1. Beware of Hidden Sugars and Read Labels Carefully
The first step to cutting out refined sugar is starting to read packaging labels very carefully. Always choose “sugar free” or “no sugar added” products.
Absolutely avoid products with labels carrying ingredient names that end with -ose. Sucrose, levulose, cellulose, dextrose and fructose are just different forms of sugar. They can be hidden in products where you least expect to find them, such as ketchup, salad dressings, different sauces, sodas and many other foods that are not necessarily sweet.
Stay away also from natural and organic sugars. They may be organically grown and processed without chemicals, but they are still sugars and they are not always unrefined.
2. Reduce Sugar Slowly and Gradually
Don’t go cold turkey. You could experience withdrawal symptoms and end up having serious “sweet relapses”. Reduce refined sugar intake gradually.
- Start by slowly decreasing the amount of sugar you add to your foods and beverages. At the beginning, eliminate only 1/5 or 1/8 of the total amount of sugar you use. Reduce amounts gradually, until you have completely excluded sugar from your diet.
- Allow yourself a small sweet once in a while. It won’t mass up your diet and it will considerably satisfy your sugar cravings.
3. Rid Your Pantry of Refined Sugar and Don’t Buy Sweets
- Clean out your fridge, kitchen and pantry and get rid of products that contain refined sugar.
- Stop buying sweets and foods that contain even tiny amounts of sugar. Say no to candies, sodas and sweet diary products.
If you really can’t resist, then choose only one small sweet per day. Opt for dark chocolate!
- Learn to make your own BBQ sauces, seasonings and dressings without sugar, or flavor them with small amounts of unrefined sugars or natural sweeteners.
4. Switch to Natural Sugars
Replace refined sugar with natural sweeteners and raw unrefined sugars.
- Use raw honey, jaggery (unrefined non-centrifugal whole cane sugar), sweet sorghum syrup, sugar cane or sugar beet molasses, and maple or yacón syrup. They are still sugar, but they don’t dramatically increase blood sugar levels and some of them contain many beneficial nutrients.
- Opt for stevia, a natural no-fat and no-calorie sweetener, derived from a South American plant. One of the greatest Health Benefits of Stevia is that it does not affect blood sugar levels like fructose or refined sugar. For this reason it considerably helps the body maintain proper glucose levels in a completely natural way.
5. Substitute Flavors and Modify Recipes
- Experiment with cinnamon, orange peel, peppermint, ginger, almond extract, and other flavors. They will give a delicious taste to your recipes and reduce your need for sugar.
- Use fruits to sweeten your cakes. Frozen, mashed or freshly cut fruits, juices, purees and dried figs, raisins and dates, will give an amazing sweet flavor to your baked goods, creams and yogurts.
6. Consume More Complex Carbohydrates
Fruits, vegetables and starches are rich in natural sugars, fiber, vitamins and minerals. They contain complex carbohydrates that will keep your sweet cravings at bay and your blood sugar levels stable.
Complex carbohydrates are made up of many sugar units, which are more difficult to break down, and are therefore absorbed from the intestine into the bloodstream more gradually than simple sugars. This keeps blood sugar levels stable, preventing you from needing quick supplies of sugar to provide energy.
7. Keep Stress Under Control
Anxiety, nervousness, frustration, depression and other negative emotional states often make us seek psychological comfort from foods, and from sweets, in particular. Try to determine the real causes of your sugar cravings and if they are of psychological nature, focus on controlling them, by helping yourself lead a healthier and more fulfilling emotional life.