Some people say it's the devil. I have been one of those people! Truth is, when you've got sugar cravings or you're trying to reduce it in your nutrition, it can definitely feel like you're fighting a losing battle. But rest assured, it can be done and is well worth it. It's not easy, it's NOT EASY.
It. Is. Not. Easy. Seriously. But it is sooooo worth it.
1. Know your sugar. Sugar goes by many names, and lurks in just about every processed food, even clean products. We have gotten so conditioned to expect sweet foods in our society that sometimes sugar is one of the first few ingredients listed. Since ingredients are listed in order of quantity, this is a huge tip-off. Look at the ingredients and the nutrition label to see what kinds of sugar are in the food and how many grams.
2. Do the mental work. Getting off sugar is mostly mental. You will crave it, but that's just your brain wanting it. You don't need processed sugar. You just want it. Luckily, in the next step, we can change that.
3. Re-train your tastebuds. It doesn't take as long as you think, but give it a few days or maybe a week for your tongue to get used to the taste of food without added sugar. Expect your tongue to turn into an angry toddler at first, kicking and screaming for the sugar it knows and loves. Cut it some slack, it didn't know you were going to do this! But once you break it's will and it realizes who is in charge, it will grow up and begin to like the actual taste of real food. Trust me, this is a hard step but it doesn't take long.
4. Notice the difference between sweet and sugar. Our tastebuds are conditioned for astronomical levels of sweetness. If you eat a traditional baked good after a few weeks of not having processed sugar you'll be shocked at how saturated it is with sweetness. But, plenty of food is naturally sweet without added sugar! Eventually, these naturally sweet foods will become your base and your tastebuds will recognize them as all you need to satisfy your sweet tooth.
The next time you have a sugar craving, stop and ask yourself whether it is sweet or sugar that you really want. Eat a mango, a handful of strawberries, or mix some fresh blueberries into plain greek yogurt. Give your tastebuds a chance to appreciate the difference, they're smarter than you think!
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