So you’re eliminating sugar from your diet and you have no idea where to start. Well in the immortal words of Maria Von Trapp “Start at the very beginning…”
And if you are under any illusions about how sugar affects your health go and read this post.
Sugar is probably the number one reason for hormonal imbalance in many women’s diet. If you are in perimenopause, menopause or post-menopause cutting sugar from your diet will help with menopause symptoms including lack of energy, weight gain and hot flushes. It will also go a long way towards helping you have a better night’s sleep.
I have lived without sugar in my diet for a long time. When I eliminated sugar the benefits were life-changing. My hot flushes stopped nearly overnight, I lost weight, slept better and had fabulous energy.
Here are my best tips for eliminating sugar from your diet.
1 Go cold turkey. The slope steeper is but you will get to the top quicker.
Do you give sugar up all at once or do you start with say, cutting the 20 Cokes down to 10 and swapping the chocolate-coated Magnum icecream for a natural, vanilla flavoured gelato?
Those of you who think you have the willpower to cut sugar out of your diet slowly may be surprised at the difficulty. Eating sugar, even in small amounts, makes you want to eat more sugar as surely as if it were cocaine. Sugar is addictive; the only way to cure the addiction is to kick the habit.
I gave up overnight. One day I’m snacking on brownie and ice-cream the next nuts and seeds. I’m a fairly disciplined person and didn’t find it too difficult. I rode out the withdrawals for a few days and after that, it was plain sailing. Perhaps that’s why I haven’t fallen off the bandwagon; the cravings dissipate fairly quickly.
2 Any attempt at eliminating sugar should also include eliminating refined carbohydrates.
Carbohydrates turn into glucose in our bodies and raise blood sugar levels. The glucose that isn’t immediately needed is converted into fat. The less fibre in the food we eat the more carbohydrates there is to convert.
Kale contains carbohydrates and fibre and so does a doughnut, the difference is, one you will take pleasure in and the other won’t make you fat and spike your blood sugar levels. This is a good way to tell which carbohydrates you should and shouldn’t eat. If it is something you crave; hot chips with gravy, meat pie, ice-cream, you can bet your sweet life it’s full of refined carbohydrates.
Food that usually wouldn’t enter your head as something you would rush home for is more than likely full of good carbs with lots of fibre; kale chips, farrow and lentil salad. The carbs in these foods are packaged with fibre so take longer to digest and therefore give you sustained energy over a longer period of time. They also typically contain fewer carbohydrates than their more refined counterparts.
Take heart, the longer you are on this diet the more the farrow and lentil salad will appeal.
3 Keep fructose to a minimum.
Fructose is the main carbohydrate found in fruit. Sugar (sucrose) is made up of 50% fructose and 50% glucose. Glucose is essential to life, fructose is not. You will not die, cutting out fruit and quitting sugar although the future could be grim if you don’t. Unless you are an athlete burning mega calories all your energy needs can be derived from other foods as mentioned in Tip 2.
Sugar-containing fructose comes in many guises so you need to become an expert at reading labels. Keep an eye out for;
- High fructose corn syrup
- Maple syrup
- Agave syrup
- Coconut sugar
As for your daily intake of fruit, YOU DON’T NEED IT. Scandalous I know but you can stop jumping around like a flea on a dog’s back. If you feel you can’t cut out fruit altogether stick to the fruits that are low in fructose and high in fibre. The only fruit I include in my diet is raspberries or kiwi fruit and both have great antioxidant properties and are nutrient powerhouses.
4 If you must drink alcohol stick to low carbohydrate choices
Now before you go all ‘pork chop’ on me, calm down. I am not about to suggest you give up alcohol. That would be a little like a lawyer calling a politician dishonest. I love a glass of wine and I am not about to give that up. I do find however that I can’t drink as much as I used to, could be my age but I like to blame it on my diet.
If you are going to drink alcoholic beverages, remember that it too is addictive and swapping one addiction for another is a slippery slope.
Stick to dry wines, spirits with either soda or neat and beer. Remember though that some of these drinks contain high carbohydrates so go easy.
Lindeman’s make some low kilojoule wines that aren’t too shabby and Fat Head beer which is virtually zero carbs is very acceptable. I love vodka with a squeeze of lime and maybe a dash of stevia. On a hot summers day top it up with soda and ice. Who needs sugar-loaded mixers?
5 Use sugar alternatives to get you over that craving hump
This is controversial as most will tell you to avoid alternative sweeteners but if it is a means to an awesome healthy life why not use something to get you over that hump.
To help you through that initial period where you are still craving sweet stuff you may want to make use of some of the fructose-free sugar alternatives that are out there. My go-to choices were Rice Malt syrup, stevia and xylitol. They are less sweet than sugar but it doesn’t take long to prefer the taste.
Rice malt syrup is made from brown rice that has a culture introduced to it to break down the starches and is then boiled until it becomes syrupy. It is high in carbohydrates so moderation is recommended.
Stevia is plant-based and comes in many forms.
Xylitol is a sugar alcohol.
There are many substitutes that should be avoided. This is a big topic all on its own but for now, I suggest you go here or perhaps buy David Gillespie’s ‘Sweet Poison’ to get the low down.
6 Eat the full-fat version of foods and avoid low-fat alternatives
Avoid foods labelled as fat-free or low-fat. What is removed from the food to make it low fat is replaced with something else less desirable to prevent it tasting like yesterday’s veggie peelings? That something tends to be sugar and sodium.
7 Bonus Tip To Eliminating Sugar
Eat protein, at every meal especial breakfast it is the key to balancing blood sugar and insulin and cutting cravings. Protein includes lean, grass-fed meat, nuts, seeds, eggs and legumes.
They are my 6 top tips to help you give up sugar, nothing too difficult there. There are no hard and fast rules. If you slip up, you won’t break anything you get up and carry on. Every new day is your chance to ‘hit the refresh button’ and start again.
If you decide to give quitting sugar a go, good luck! I would love to know how you go. If you have already given up sugar, well done too! How did you do it, what are your tips?