How to Quit Sugar, Based on Your Personality
A high-sugar diet has been linked to heart disease and obesity. So when it comes to cutting back or giving it up, stack the odds in your favor with a plan uniquely targeted to you.
Letting external factors drive your eating choices happens to many of us. Do you ever find yourself craving the same thing over and over even if you are not hungry? Once you pause to examine why you want the sweet treat, you can realize that giving into a craving was more of a reflex in response to stress. Recognizing that is key in helping you break the stress-sugar connection. When you get the urge to dig into a sleeve of cookies, your first step should be to stop. Then, ask yourself why do I want this?: Is sadness, boredom or procrastination prompting you to dig in? Get curious about your sugar cravings and try to understand where they’re coming from and what it’s trying to solve. Awareness that the urge does not come from hunger can help you plan better ways to deal with the craving. Have a few coping strategies at the ready, like log into our private group and vent or have a journal easily accessible to express yourself.
You’re a planner
Giving up sugar can be a tall order, as it can masquerade under more than 60 names, from the obvious (caramel, brown sugar) to the sneaky (dextran, sorghum). Figuring out what you can and cannot eat is tough, especially if you’re on the go. That’s where tapping into your planner nature comes in. As a planner you should consider carrying around snacks that you can dig into as soon as hunger hits. If your the type of person where once I get hungry, all willpower goes out the window, planning can be your secret to success. Bring no-sugar snacks with you, like fruit-nut bars, Beachbars, clementines or bananas, pre-peeled hardboiled eggs or a cheese stick.
You tend to give up when times get tough
Quitting sugar doesn’t actually mean you have to ditch it forever—especially if you have a sweet tooth. There is a time and place for it. I recommend having an ‘intentional indulgence’. Once a week, plan to have something you truly love (a small cupcake, a scoop of ice cream) guilt-free. These planned splurges can actually help you eat less sugar overall. When you feel guilty, you often think you “ruined the day” and give up your healthy eating plan all together, which can mean digging into cookies or candy. (And then promising yourself that you’ll start over again next week.) Restricting your mindset to “no sugar ever” can actually boost your craving for these self-proclaimed off-limits foods and can also make you feel guilty which may actually prevent you from losing weight.
You have an all-or-nothing attitude
If you eat a few M&Ms, do you want the whole bag? If you keep ice cream bars in your freezer, are they too hard to resist? If it’s easier to keep treats out of your house than in, you may be an all-or-nothing person when it comes to sugar. So while it’s smart to clear your kitchen of the stuff, you may have to take it a step further. In the initial period, you may also have to give up fruit as well or choose fruit that has more benefits, like fiber, to help you slow your intake down. Strawberries, Blueberries, Raspberries and Blackberries are great choices. The sweetness in fruit can trigger a binge in some people. Until the sugar addiction is under control and intense sugar cravings have subsided, you have to be stricter with any foods that contain added or natural sugar. It’s also important to get family members on board with the challenge, since having treats around for them can set you up for failure. Remember, the restrictions are not forever, it’s only until you get past the “all or nothing” attitude with the sweet stuff.
You’re more of a savory person
Not only does sugar hide in unexpected places (salad dressings, sauces, frozen dinners), but it’s also in a concentrated amount in some carb-heavy fare, like bagels and pizza. That means you can be a sugar fanatic and not even know it. French fries and pizza are still sugar cravings, but in savory forms. Why? They’re broken down and absorbed quickly, causing a blood sugar spike and crash. Anything that causes those highs and lows is feeding your addiction. Get these simple forms of carbs out of your diet. For success, you have to practice simple awareness. Know that refined carbs (pasta, crackers, white bread), as well as French fries are actually sugar; if you’re craving high carb foods (waffles, pancakes) for breakfast, that’s another sign that you might have a sugar habit. Recognizing it and then limiting these foods is the only way to break your addiction.
So What is a Day’s Worth of Sugar Looks Like
Even if you don’t drink soda or snack on candy, and you’d never make a meal out of an energy bar, it’s easy reach the daily sugar limit recommended by experts. According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, no more than 10 percent of your total daily calories should come from added sugar.
If you’re eating 2,000 calories per day (Plan C for 80 Day Obsession), that means your sugar intake is capped at roughly 50 grams. But if you really want to cut back, the American Heart Association says that 25 -30 grams is the max you should be eating. (Cue the collective yikes). How do you do that? If you eat 3 meals a day and 2 snacks, aim for about 6 grams of sugar per meal and you should keep the sugar monster in the closet.