1. Read the labels.
Before you start eliminating things from your diet, look at the food in your pantry and refrigerator and take the time to read the labels. Sometimes you’ll find sugar in unexpected places. Yogurt, cereal, bread, and canned baked beans are just a few examples of packaged food that might pack in a lot of sugar in a small serving for a boost of flavor.
Then when you do your grocery shopping, look at the labels on the food there before putting them in your cart. It might take you a while to finish your shopping trip the first time you read labels, but with time, you’ll know which products to buy and which to leave behind.
Especially watch out for food products that proclaim that they’re low fat. They’re often packed with more sugar to make them more palatable.
2. Drink less sugar.
You probably already know that a can of soda gives you up to 40 grams of sugar, but also watch out for other sugary drinks such as lemonade, orange juice, energy drinks, flavored water, ice tea, alcohol, and even certain packaged soy and almond milk. Again, check the labels of your favorite drinks and see if you can make some healthy replacements.
You don’t have to quit all of your sugary drinks all at once. Just drinking one less soda per week (or day, if you drink more than one per day) can help you lose weight in the long run. Eliminate sugar from your diet slowly to make permanent changes.
3. Edit your pantry and refrigerator.
When you’re hungry at random times during the day, do you reach for a sugary treat? If it’s there, it’s harder to resist. Try removing the sources of sugar in your diet from your home, such as cookies, small pieces of candy, and ice cream. Even if you have kids, it will benefit everyone in your home to have less sugar easily available. If you’re jonesing for a sweet treat, take everyone out for a cone of ice cream! Make it a special treat instead of an everyday (and boring) one.
4. Replace sugary treats with fruit.
When you eat less sugar, you’ll start to realize just how sweet fruit can be. Fruit do contain sugar, but they also include lots of other good stuff, like antioxidants and fiber, that help boost your health. Instead of a bowl of ice cream after dinner, try a bowl of frozen cherries or sliced fresh mango. Yum.
5. Drink water when you feel like eating a little sugar.
Sometimes a craving for sugar is just thirst. Try drinking a glass of water every time you want to go out to the store to grab a cookie (you don’t have any in your home anymore, right?). Often, you’ll forget your craving and be satisfied with that glass (or two) of cold water.
6. Try snacks that are satisfying and healthy.
Instead of stocking your pantry with sweets, try some snacks that satisfy your sugar cravings. You might want to experiment with a few snack ideas to see which ones make you happy and crave sugar less. Apple slices with almond butter, fresh berries in greek yogurt, and roasted almonds with dried cranberries are just a few examples of nutritional snacks that don’t contain too much sugar.
7. Don’t get too hungry.
Skipping meals will lead to hunger, which can lead to a full-blown sugar binge. Keep your body energized and happy by eating every meal and that includes breakfast. If three meals aren’t enough for you, try adding healthy snacks between meals or a six small meal plan if you have access to food all day.
8. Give it time.
Reducing (or quitting) sugar in your diet takes time and some thought. Don’t expect to break free of your sugar addiction quickly. It’ll take you a few weeks, or months, to permanently change your diet to include less sugar and more good stuff. This investment in your health will be worth it and it will definitely show up in both your scale and your health! Make small changes every week and it will all add up by the end of the year, promise.