It’s a new year and, of course, we all want to set ourselves up for success. Whether you’re focused on weight management or simply wanting to feel better across the board, cutting down on sugar is a great idea. Here are ten easy pointers on how to get on the healthy train.
1. Revamp your breakfast foods
Look at the labels on your favorite breakfast bar or cereal. Odds are, there’s a ton of added sugar in there. Cut out boxed cereals and bars, and opt for whole grains and alternative breakfast foods. Try brown rice, barley, millet or a bowl of quinoa topped with avocado slices. Look up recipes by Michael Pollan; he got me eating beans and rice for breakfast! Sustainable energy comes from whole, unprocessed foods—not toaster pastries.
2. Do a sugar detox
Try a 5-7 day sugar detox where you don’t consume any sugar that isn’t delivered via fresh fruit, whole grains and unprocessed vegetables. Your body will feel as though you’ve pressed the “reset” button, and you’ll crave less sugar after a few days without it.
3. Eat a lot of leafy greens
Research has proven that upping your dark, leafy green intake loads you up with antioxidants and energy that doesn’t leave you with a nasty sugar crash a few hours later. Keep packages of spinach, arugula, kale and romaine on hand, and eat them as you would chips or popcorn. No dressing—just handfuls of leafy green magic.
4. Get more rest
Numerous studies have found that sleeping less than 7-9 hours each night increases your risk of overeating. And, as we all know, when we emo-eat, it’s not fistfuls of kale that we go for. Let’s be real, here. Set yourself up for restful, plentiful sleep, and avoid sugar binges and cravings.
5. Quit packaged foods
Eat whole, unprocessed foods and quit fast food completely. Don’t let them trick you with their “light fare” menu options. Additives, sweeteners and gross toxic food dyes cannot be good for you.
Drink green tea, green juice and water with lemon, green. Treat soda pop like a dessert or treat. I have soda maybe once or twice quarterly. It’s not good for you, so quit it—cold turkey. This applies to “diet” soda too, by the way. Fake sugar is nasty, and God knows what it’s doing to our bodies.
7. Drink green juices and smoothies
I once worked for someone who teased me for drinking what they referred to as “alligator pee.” I fell in love with green juice way before it was hip, trendy, expensive Instagram fodder. Try making green juice in a blender; it’s easier to clean up, and the pulp from fruits and veggies provides extra fiber. Check out my article on green juices here: http://www.lovelivehealth.com/easy-green-juicing-for-optimal-health/
8. Cook with spices
Keep your palette stimulated by cooking with many different spices on a regular basis. Try your hand at new recipes and see where it goes. I started throwing an annual Chinese New Year Party a few years back, and began making scallion pancakes, dumplings and noodles from scratch. Variety is indeed the spice of life!
9. Don’t skip meals
As a matter of fact, grazing throughout the day on snacks such as leafy greens, unsweetened nuts, or a few slices of cheese helps stave off sugar cravings. Keep lots of clean, whole foods on hand, and avoid that vending machine temptation at 3pm each day.
10. Try new, healthier snacks
Whip up easy, small batches of raw macaroons. Try your hand at all-natural DIY snack foods that are made without sugar. Granola, nut blends, and many raw desserts can be made without any added sweeteners. In time, your taste buds acclimate to foods that contain less added sugar, so be patient.
Don’t wait for health issues to arise before you cut down on your sugar intake. Prevention is where it’s at, so get on board and give these ideas a go.