Ahh the infamous discussion of sugar… sugar comes in all shapes, forms, and sizes. It is truly, in almost everything.
I attribute a low-sugar lifestyle as one of the main ways I maintain a fit figure. Okay so how do we avoid it?! As I talked in a recent blog “Getting down to the basics of being fit” it’s mostly about finding a balance and using moderation. But, there are some key things that I should reiterate and expand on.
Before I do, I want to preface that I am not a dietician, and have no professional training/education in food. But, I have learned a great deal from Greg, who has worked with some of the top trainers and dieticians in the world. This is a groove that has taken me years to get into, I TRY to be consistent with but don’t drive myself crazy doing it. These little hacks are what has worked for me but that doesn’t mean it’s a solution for you.
Watching your sugar intake & making these changes is a small, yet important step in a road to a healthy lifestyle. It will look different for us all- so please always remember that!
Read Your Food Labels
This is something I will continue to touch on, read the labels of what you are eating and drinking! I think most of the sugar that people consume is not from candy or soda, but from food that we perceive to be healthy or OK for us, but are actually packed with sugar.
Example: Naked Juice, Jamba Juice, Coffee Drinks, Breakfast Foods (muffins, scones), Granola Bars, Cereal,
I am not suggesting that you eliminate these things from your diet (except maybe Naked Juice) but look at the labels and see if there is a better choice between them. Try to stick to drinks with 0-8 grams of sugar.
Make Substitutions in Recipes
I am Queen of trying to substitute things in recipes in an effort to make them healthy. Tbh this has resulted in ALOT of bad baked goods. I’ve learned that I am no baking scientist, so subbing yogurt for oil makes for a weird bread texture- rather find recipes online that are proven to be good and use theirs! Often recipes call for way too much sugar to begin with. Banana bread for example does not need granulated sugar. Ripe bananas contain enough natural sugar to sweeten the recipe. See my favorite banana bread recipe from Cookie + kate here!
This isn’t sugar related, but if you are into making salads and it calls for mayo, try subbing it for plain greek yogurt.
Out to eat? Order the water.
This one can be hard to commit to. Myself, like others, like to wash a meal down with something other than water. But, within the last 6 months, I have changed my mindset and made it a standard to only order water or soda water with a lemon/lime (of course, unless wine is involved) and, I haven’t missed the soda even a bit with my meal.
Take the decision out of the equation- don’t think about it.
Ask for Sugar free
I love my Caribou and Starbucks. In college, I used to get a frappe almost daily! But holy cow- I had no idea how much sugar was in those drinks. Order sugar-free when you get a coffee or order drinks with no extra flavoring. At first, you might not like the flavor of the sugar free, and only certain syrups are available- but you will get used to it, I promise!
**Make your own coffee?
I am really proud of myself for this tip…
I recently got the Nespresso Inissia Espresso Maker and milk frother and started making my own lattes at home. Sometimes I wanted a little extra flavoring… I have been adding a little bit of the Walden Farms sugar-free caramel, chocolate, or maple walnut syrup to my milk before it is frothed and it gives just the right amount of flavor and sweetness!
My favorite Low Cal/Sugar Starbucks Orders:
Café Au Lait
Mint Majesty Hot Tea
Skinny Vanilla Latte
Cold Brew w/ Splash of Cream
Or my favorite Low Cal/Sugar Coffee Drinks for on the Go:
Milk is another drink that even with it’s health benefits, you can’t ignore that it contains a lot of sugar. We recently made the switch to FairLife Milk which is ultra-filtered, so it contains 2x the protein, and ½ the sugar. The shelf-life is 3x regular milk and we think it tastes better. It can be expensive- so if you aren’t cool with the price tag than switch to unsweetened coconut or almond milk.
Eliminate the really bad stuff from your cupboard.
I grew up in a household that didn’t have very many sweets. Y’all know the family that has bowls of candy spread around the house, right? It’s kind of simple… don’t be that house! We are creatures of habit and once you have it in the house you will eat it. Don’t buy candy and only have sweets in your house on special occasions.
Yesterday at Easter we were laughing reminiscing about how when our cousins would come over on holidays my brother (when he was younger, of course) would dance around and say “It’s Pop day! It’s Pop Day!” My cousins used to look at us like we were crazy, because they got to have soda whenever they wanted. As adults neither of my siblings or I drink soda regularly and I like to attribute part of it to my Mom’s special “Pop Days” lol.
Here are things that we do not have in our house (well, most of the time!):
Candy, Maple Syrup, Canned Fruit, White Bread, Granulated Sugar (I use Truvia baking sugar if I really need it), and Juice.
But, there are some things I’m just NOT willing to give up… like waffles.
Here are some This OVER That items to try below(not all relative to sugar):
Sparkling Water OVER Soda Pop
Whole Wheat Pre-Sliced Sandwich Thins OVER White Bread
Kodiak Cakes Power Pix (try the frozen pre-made waffles too!) OVER Eggo
Walden Farms Syrup OVER Aunt Jemima
Amy’s Light and Lean Macaroni and Cheese OVER Other Frozen/box Mac & Cheese
Mustard OVER Mayo
Turkey Sausage OVER Bacon
Powdered Peanut Butter OVER Spreadable (smoothies only)
Have a Big- Healthy Breakfast
If you’ve noticed a trend in the items that have a lot of sugar, a majority of them are breakfast foods.
First, don’t skip breakfast!!!
Think of it as the foundation for the rest of your day. A good breakfast for me, eliminates cravings and keeps me on a good meal schedule for the rest of the day.
Hard-boiled eggs, avocado toast, overnight oats, healthy granola bars, low-sugar greek yogurts, or a protein shake are all good options for breakfast.
Here are some of my favorite low-calorie protein bars for the morning after a workout:
Mauer Sports Nutrition Protein Bars (Dark Chocolate coconut crunch are my favorite) (very high in fat, FYI)
Lastly: So you NEED something sweet- what should you have?
Have just one!
You shouldn’t make it a goal to never have sweets again… that is not what this post is about. But limit yourself to a number. Maybe it’s Christmas time and you’ve been doing really well with your sugar intake, so tell yourself you get 2 cookies for the day. Or on any occasion where you know sweets will be around- tell yourself: just one slice, just one cookie, just one bite! It takes self-control, so don’t be shy about telling your partner or one of your girlfriends to hold you accountable.
If you need something sweet, but still want to keep sugar in mind, here are a few ideas to curve your craving:
Hot tea with Honey
A handful of semi-sweet chocolate chips
Fruit with 0 Calorie Whip Cream
0 Cal Lifesaver Mints
I will close with something that goes without saying – but if you are serious about cutting back on sugar then you need to stay disciplined! The more you cave and eat candy/sugary drinks, the more your body will crave them.
If you stick to your guns, and eliminate the extra sugars possible, your body stops relying on the sugar and in turn, you will stop craving it!
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