In this article I want to share the reasons why we should all be striving to cut back on the amount of sugar we eat, and how you can achieve this whilst still having an enjoyable and fulfilling diet.
I used to be a self-confessed sugar addict. A day didn’t feel complete without a row or bar of chocolate or without a spoonful of sugar in my tea or coffee and if I had to go a day without having something artificially sweetened I would feel lethargy accompanied by intense withdrawals and a raging headache. I always felt that I had a reliance on sugar and my life would be incomplete without it.
A few months ago, prompted by increasing weight on the scales and a desire to start improving my health and well-being, I decided I would cut down on my sugar intake. The first two weeks of no sugar were difficult – the cravings were relentless and I felt constantly exhausted. But after those two weeks passed I noticed that I felt different – my energy levels were higher, my attention was sharper and my moods were much better overall. After a month’s time the benefits were even more pronounced – I started to lose fat on my belly and felt fitter and stronger.
Beyond these noticeable differences, a small amount of research also revealed a number of other internal health benefits that result from cutting back on sugar.
Improved heart health
Lowering our sugar intake reduces the level of triglycerides in our bodies, which are a fat that can be detrimental to our cardiovascular system. By reducing sugar, we reduce our risks of having heart attacks, strokes or other serious cardiovascular diseases.
Improved skin and teeth
Aspiring for better teeth and skin is more than just an aesthetic goal. Better skin and teeth mean fewer visits to dentists and dermatologists, which can save you a huge amount of money! Lowering our sugar intake can have enormous benefits for skin and teeth – think lower likelihood of acne and fewer cavities and decay.
Reduced risk of serious diseases
There is an extremely well-established body of research that demonstrates that eating too much sugar vastly increases the likelihood of getting serious diseases such as liver disease, obesity, diabetes and cancer. Lower your sugar intake and you drastically reduce your risks of developing these sorts of diseases.
So how can you reduce your sugar intake?
Reducing your sugar intake is not hard as you may think! For me, I focused on completely cutting out added or artificial sugars, whilst still consuming a moderate amount of naturally occurring sugars (e.g. sugars found in fruits).
The easiest way to do this was by replacing my usual chocolate bar with a small quantity of fruit, such as an apple, pear or banana. If this isn’t satisfying enough, you can try spreading some peanut butter or other nut butter on your fruit to make it a little more exciting.
I also took steps to replace soft drinks with other healthy fizzy drinks. For example, I replaced my occasional coke or sprite with a kombucha or a low sugar ginger ale. Investing in a soda stream has also been invaluable as it provides soda water on demand – which can sometimes be all that’s needed to satisfy a craving for a fizzy drink!
Finally, I completely cut out sugar from my daily tea and coffee. While it was initially difficult for me to consume sugar-less hot beverages (the taste was initially very unpleasant), after a few weeks I got used to the taste of coffee and tea without sugar and actually started to really enjoy it!
One thing I’ve learned with sugar is that it is all about training your body to adapt and being patient with it while it develops new habits. I’d encourage you to completely invest in cutting out sugar from your diet for a few weeks and you’ll see how manageable it is to maintain these new positive habits.