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There is a reason why the energy spike you get after consuming sugary foods (a.k.a sugar rush) is called "empty calories" in health circles.
This is because sugars can provide your body with pure energy but no nutrients, like vitamins, minerals, and proteins, that are necessary for maintaining all the internal organs in your body.
That's why those who fill up their daily calorie requirements with just sugary substances often end up with severe dietary deficiencies in the long run.
And that's not the worst thing sugars can do to your body.
From causing insulin-resistant type 2 diabetes to non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, consuming too much of sugar over the years will land you in the hospital with a ginormous medical bill. Guaranteed!
And it will also make you fat to boot.
So, if you are wondering how to stop eating sugar, read on. Because in this article, we have outlined 23 life hacks for you that will help you cut out this insidious and addictive substance from your diet without going cold turkey.
#1 Say “yes” to natural sugars.
All calories are not equal. And neither are all sugars.
In fact, the natural sugars found in fruits, vegetables, and plain dairy products like milk and cheese are processed differently by your body as compared to artificially produced sugars like corn syrup, sucralose, and refined sugar because these sugars are accompanied by a lot of fibres, vitamins, and minerals.
So cut out all refined sugar products from your diet and switch to sweet fruits and veggies to satisfy your sweet tooth. You will find them bland initially, since your taste buds are used to have concentrated synthetic sugars, but with time, you will start to appreciate the wonderful texture of natural sugars.
#2 Stop drinking aerated soft drinks.
Soft drinks and sodas are packed with a lot of added sugar. In fact, a small 500 ml bottle of Coke contains a whopping 53 g of sugar in it! Or 205 calories from just the sugar.
And diet sodas and drinks are no different because the manufacturers replace the refined sugar in them with artificial sweeteners, which studies have shown can fool our body into producing the same cascade of reactions, including diabetes and weight gain.
#3 Make your own fruit juice.
If you think that consuming "all-natural" fruit juices are a good alternative to having fruits, then you would be wrong. Why? Because these juices lose all their fibre content during the manufacturing process and are stocked up with added sugars to get you addicted so you buy more of them.
A better idea is to just have the fresh fruit or juice it at home, so you at least get to have the fibres in them too.
#4 Buy the unsweetened version of every product.
From unsweetened cereal to unsweetened yoghurt, the market has a lot of healthy options for you. So make the smarter choice and go for these products, as they will help you lose up to 10 pounds of weight in a year!
#5 Go shopping on a full stomach.
Have you ever noticed that you tend to overeat after a prolonged period of hunger? Or that the blandest food tastes delicious when you are hungry and then stops tasting so good once you are full?
These weird (yet fascinating) things happen to us when we are hungry because our bodies are very good at tricking us into getting the sustenance we need...and then some.
So make it point to go shopping when you are full because that way you will be in complete control of what you put into your shopping basket and won't be induced to reach for the unhealthy, sugar-laden goodies because you are dying of hunger and your body needs energy RIGHT NOW!
#6 Have a sweet fruit when you crave something sweet.
Next time you crave a bar of chocolate or a slice of cake, choose a sweet fruit instead, like watermelon, banana, or a ripe papaya. This will satisfy your sweet tooth and will stop you from packing on thousands of calories.
Just remember to have a handful of nuts along with the fruit to help you feel full faster.
#7 Don’t eat dry fruits.
You may think dried fruits are free of added sugar, but you would be wrong.
This is because most dry fruit manufacturers soak them in sweetened sugar syrups before drying them up, so you get addicted to them because of the sugar rush.
#8 Chew fennel seeds (saunf) to cut off your dessert cravings.
If you always crave a dessert after a meal, buy a bottle of fennel seeds and chew on a few of them after your meal.
These wonderful seeds are excellent mouth-fresheners that have natural sugars in them to curb your craving and can also help you digest your meal better.
#9 Have a cup of tea when you can’t resist your sugar craving.
Next time you crave a sugar hit, brew yourself a cup of tea with a spoonful of honey to help you resist it.
You can even experiment with different varieties of teas, like cinnamon, chamomile, and mint tea, to prevent boredom.
#10 Balance out your unhealthy meal with something healthy.
Since this guide is not about going cold turkey and cutting out all sugars from your diet completely, here's a healthier alternative for you when you absolutely must have a sugar hit.
Instead of making your entire meal unhealthy, eat only half of it and fill yourself up the rest of the way with something healthy, like fruits or veggies.
#11 Have a savoury breakfast in the morning.
Studies have shown that those who eat sweet things in the morning crave more sugar throughout the day.
So, break this habit and switch to savoury meals instead, as they will fill you up just the same but will not induce any sugar cravings.
#12 Flavor your own yoghurt.
If you like fruity yoghurts, it's time to stop. These bowls of deliciousness always have added sugars in them to keep you coming back for more.
Instead, buy plain curd or greek yoghurt and then add some chopped fruits and a pinch of cinnamon in it to give it some au-naturale flavour!
#13 Eat dark chocolate rather than the milky ones.
Regular milk chocolate is packed with sugars. So, if you love the taste of cacao, switch to dark chocolate instead to satisfy your taste buds.
In fact, dark chocolate leaves a sweet aftertaste in your mouth, while milk chocolate is known for its sour aftertaste, which makes you crave for it more than the former.
#14 Have tomato salsa instead of tomato sauce.
If you like tomato sauce with your pasta or fries, switch to fresh salsa by chopping up a batch of fresh tomatoes at home and having them with your food instead. This is because tomatoes are naturally sweet and do not need the extra sugar manufacturers pack into ketchups.
#15 Buy unsweetened milk alternatives.
If you are lactose intolerant, make sure you have the unsweetened version of the alternatives as manufacturers often add extra sugar in them to balance out the yucky taste.
#16 Stay away from energy bars.
Energy bars are good for you if you are running a marathon. If not, then stay away from them, as they are packed with sugars that will do you no good in your sedentary lifestyle.
#17 Stay away from sports drinks.
Like energy bars, sports drinks are packed with sugars other than electrolytes, and therefore, cancel out all the calories you burned in the gym or during the game.
Instead, have a glass of fresh coconut water, since it contains all the necessary electrolytes and has a pleasant and mild sweet taste.
#18 Skip the peanut butter.
If you like the taste of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, here's a better alternative for you. Have the jelly sandwiches with a handful of salted peanuts on the side. The latter is much better for your health than the former, since manufactured peanut butter spreads are chock-full of sugars and other harmful additives.
#19 Ask for sugar-free versions of restaurant drinks.
If you love the strawberry smoothie of your neighborhood cafe or always order an oreo shake when out on a date, ask the waiter for a sugar-free version the next time.
It won't cost them anything to subtract an ingredient, therefore most restaurants will gladly acquiesce to your request.
#20 Stop eating sugary breakfast cereal.
Most breakfast cereals with fancy shapes and gimmicks are full of sugar to attract children and keep them (and us) reaching out for more.
So if you love to have a bowl of cereal with milk for breakfast, switch to an unsweetened box of regular cornflakes, branflakes, or even cracked wheat to fill up your stomach instead.
#21 Get atleast 8 hours of sleep every day.
Studies have proven that those who sleep less or are insomniac tend to gain more weight than their well-slept counterparts.
This is because the more hours you stay up, the more your body craves for energy, especially sugars, which ultimately leads to midnight binges and unhealthy food choices.
#22 Stop eating white bread.
You may not think so, but white bread is actually a devilish food in the disguise of an angel.
Why? Because it is made of refined white flour (which is bad for your health) and at least 2 g of sugar! No wonder people are addicted to that stuff.
So quit having white bread, and instead switch to its plain-Jane cousin, the brown bread, or its more health-conscious relative, the wholegrain bread.
#23 Have honey instead.
Honey has five different types of natural sugars in it along with antioxidants and other medicinal compounds, since it is a natural product made by bees. That's why, it is five times sweeter than refined sugar, and better able to curb your sugar cravings than the latter.
Plus, it has a mild anti-diabetic effect, which regular sugar does not have!