Why take this challenge to eat less sweets?
To lose weight. Sugar is carbohydrate and processed sugars can be addictive. We tend to overeat processed carbs, which leads to weight gain.
To get better blood sugars. We all know too much sugar is not good for diabetes. But managing overall carb portions is key to keeping blood sugars in target.
To reduce inflammation. Most people don’t realize they have inflammation going on in their body. If you have diabetes you have inflammation. If you eat alot of processed food you likely have inflammation. Any chronic health problem has inflammation as an underlying problem.
To feel better or get more energy.
Choose Your Approach
You can choose 1 of 2 ways to cut back on sweets.
1. Eliminate sweets completely
Sugar can be addicting and how you approach cutting your sweets intake depends on what you feel works best for you. Some people need to cut out all sweets for a few weeks until they no longer have cravings.
2. Reduce sweets or substitute healthier sweets
Other people can cut back on how much and how often they eat sweets or substitute fresh fruit for their sweets. There is no right or wrong approach. If you feel you need a little each day and can manage to eat small portions that can work.
First take a few minutes to identify the times you find know you are likely to grab sweets such as candy, candy bars, cookies, etc.
- Donuts, muffins, or other sweets for breakfast
- Dessert after meals
- Morning snack
- Afternoon snack
- Evening time while watching TV
- When I stop for gas station/convenience store
- Drive thru on the way home from work
- At my workspace, break room or in my desk
- Vending machine on my break at work
- When I am stressed or bored
- On vacation
- At family gatherings
- Social or sporting events
- When I make sweets for my family or grandchildren
- When I get cravings
Now take a look at these ideas and note any or all that you want to try to help you cut back on the obvious sweets and hidden sugars.
Set yourself a daily carb limit.
For myself, a middle-aged woman that is slightly to moderately active, I set my low limit at 100 grams/day. Men usually need more carbs. And remember your body does need some carbs, it just does not need the processed sugar carbs that cause inflammation and craving for more sugar.
Cut back on carbs gradually, in phases.
Maybe you should see where your daily intake is before you cut it all out. If you have been eating 300 grams daily then doing 50 or 100 is going to be an extreme change for your body to adjust to. Maybe try 50 grams less every few days.
Just look for Total Carbohydrate grams on packages or use Calorie King to look up foods, including chain restaurants.
Add veggies to meals and have fruit for snacks.
The sugar in fresh fruit is not harmful to your body like processed sugar is because it contains fiber, water and disease fighting nutrients. Write out a plan and weekly grocery shopping list and have the fruit ready to grab and eat. For example, if you buy melons, make sure you cut it up once you are home and have it ready to grab for a quick snack.
Eat protein at each meal.
Protein helps control hunger and stabilize blood sugar. For example cereal for breakfast is high carb and low protein. You tend to get hungry 2 hours after cereal, or might even experience low blood sugar. If you have a breakfast of eggs with 1 toast you get much less carb and good, healthy protein, and don’t get hungry as soon.
Check for hidden sugars.
Many foods you wouldn’t think of as sweets have hidden sugar that might trigger cravings for more sugar. For example, does your salad dressing have high fructose corn syrup? That’s a form of sugar – and a very unhealthy sugar. And it’s in ALOT of processed foods.
Make sure you are in the right mindset before you start.
You have to be ready to problem solve hunger and cravings, plan ahead, have the fruits, veggies and protein foods available and keep sweets out of sight, BUT you also have to have a plan for when you get off track. There will always be roadblocks that throw you off and if you plan for that it will be easier.
Set yourself up for success.
Avoid the temptation of candy bars by staying out of the convenience store and paying for your gas at the pump.
Clean the sweets out of your kitchen/pantry so you don’t have temptations in the house. Agree on a rule that if you want sweets you have to make them or go out for them. Have something healthier available that you can portion control to one small serving daily but won’t be tempted to overeat. For me that’s dark chocolate chips.
Talk to family members about doing this challenge with you, or at the very least, being supportive of your efforts.
Get a coach for problem solving and support. Contact me if you want information on my coaching programs.
Set aside time each week to plan your meals and snack foods.
Choose how often you might make a small dessert or go out for ice cream.
Make the kitchen/dining room table the only eating area for meals and snacks. Avoid eating while watching TV unless it’s portion-controlled popcorn for movie night.
Change the way you think about portions. Practice thinking yourself: “tiny portions.” When you consistently eat much smaller portions than usual, your stomach will shrink, you will get full quicker, and your blood sugars will improve because your body can manage small amounts of carbohydrate much easier than large portions.
Schedule a call with me to talk about how you can reach your weight, blood sugar or other wellness goals with a customized nutrition and meal plan!