Sugar – The other white powder that as some might argue is just as addictive as illegal drugs. As Americans, our diet contains way too much of it.
Sugar has been linked to the obesity, diabetes, and heart disease epidemics. A study published in the Journal of The American Medical Association showed that women who consume excess sugar have a greater prevalence of chronic inflammation, lower levels of good cholesterol and higher levels of triglycerides.
The average American consumes 22 teaspoons of sugar every day. That’s a lot of sweetness. While the dental and sugar cane industries are booming as a result of our love for sugar, our physical and mental health could benefit from a sugar detox.
If you want to cut back on your sugar habit, follow these three simple steps. Notice, we didn’t say “easy.” Sugar, as many scientific studies have shown, has a strong addictive quality to it. But like salt, sugar is an acquired taste. So by following a few simple steps, you can retrain your taste-buds and your mind to desensitize its affinity towards it.
1. Toss it out: This is perhaps the most important step of breaking the sugar habit. Spend one hour (or more, depending upon your sugar stash) rummaging through your refrigerator, kitchen pantry, secret food drawers, or wherever you have food and toss out all the usual suspects. From candy to cake frosting, Pop-Tarts, and soda… get a big box and dump your stash! Read the labels on spaghetti sauce, salad dressings, condiments and juices. If it contains sugar, put it in your sugar box.
2. Replace with natural sweets: Once you’ve donated your box or tossed it in the garbage, head out to the farmer’s market or grocery store and load up on tons of fresh fruit. Don’t overlook frozen fruit either. As long as it contains fruit and nothing else, frozen fruit is just as healthy as the fresh stuff and it’s more economical and goes great in smoothies. Toss in your grocery cart a jar of local honey, stevia, or agave syrup for natural sweeteners and herbal, green and black teas and sparkling water for naturally sugar-free beverages.
3. Bone up on protein: One of your greatest allies in the fight against sugar is protein. Protein satiates your appetite and will quell your sweet cravings. Low-fat Greek yogurt, hard-boiled eggs, lean poultry, raw almonds, beans, legumes, low-fat string cheese and low-fat cottage cheese are muscle-building protein sources that require minimal, if any, preparation. Toss one-half cup of garbanzo beans in a green salad at lunch, spread natural almond butter on whole-grain crackers for a snack, or pair fresh pineapple chunks with cottage cheese for breakfast.
Try these three steps for one week and take note of changes in your energy, mood and waistline. If the changes are eye-opening (we predict they will be), keep going and break that sugar habit for good!