It's nearly the new year, and with the new year comes New Year resolutions. What are yours? If one of your New Year resolutions is to cut sugar from your life, we're here to help! And if you haven't considered a sugar-free lifestyle might we suggest it?
Why dump refined sugar? You already know sugar isn't the healthiest item around but you may not be aware of just how much sugar you're eating. Did you know we average 130 pounds of sugar per person in the United States? All those sugar-y drinks and sweets add up, right? So does all the sugar in things like sauces, condiments, crackers, and more – refined sugars that you may not even be noticing.
Sugar has been shown to be a main cause of chronic disease, including heart disease, cancer, type 2 diabetes, depression, dementia, and infertility. One of the reasons sugar is so detrimental to your health is because it contains no essential nutrients - literally none! No healthy fats, no protein, no enzymes, no vitamins, just empty calories that are quickly digested by the body and usually result in a blood sugar spike. But what's a person to do with refined sugar hiding everywhere? Try the tips we've gathered for you below to start to break the sugar-hold and we guarantee you'll be feeling healthier & more energetic in no time!
1. Slow & steady wins the race. It'd be great to just be able to go cold turkey and eliminate all sugar from your diet ASAP, but chances are if you do things that way, in a few days you'll be on a sugar-binge. Why? Because sugar is addictive and like with any other addictive substance, slowly removing it and cutting down on it leads to better results. A good place to start is by starting to use unrefined sweeteners at home, such as pure maple syrup, raw honey or coconut sugar.
2. Check the label. Next place to start is by starting to check the labels of every single item you plan on putting in your mouth. If something has sugar in the ingredients list near the top, stay away from it. (This is because ingredients are always listed in order of how much is contained in the product.) Also remember that sugar isn't always called “sugar”. It hides under lots of sneaky names including: high fructose corn syrup, molasses, dried cane syrup, sucrose and brown rice syrup.
3. Cut out soda, juice & other sweetened drinks. A 12-ounce can of soda contains about 10 teaspoons of sugar. Just by dropping soft drinks alone, you will instantly reduce your sugar habit significantly! And don't automatically reach for “sugar-free” - unless it's stevia sweetened, chances are the sweetener used will be toxic to your health in other ways.
4. Eat a well-rounded diet, particularly proteins & veggies. Simply removing sugar from your diet will improve your health, but filling up on good-for-you foods will make it even better. Plus, eating regular, hearty meals will ensure that you don't eat a donut or cookie while you're out, or reach into a co-worker's candy jar out of hunger. (HINT: The majority of our meals at Top Chef are high in protein & veggies!)
5. Grab a friend. Having an “accountability buddy” (so to speak) will help keep you on track during your sugar-free outing. If you have someone who has the same goal as you, shares healthy recipes and exchanges food/meals, it can make it much more enjoyable and doable. Plus two heads is always better than one!
Going sugar-free is simpler than you may think – it's not easy, just simple – and it's a wonderful way to try to get healthier in the new year (or anytime!). You can find tons of recipes and advice online and if you need more help, we've got you covered with low/sugar-free meals full of protein and veggies! So eat well and enjoy the new year!