratch, everything you put in your body is loaded with that deliciously addictive substance.
So, quitting sugar isn’t as easy as simply not putting any in your cappuccino.
Those who have ditched sugar have reported various effects on their bodies, ranging from amazing benefits to downright awful withdrawals. Some of the not-so-sweet changes you might expect to see soon after quitting sugar are:
· mood swings
But once you’ve gone a week or two without it, you should start to feel more like your best self. Once you’re over the initial withdrawal, some of the benefits include:
· mental clarity
· increased energy
· improved skin
· weight loss
· improved mood
· better sleep
If you’ve got a serious sugar obsession, it might be holding you back from being at your best, considering sugar makes your energy levels spike and drop through the day. So while we know you’re doing great and smashing goals, a little less sugar could give you a lot more oomph steadily throughout the day.
If you’ve been thinking of cutting out sugar from your diet, or just finding a way to consume less of it, here are some practical tips to get you through the first few weeks.
Step 1: Evict it
Sugar doesn’t pay rent in your house, so kick it out. It’s got plenty of other places it can stay. This means you need to get rid of everything that contains sugar, which will likely be most of your condiments and sauces. Luckily, there are alternatives for many of your favourite foods, such as sugar- and salt-free peanut butter and unsweetened plain yoghurt. If you’ve got a sweet craving that can’t be denied, eat a piece of fruit. While fruit contains sugar, it also has a load of other vitamins that are good for you; just don’t overdo it.
Step 2: Make small substitutions
There are countless sugar substitutes on the market that can help ease you out of your sugar addiction, but try to use these as a bridge to becoming sugar-free, rather than sticking to them full-time. Studies have shown that sugar substitutes have been linked to increased visceral fat and weight gain, and while they do play an important role in health, particularly for diabetics, it’s best to consume them in moderation.
Step 3: Go slow and steady
Because of the horrible withdrawal symptoms that you might face, it’s a good idea to quit gradually. Start by giving up, say, soft drinks, or little by little, reduce the amount of sugar you add to your tea or coffee each week. If you do this with a weekly goal, you’ll find yourself quickly ditching most sugar without the hectic downsides.
Step 4: Eat a balanced diet
One of the best ways to stop a sugar craving before it even starts is to eat a balanced diet of protein, healthy fats, and fibre. Protein helps to stabilise your blood sugar levels, your body will burn fat when you’ve cut out sugar, and fibre will help you feel fuller for longer.
If you’ve cut out sugar or simply reduced your intake of it, share this blog through the social buttons below, tag us, and tell us how consuming less of it has made you feel. We’d love to hear your stories!
Also remember that, while too much sugar can harm your health, your body still needs a certain amount of glucose to function properly, so make sure you still get your daily dose, preferably from a healthy source like fruits or milk products.
The information contained in this article does not constitute professional advice.
Sources: 1stforwomen, Science Alert; News24; Mental Health Daily; Runtastic; Good Housekeeping; Washington Post;