Sugar is in nearly every food we consume nowadays, but if you can start by removing these sources of sugar from your diet, health will be in your future.
If you’ve read any of my previous articles on sugar, or if you’ve been following the news and social media lately, you should have come across at least one article or report on the great dangers that sugar can have on our health. However, even if we come across this information and understand it, it’s a whole other ball game to actually make the lifestyle change of decreasing or eliminating sugar and processed carbohydrates.
Sugar in all of its forms is so well hidden in many of our common foods and is so rampant in our food supply that the thought of avoiding it can seem daunting to many people. Aside from this, many people have become addicted and accustomed to high intakes of sugar, and the idea of having to decrease or exclude it altogether from the diet can seem impossible. Fortunately, there are ways to eat “sweet” foods that are relatively low in sugar.
The first thing to note when changing the diet to decrease sugar and processed carbs is to understand that even slow progress is still progress! Baby steps are a great way to go; thinking that you must do a complete dietary overhaul in one day isn’t realistic and therefore isn’t likely to be maintainable. Instead, focus on small, manageable steps and continue to build and improve! Every change made for the better gets you one step closer to your goal and helps you be that much healthier! Remember that everything you put into your mouth is either helping fight or promote disease, and each improvement you make, no matter how great or small, tips the scale that much heavier on the side of health and optimal wellness!
Typically, it’s best to tackle the area you feel like you’ll be most successful. If eliminating the candy bar or processed energy bar for a snack is a simple and easy change for you, start there. If you tend to eat high amounts of sugar for breakfast, maybe start by reducing the amount of sugar you consume at that time by reducing the portion size or adding less sugar to your food or drink, or by eliminating such things as that daily glass of processed fruit juice.
While there isn’t necessarily a right or a wrong way to decrease or eliminate the amount of sugar and processed carbs from your diet, there are some tips that are likely to help you in your journey. Here are some of the most important sources of sugar to start eliminating from the diet:
Start by eliminating fizzy drinks, soda pop, fruit juice, flavored milks, energy drinks, and even high sugar smoothies. All of these things are liquid sugar, which means it’s not only too high in sugar, but because it’s in liquid form, it’s going to be absorbed very easily into the blood stream and spike blood sugar. This causes problems that can eventually lead to weight gain and type II diabetes. Even if the source of the sugar in a smoothie or juice is coming primarily from fruit, remember it’s still sugar and needs to be taken in at moderate amounts, not by the 16oz glass full!
This is an obvious culprit of dangerously high amounts of added processed sugar. Foods such as candy bars and suckers, for example, are essentially pure sugar, providing absolutely no nutritive value to the body. Sources of sugar that provide no positive benefit should be the primary sources to start eliminating from the diet!
3. Processed Sweets
Processed sweets, baked goods, and confections, including foods such as cookies, cake, bars, and pastries may look appetizing and pretty, but they wreak havoc on our insides! These aren’t the pure sugar of soda and candy, so you may think some of the “healthy” ingredients will balance out the bad, but these treats are loaded with processed sugars and white flour.
4. Processed Breads
But don’t think you’re safe with breads that aren’t sweet! Processed breads such as white rolls, white bread, biscuits, or white tortillas, while not necessarily high in added sugar, are still made with highly processed white flour, which is devoid of fiber and nutrients. Therefore, it is quickly broken down in the body to glucose, a simple sugar, and is quickly absorbed into the bloodstream, spiking the blood sugar levels. White flour products are essentially the same as eating a high sugar food and should therefore be avoided just the same.
5. Most Breakfast Cereals
This is processed, sweet breakfast cereals, including instant oatmeal, which is not only loaded with sugar, but has also had most of its fiber and nutrients removed! These cereals are highly processed, so the grain used is acting essentially as sugar. And as if this wasn’t enough sugar to the system, an abundance of sugar is added to most breakfast cereals to make them taste sweet and appealing! Starting the day off with a food such as this will not only leave your body deprived of nourishment, but give you an energy crash later in the day. In time, this can lead to a number of problems such as poor adrenal or thyroid function, fatigue, weight gain, and diabetes.
6. White Flour and Sugar
Some people like to add yogurt, jam, and so on to common breakfast foods such as pancakes and waffles to make them healthy, forgetting that the base of their meal is made with refined flours. Traditional and common pancakes, waffles, French toast, and other such everyday breakfast foods are usually made with processed white flour and usually have added sugar as well, even if you can’t taste it.
On top of this, added sugar in the form of processed syrup, jam, peanut butter, or other such toppings are routinely added for extra sweetness. This makes for one big plateful of sugar and processed carbs with little to no fiber, healthy fats, or vitamins and minerals! If a truly wholesome pancake, waffle, or French toast meal is made using fresh, whole grain, unprocessed ingredients, and topped with a little raw honey, pure grade B maple syrup, or fruit, then these foods can make for a more healthful meal.
Once the most damaging foods have been decreased or eliminated, begin decreasing your intake of sugar and carbohydrates from all sources except natural whole foods. As you do this, you’ll see your health transform!