If you’ve been following the “Week o’ sugar” posts (click here to read 1, 2, 3, 4), you should have a better understanding of the impact of sugar on your body, as well as some idea of how to start cutting back. But knowing what to do and actually doing it, are two totally different things. Here’s a few tips to help you get started along a sugarless (or maybe just lesser?) path.
Taking stock of your sugar intake is a great first step. You can never go wrong keeping a food diary, whether your goal is to lose weight or just get a snapshot of your eating habits. Research backs me up here, and so does anecdotal evidence from folks who’ve successfully maintained significant weight loss. You don’t have to record your food forever; three days (including one weekend day) will be enough to see what you’re really consuming (track drinks too!), and identify some areas for change.
Next it’s time to set goals. Some people like to go cold turkey, and if that’s worked for you in the past, it might work again. Coaching psychology advocates setting manageable, weekly goals to build self efficacy. Early success boosts confidence and makes it easier to tackle harder, future goals.
For example, do you drink two sodas a day? Cut out one. How about daily Starbucks runs for a big ‘ol frothy, whipped creamed coffee drink? Maybe you could whittle that down to three times a week. You get the idea.
If you’re still not sure where to start, check out this previous post, featuring 10 tips to decrease added sugar. It’s written as a guide to help parents cut back their kids’ sugar intake, but it’s just as relevant for adults. Look at the list with your family or friends and decide on one action to take together. Support from those around you really helps.
What if, even after all you’ve read, you’re still not ready to make a change? That’s ok too. You might not be actively reducing sugar in your diet, but you’re here, reading this, and that’s a step too.
Finally, because I’ve shared a little about my sugar struggles with you, I thought you might be curious about the sugar situation at my house. Here’s what I think we do right:
- No soda, ever. Not in the house at least, and once in a blue moon while at a BBQ or something. I don’t even remember the last soda I had, and my kids, never. At least not endorsed by Mike and me. Some bubbly beverage might have slipped across their lips while in the care of others, but others have been smart enough not to tell us. Obviously, we both feel strongly about this. I will say, recently my cousin introduced me to this “Dry Soda,” which is like flavored sparkling water. The flavors I drink have 60 calories or less, and are just a little more exciting than plain water. There is added sugar, but it’s less than half the amount in a can of Coke. I occasionally drink one of these with dinner, or maybe as a “treat” after dinner. I’ve given up alcohol and dessert; I’ve gotta have a little joy.
- We do drink some 100 percent fruit juice. Usually the kids have a small glass once a day (often at breakfast), but we cut it with ice and water. Otherwise, we stick to water and milk. Mike and I also dilute any juice we drink, though I’ll be honest, he dilutes his way more than I do mine. He also drinks more than me. I might have one small glass of water/juice with breakfast a couple of times a week, if that.
- I’ve researched common foods (bread, peanut butter, yogurt, etc.) and found the brands with the lowest amount of added sugar. I also stopped buying commercial salad dressing, and either make my own, or use cottage cheese or avocado to add flavor to salads.
- We eat very few pre-packaged or processed foods (i.e. frozen dinners, crackers, granola bars, or other snack foods). This is a change I’ve implemented more recently, and it’s going well. No complaints from the kids, though a few from Mike about the lack of crackers. We eat cereal (though I try to avoid it), but never sugary cereals.
- Dessert is a “special treat,” rather than an everyday thing. We do ice cream, small pieces of candy, or the occasional cookie from the local bakery, but it tends to be a one-time thing, rather than a pantry staple. I also love to bake, so sometimes we have quick breads, cookies or bars in the house. I try to give away some of what I make so we’re not eating treats for days on end.
Now, for what needs work:
- Too much alcohol. This bothers me much more than it bothers Mike, who enjoys a beer (or two, or . . .). I have a love/hate relationship with my libations. I love a glass of wine or a margarita (probably the worst mixed drink you could choose), but I hate that drinking causes me to eat more junk. Plus, alcohol calories really add up quickly, but don’t register as filling. For that reason I’ve cut it out, for now.
- Too many sweets (for me). Like I said earlier in the week, Mike doesn’t have a major sweet tooth, and we manage to keep the kids pretty reigned in. I’m the one who really struggles. I tend to splurge on candy, cookies, ice cream, and my all-time favorite: cake. I like my sugar straight. I’m 95 percent healthy-eater, and 5 percent sugar fiend. That’s why I challenged myself to cut out the sweet treats entirely, at least for a while. I don’t have much room for change in my regular diet, but I can cut out the sugary extras. I’ll update you on my progress, and I’d love to hear about yours.
Wow, that turned out to be a much longer post than I planned. Sorry for the lack of pictures, but I figured if you’re trying to cut back on sugar, you didn’t need be tempted by images of yummy sweets.
I hope you’ve gotten something out of this “Week o’ sugar,” even if it’s just a laugh about Mike’s Deff Leppard karaoke.