Fight Sugar Addiction by Cleaning Out Your Kitchen
To successfully implement an improved eating plan, you must make sure that healthy, low-sugar foods are available in your house. If your kitchen and pantry are filled with junk food, your overloaded brain will drive you there when you finally take a moment to eat something.
You’re most likely going to eat whatever is handy, so the first step in upgrading to a healthier kitchen is to remove the junk food and stock a supply of quality food instead. Your goal is to make eating healthy food easy for you to do on a consistent basis.
Tossing the obvious culprits
If you don’t keep junk food in your house, you won’t have to worry about resisting the temptation to dive in! Get rid of these obvious sugar culprits:
Baked treats like cakes, pies, Danishes, donuts, and pastries
Sodas and other sweetened drinks, including juice drinks, diet sodas, prepackaged tea drinks, and energy drinks
Next, look at the labels on the jars in the pantry and fridge. Toss (actually, empty and recycle) bottles or sauces whose first or second ingredient is “sugar” or ends with “syrup” — corn syrup, rice syrup, or agave syrup, for example.
Uncovering less-obvious troublemakers
Sugar is prevalent in the Western food supply, and it comes in many forms, with many different names. Cutting back on how much sugar you eat isn’t always easy if you’re not aware of how sugars can be disguised on the list of ingredients.
The first place to look when seeking out hidden sugar is in foods that are otherwise considered healthy. Though fruit juice, protein bars, and granola have more nutrients than empty-calorie junk food, if you look at the nutrition facts you’ll find that most of them are laden with sugars. The fact that a food contains vitamins and antioxidants doesn’t make it sugar-free!
Fruit juice and juice drinks
Fruit juice contains a lot of concentrated fructose because none of the fruit pulp or fiber is present. Concentrated fructose is a direct path to obesity and diabetes, so while 100 percent fruit juice may be high in vitamins and antioxidants, you should drink it sparingly, if at all. If you do drink fruit juice, limit your serving to 4 ounces at a time (that’s half a glass).
Juice drinks, juice cocktails, and juice boxes marketed for children are required to contain only 10 percent actual fruit juice. The rest can be (and usually is) high-fructose corn syrup or another manufactured sweetener. Juice drinks are far worse than real fruit juice because they have all the calories and fructose but none of the nutrients of natural fruit juice. Juice boxes may also be loaded with artificial coloring and preservatives.
Even though a diet soda shows zero calories and zero sugar on the label, you should stay away from these poisonous beverages. Chemical sweeteners are proven health hazards and appetite stimulants, artificial caramel coloring is a carcinogen, and the phosphoric acid in soda leaches calcium out of your bones. Soda, whether sweetened or unsweetened, doesn’t have a single redeeming quality, so stay away!
If you love the fizz of soda, drink mineral water flavored with a slice of lemon or lime instead.
As you work to wean yourself off sugar, consider using stevia powder as a low-calorie sweetener instead of NutraSweet, saccharin, or any other chemical concoction. Be sure to read the label to confirm that the brand of stevia you buy has no added sugars or artificial sweeteners.
Skipping low-fat options
The United States went through a huge fat-free food craze in the 1990s. Because fat-free food was in demand, food manufacturers added sugar and other flavorings to make up for the taste of the missing fat. At the time, most people didn’t think about calories or sugar content; they were only focused on cutting back on the number of fat grams they ate.
As a result, the amount of sugar consumed annually by the average American has gone up by 40 pounds since 1990 (that’s almost 21 pounds of extra body fat from sugar calories), and obesity rates have more than doubled since then!
Dietary fat is important for a host of vital functions in your body, including producing hormones, conducting nerve impulses, regulating your immune system, absorbing certain vitamins, and building cell membranes.
Dietary fat has the important job of slowing down the breakdown of carbohydrates in your digestive system, so you get a smaller insulin response when you eat fat with your food. Low-fat, high-carb eating increases the amount of insulin that your body produces, leading to obesity and insulin resistance.
Fat has more calories per gram than carbohydrates or protein, so eating fat helps you feel full. Eating a low-fat, high-carb diet puts you on the blood sugar roller coaster, stimulating your appetite and activating sugar cravings.
Not all fats are good fats. Stick with healthy monounsaturated fats from fish, oils, nuts, and seeds while minimizing inflammatory trans fats from hydrogenated oils and saturated fats from feedlot meat and dairy.
Eliminating questionable foods
When in doubt, throw it out (or donate it). All you really need to eat to be healthy is hormone-free protein; a large variety of organic vegetables and fruits; and some essential dietary fat (fish oil, nuts, olive oil, canola oil). Most of your food every day should be composed of these simple, natural items.
If you’re pulling your hair out trying to decipher labels and count sugar grams, stop fretting about the details and make things really simple for yourself: If it’s not a protein, a plant, or a healthy fat, don’t eat it, and don’t buy it for your family.
You have plenty of opportunities to consume sugar and chemicals when you’re out and about, so don’t keep that stuff in your house. If your day-to-day food is healthy and sugar-free, you won’t have to split hairs when you’re eating out at special occasions.