Welcome to 31 Days of Resolutions! Turning the calendar to a new year has NEVER felt better. Oola is here to celebrate with inspiration and motivation for each day of January. Check out the rest of our resolutions here.
When it comes to sugar intake, the Spice Girls said it best back in 1997: too much of something is bad enough; too much of nothing is just as tough. Sugar is a well-loved staple in most diets, naturally occurring in carbohydrates like fruits, vegetables, grains, and dairy. But too much sugar can quickly turn not-so-sweet.
Excessive sugar intake is a common problem in the United States. The average American consumes 17 teaspoons of sugar every day—that weighs in at 57 pounds of added sugar consumed each year, per person. This sugary excess can lead to acne; tooth decay; weight gain and obesity; diabetes and insulin resistance; cardiovascular disease; aging skin; and even cancer.
As more people resolve to better themselves in the new year, deciding to lessen or quit sugar intake entirely is a great place to start. However, sugar can have incredibly addictive effects on the brain, so quitting cold turkey is not recommended. Instead, try these simple, effective ways to lessen or eliminate your sugar intake.
Breaking a sweet tooth habit can be as challenging as (or even more difficult than) quitting tobacco, alcohol, or other drugs. Sometimes, a little help goes a long way, and Sweet Defeat offers a much-needed boost to make long-lasting dietary changes for a better, healthier you.
Sweet Defeat offers gums, sprays, and lozenges that work to reduce sugar consumption by curbing sugar cravings altogether. Gymnema extract and zinc work synergistically to temporarily block the sweet taste buds on the tongue. Sweet Defeat’s gum also features the mineral chromium, which is proven to help improve lean body mass and insulin resistance. These three ingredients work together to make sticking to the rest of this list an absolute breeze.
Switch Sodas for Carbonated Water
A single 20 oz bottle of Coke contains 16 teaspoons of sugar—94% of the average American’s daily sugar consumption. Drinking sugary sodas throughout the day can skyrocket your daily caloric and sugar intake without offering any true nutrition or a “full and satisfied” feeling. Since many people crave the carbonation of sodas as much as the sugar and caffeine, try substituting your favorite soda with flavored seltzer water.
Seltzer water has no sugar or calories and comes in a wide range of familiar flavors, from fruity lemon-lime to classic root beer. Even if you’re a diehard diet drinker, the transition from soda to seltzer only gets easier with time. Cheers!
Spice Things Up a Bit
Rather than adding extra sugar to baked goods, hot cereals, and other meals in need of a “little something,” try incorporating naturally sugar-free spices instead. Not only does this offer deliciously different flavor options, but it’s also considerably healthier. Rather than reaching for brown sugar, chocolate syrup, or other sugary toppings, try cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, allspice, anise, or fennel.
Switch Up Your Sauce
Switching out sugary condiments like ketchup, barbecue sauce, and creamy salad dressings for salsa, vinaigrettes, mustards, or hot pepper sauces is an easy way to decrease daily sugar intake without drastic dietary changes. This flavor-infused balsamic vinegar is so good, we promise you won’t think twice about ditching that side of ranch. For a dash of sweetness to offset any sugary cravings, try this amazingly easy sweet and spicy pineapple salsa.
Try Baking With Applesauce
Want to cut back on sugar but not on baking sweet treats? Unsweetened applesauce is the nutritious gamechanger of the baking world; it can be used as a substitute for butter or oil, eggs, and even sugar. To continue making all your best culinary creations while simultaneously decreasing your sugar intake, swap unsweetened applesauce for sugar in a 1:1 ratio.
Pro tip: Since applesauce has significantly more liquid than granulated sugar, the overall amount of liquid in the recipe must be reduced. Usually, this will be milk or water. Reducing the other liquids by about ¼ of a cup should probably work, but we see no harm in experimenting to find what suits your taste buds best—the only thing better than some baked treats is more baked treats.
Watch Out for White Bread
Even the healthiest of sandwiches can still contain up to 1½ teaspoons of sugar if they’re made on white, oat, or even highly processed whole wheat bread. Many people opt for bread- or bun-less sandwiches when cutting back on carbohydrates, but we believe a sandwich shouldn’t stray far from the classic bread-filling-bread composition.
Swapping these sugary breads with healthier options like pumpernickel or rye can kick your sandwich game up a couple of notches without skyrocketing your sugar intake.
Don’t Forbid Your Favorites
Quitting sugar cold turkey can lead to broken resolutions and disappointment, and depriving yourself of your favorite sweets will only expedite the process. Rather than trying to completely eliminate foods you once enjoyed regularly, try reducing your regular serving size first.
For example, if you normally eat a full candy bar a day, try cutting back to one half of a candy bar every day or every other day. If you’re used to eating ice cream straight from the carton, portioning your serving into a separate bowl can help prevent sugar overload.
Opt for Full Fat
Yep, it might seem counterintuitive, but choosing the full-fat option might be healthier in the long run. Low-fat substitutes of yogurt, peanut butter, and salad dressings are often pumped with sugar to make up for the flavor lost by reducing the fat. In a Morissette-level of irony, low-fat versions of foods can contain more sugar and more calories than their full-fat counterparts—so go ahead and enjoy that regular ol’ crunchy Jif worry-free.
Do Yourself a Favor and Remove Temptation
When the midnight sugary snack cravings hit, even the most strong-willed people are liable to fall victim to a stray Little Debbie cake hiding in the cupboard. A house fully stocked with only “bad” foods is bound to invite a setback or two, and why make a new year’s resolution any harder than it has to be? Cut yourself some slack and remove tempting, overly-processed sweets from the kitchen/pantry altogether.
Removing sugary temptation in a shared household can be difficult, so consider which option would work best for your roommates: a household commitment to lower sugar intake is the easiest option, but you can also cut back cravings by asking any uninterested roomies to stash their sweets elsewhere.
Most Importantly, Listen to Your Body
Cravings for something sweet can often be the sign of a bigger issue. While we can’t condone giving in to every sugar craving, we do recommend giving each sweet-tooth urge credence; it might be your body trying to tell you something important.
Sudden, strong chocolate cravings can mean the body is deficient in magnesium (which, luckily, also happens to be found in dark chocolate). Nuts, bananas, legumes, and tofu are also great sources of magnesium. Other possible causes of sugary cravings include a vitamin or mineral deficiency (in which case, whole fruits and veggies are a safe bet), blood sugar fluctuations, or dehydration.
Attending to these needs first before addressing that hankering for a Hersheys can decrease overall sugar intake and keeps you in sync with your body’s natural processes.