8 Simple Ways to Get Sugar Out of Your Life

Sugar doesn’t just add on pounds—it’s seriously hazardous to your health. 

Medically reviewed in September 2020

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Everyone is talking about sugar, but what are they doing about it? It’s my fervent wish that they—and you—are working on quitting the stuff. Why? The short answer is that sugar is an extraordinarily destructive substance that most people eat far too much of. More studies are proving what we in the optimal health community have always believed: Sugar plays a pivotal role in the development of devastating illnesses such as heart disease, cancer and diabetes.

The body does need trace amounts of sugar to function, but the average American is eating sugar by the pound, not the molecule. Here are eight ways you can break free and get sugar out of your life.

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1. Eat regularly.

Eat three meals and two snacks or five small meals a day. For many people, if they don’t eat regularly, their blood sugar levels drop, they feel hungry and are more likely to crave sweet sugary snacks.

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2. Choose whole foods.

The closer a food is to its original form, the less processed sugar it will contain. Food in its natural form, including fruits and vegetables, usually presents fewer metabolic problems for a normal body, especially when consumed in variety.

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3. Eat to control cravings.

Have a breakfast of protein, fat and phytonutrients to start your day off right. Breakfast smoothies are ideal for this. The typical breakfast full of carbs and sugary or starchy foods is the worst option since you’ll have cravings all day. Eating a good breakfast is essential to prevent sugar cravings.

Try to incorporate protein and/or fat with each meal. This helps control blood sugar levels. Make sure they are healthy sources of each.

Add spices. Coriander, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and cardamom will naturally sweeten your foods and reduce cravings.

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4. Take care of your body and mind.

Get moving. Exercise, dance or do some yoga. Whatever movement you enjoy will help reduce tension, boost your energy and decrease your need for a sugar lift.

Get enough sleep. When we are tired we often use sugar for energy to counteract the exhaustion.

Be open to explore the emotional issues around your sugar addiction. Many times our craving for sugar is more for an emotional need that isn’t being met.

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5. Keep sugary snacks out of your house and office.

It’s difficult to snack on things that aren’t there! And don’t substitute artificial sweeteners for sugar. This will do little to alter your desire for sweets. 

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6. Learn to read labels.

Although I would encourage you to eat as few foods as possible that have labels, educate yourself about what you’re putting into your body. The longer the list of ingredients, the more likely sugar is going to be included. So check the grams of sugar, and choose products with the least sugar per serving (I teaspoon of sugar is roughly equivalent to about 4 grams). Become familiar with sugar terminology and recognize that all of these are sweeteners: agave, corn syrup, corn sugar, high fructose corn syrup, sucrose, dextrose, honey, cane sugar, cane crystals, fruit juice concentrates, molasses, turbinado sugar and brown sugar.

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7. Recognize sugar in disguise.

Remember that most of the “complex” carbohydrates we consume like bread, bagels and pasta aren’t really complex at all. They are usually highly refined or act just like sugars in the body and are to be avoided.

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8. Scare yourself straight.

While I won’t say our national love affair with sugar is all in the mind, there is a strong physical component to sugar addiction. One way to kick off your sugar-free journey is to re-frame the way you think about sugar. Treat it like an illicit drug, a dark force to be avoided and a substance whose use leads to physical ruin.

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2 Ways to Conquer Cravings

Distract yourself. Go for a walk, or take a “breathing break,” where you find a quiet spot and sit for a few minutes focusing on your breath. Cravings usually last for 10-20 minutes maximum. If you can distract yourself, it often passes. The more you do this, the easier it gets and the cravings get easier to deal with.

Eat a piece of fruit. If you truly need something sweet, have a piece of fruit. It is a much healthier option.

Dr. Lipman, an integrative medical specialist, is the author of The New Health Rules: Simple Changes to Achieve Whole-Body Wellness. 

This content was originally published on Dr. Frank Lipman’s Be Well Blog.

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