I recently shared how I ditched sugar. I’d like to say it was super easy and it happened in a finger snap. It didn’t.
Although I did go cold turkey and it happened all in one day, it didn’t become a lifestyle until a few years later.
Maybe don’t torture yourself like that.
It was literally a daily choice – sometimes a moment by moment choice – that formed habits of saying no to things.
That paved the way for it to turn into a lifestyle.
Step by step. Moment by moment. Choice by choice.
Here are my tips for getting started.
Tip #1 Don’t get excited by all the sugar-free ‘options’ at the local grocery store.
I had no idea that sugar-free chocolate existed until a few weeks into my journey. When I saw the bag at the store, I bought multiple bags of EVERY kind offered.
When I got home, I indulged and ate every last chocolate that I bought.
Maybe self-discipline was my downfall?
Within a few hours, I was in agonizing pain.
I mean, agonizing.
My belly swelled out and resembled a fairly pregnant state. I could barely stand up straight because of the pain in my gut. Then, I had to try to avoid all types of social measures because the best air fresheners couldn’t even keep up. As if that wasn’t bad enough, it was a struggle to escape the porcelain throne.
I didn’t make the correlation.
Just a few short days later, I was craving chocolate again.
And the process kept on going.
Until a friend told me about sugar alcohols.
Tip #2 Steer clear of sugar alcohols.
Sugar alcohols are sweeteners used in many products labeled ‘sugar-free’ or ‘no sugar added’.
Sugar alcohols sweeten your treats, but tear up your gut – they have this crazy effect called a laxative effect.
See where I’m going with this?
Just. Don’t. Do. It.
Trust me on that one. Your gut will thank you.
Sugar alcohols may appear as
There are so many names for sugar alcohols, so do some research or just stay away from anything that lists ‘sugar alcohols’ in the nutritional information on the package (there is an exception to this, I’ll mention later).
Tip #3 Be prepared with a plan
One of the things that I struggled with at first was the cravings. I’m going to be frank, the cravings have never gone away completely. However, I quickly learned that they had a rhythm and rhyme to them. All I had to do was prepare ahead of time by baking. I have done a ton of experimenting with baking sugar-free. It was quite hard back in 2011 because there were very few options available. My first baking experiment was brownies and they looked, felt and tasted just like a cardboard box. I’m not kidding. Now I feel like I have so many options to use to satisfy my sweet-tooth when it comes every few weeks.
Tip #4 Find a healthy sugar alternative that you like.
The thing with any sugar alternative is that it will never be an exact match to the sugar cane. So, you’ll have to find something that you like and what works for you. For me, for the last 7 years it has been coconut sugar. That being said, just a few weeks ago I tried Swerve (available on Amazon or Superstore) and thought it was the closest to sugar that I’ve ever had – and it comes in granulated and powdered). Technically it’s a sugar alcohol (erythritol), but it’s all natural (like the erythritol that’s found in pears, etc.). I made peanut butter cups with it and my kids devoured them.
There are some other great alternatives. However, I’ve never been a fan of Splenda and although I do use it sometimes, stevia usually lands me with a pretty migraine.
Tip #5 Purge the pantry.
Stop for just one moment. Don’t even think of doing this until you’ve explored Tips 1-4.
You. Will. Regret. It.
Once you have a plan, a sugar alternative that you like and have educated yourself enough on the effects of sugar alcohols, then it’s time to go through your cupboards.
My rule of thumb as I purged my cupboards, fridge, pantry, freezer, dressers, pockets, shelves, etc. (yes, I hid sugar everywhere!) is if it has sugar (by any name) in the first 8 ingredients, I chucked it.
Did you know that ingredients are listed in order of quantity used? Sometimes companies separate the sugars into different names so that sugar doesn’t appear within the first few ingredients.
Tip #6 Give yourself a break.
Don’t be too hard on yourself. It’s extremely difficult to cut sugar cold-turkey. Give yourself time to adjust to it. Take small steps to work toward your goal. It’s doable and you will notice wonderful benefits when you take the plunge. It’s been 7 years for me and I’m still learning and adjusting. It’s a process.
Are you on a journey to cutting down on your sugar intake? What sugar alternatives do you use? Comment below.