Carbohydrates provide essential fuel for your daily activities, but they can also be dangerous on your health and your waistline when eaten in excess. Added sugars especially can be a major stumbling block if you're trying to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Cutting sugar out of your diet can have incredible health and wellness benefits, but doing so may be harder than it sounds at first. If you've made the commitment to cut sugar out of your diet, it's important to plan for how you'll battle cravings and withdrawals before you throw away all your cookies or pour your soda down the drain. Focus on small strategies to help cut back on cravings first, then craft a plan to beat the temptations of withdrawal. Preparation and mental dedication are all that's needed to cut excess sugar out of your diet.
Small Steps to Cut Down on Cravings
Many people struggle to cut down on sugar consumption not just because they love sweets but because sugar triggers powerful chemical responses in the brain that lead to feelings of pleasure and reward. It's these chemical reactions that are likely responsibly for the majority of sugar cravings. It will take time to break old habits such as indulging in a doughnut every morning or putting sugar in your coffee. Try these simple strategies to beat cravings:
- Opt for a piece of fruit when you just can't resist sugar cravings.
- Allow yourself a small indulgence on a weekly basis to avoid the temptation to binge.
- Try keeping sugary snacks out of view where they're harder to reach.
- Try eating a protein, such as a piece of cheese or salami, when a sugar craving hits.
- Drink plenty of water.
Working to cut sugar out of your diet shouldn't be a struggle that you face alone. Be sure to share with your friends and loved ones that you are trying to cut back. While no one wants to be the Debbie Downer who always turns down desserts, it's important to have the support of your loved ones as you make major dietary changes.
Powerful Practices to Beat Withdrawal
Once you've brought your sugar cravings under control, you can work to eliminate sugar from all the areas of your kitchen in which it is lurking. From store-bought bread to salad dressing, refined sugar and high-fructose corn syrup find their way into many foods available on the American market. Because your body is likely so accustomed to sugar, beating sugar withdrawals can seem impossible at times. No matter how hard withdrawal hits, continue to visualize how great you'll look and feel once you've eliminated sugar. Serious sugar withdrawals can be more difficult to deal with than cravings because they have physical symptoms. For example, you might have a slight headache or feel run down when you first eliminate sugar from your diet. These are all completely normal signs that your body is adjusting back to a more natural, less processed diet. To beat withdrawal symptoms, try:
- Taking a quick nap
- Getting plenty of exercise
- Stepping outside for fresh air
- Practicing deep breathing
- Drinking water
It's a good idea to jot down your successes and struggles in a small food journal every day. Be sure to mark strategies that helped you beat cravings or get over withdrawal symptoms. Tracking your own progress is a great way to keep yourself motivated when cutting sugar out of your diet gets tough, so be sure to set personal goals and reward yourself when you achieve them.
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