Staying Fit: How to Cut Back on Sugar and Find Suitable Alternatives

A lovely finish to a meal, loaded in most breakfast and tea time treats. What are we talking? Sweet. With all its sweet seepage in our lives. Nowadays just about every other thing contains some form of sugar. Even savory food can pack on a lot of those pesky cubes and can contribute to sweetness in over 40% of our daily diet through sauces (ketchups, dressings etc.), soups, dairy products, beverages, baked goods, preserves and confectionary. Your average Chinese can have 20g sweeteners per 100g of food/sauce.

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PHOTO: luvoinc

You might not have to completely strike out all sugars; your body does need some after all. Here a few experts can help you skimp on some treacliness, thank you Kristie Scott-Dixon (director of education at Precision Nutrition), Brian St. Pierre (registered dietitian at Precision Nutrition) and Dr. Holly Lofton (director of the Medical Weight Management Program at NYU Langone Medical Center).

Welcome your cravings but keep an eye on the quantity

Holding a hand back on your cravings has never been an easy task and it seems like the effort has been made since forever; it has been too long since I had those lemon bars, I haven’t had my favorite triple chocolate cake in ages! So what really happens when that chocolate cake sits in all its frosted splendor in front of you. A slice, or two. Or three. One big fat slice equal to half the cake. You definitely would not be the only one doing that.

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Your mind tells you to treat yourself to an animalistic helping after thinking that you had held back long enough and the speed by which the sweet is downed can be compared to a running cheetah. That speed does not allow you to thoroughly enjoy what you are eating and so you keep taking more and more of it. St. Pierre tells us that a reasonable amount taken on a regular basis would be better than totally lashing out periodically but the key here is to truly savor it. Go slow. Taste every bite and munch. Really value your intake. “Don’t gobble the chocolate; nibble it and let it melt in your mouth. Be present with it,” says Scott-Dixon.

Track your eating habits that draw you to sweets and tackle them

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May be your way of tending to being idle is by taking a trip to the kitchen where you can find a sweet nibble, may be sweetness comes as a savior in stress eating or may be you feel the need to satisfy your sweet tooth every time you see something sweet. Try to counter whatever your habit. Swap out the sweet picks for healthier alternatives and snacks. Calm yourself down with a warm shower, bathe in a tub, talk to a friend when stressed. Keep the sweets out of sight. Out of sight, out of mind!

Work on omitting stress eating by keeping away from tantalizing foods

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Lofton tells us about combating stress eating by cognitive-behavioral therapy, “You can make a new brain pathway, which means making a new behavior”. For example if you are disturbed, sad, tense or angry and by habit you grab your jacket, hit the road, walk to a nearby shop and buy a sweet treat, you can train yourself by doing this act exactly in your habitual pattern but don’t end it by getting yourself that sweet. Pull on the jacket, walk to the shop, buy a bottle of water or some herbal tea and head back. This will condition the mind that one can go to the store and walk out with just water.

Perhaps don’t totally wipe out the sugar and carbs

We always set unrealistic targets for ourselves that we end up, nearly always, ruining. Then comes the stress of not doing well and evidently comes the stress eating. Vicious cycle. By putting a big red cross on sugar, like mentioned earlier, you will make yourself splurge more. Don’t paint that red cross all over; work towards a balanced diet.

A better idea would be to have “about a handful or two of slow-digesting, high-fiber, nutrient-rich carbs like beans, legumes, potatoes or sweet potatoes, whole grains, fruits, etc. at each meal. A banana at breakfast and a cup of chickpeas at lunch might save you a 3 p.m. run to the candy machine,” says Scott-Dixon.

Make sure you are fitting healthy alternatives in your diet

That granola bar was a healthy fix, I can surely have a double-patty cheeseburger now. Yeah, not the right way to go about things. Sometimes we let us treat ourselves with junk and what not after having something good for the body. Be mindful that the job is not done there; the whole purpose of eating something healthy is so something too malicious isn’t sitting in the body. Try not to feel too king after healthy and successful swap-outs.

Artificial sweeteners are not THE answer

“Keeping very sweet tastes in your food routine means that your palate never really adapts to things being less sweet. You’re still always expecting everything to be super-sweet and you’re disappointed when it isn’t,” says Scott-Dixon. She suggests trying out artificial sweeteners and noticing if they really help on holding back the sweet urges.

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PHOTO: Onf.coop

Don’t let your surroundings of tempting food stab your motivation; change the surroundings

Scott-Dixon recommends making that kind of food totally inconvenient. If you have to head out on car or on foot to buy a chocolate bar, you’d be less tempted to do so considering you have to ‘go to them’. Also, with healthy alternatives in reach, the chocolate bar far off is less convenient. One in the hand than two in the bush.

Lastly, allow yourself to feel human and consider getting help if you feel the need

Sugar can feel incredibly compelling and powerful, like a drug, Scott-Dixon says. Consider getting consulting a nutritionist/dietician to help channel your food intake and eating patterns. Don’t be afraid to reach out, it could be life-changing!