How to Cut Down on Sugar

How to Cut Down on Sugar | by The Luxi Look

Remember the 90s when fats were the devil? Well, now it’s sugar’s turn. Except the negative effects of sugar are well documented and research has shown that healthy fats are actually good for us! Unfortunately, all signs point to sugar having ZERO health benefits. There’s no silver lining when it comes to sugar. That’s why doctors, scientists, nutritionists, etc. are telling us to stay away from it – probably more than any other ingredient or food group. Not only is it fattening, horrible for energy, more addictive than drugs, and slowly killing us, it’s also processed like crazy. Bottom line, it provides zero goodness to our bodies and instead does a lot of harm.

But the problem is complicated: 1. It’s really, really good (looking at you, donuts!) 2. It’s proven to be as addictive as hard-core drugs (our brain responds similarly), and 3. It’s in everything. So even if you aren’t buying ice cream, you’re still consuming sugar regularly – at least I am – in things like condiments, salad dressings, etc. that you would never even think it was in! 

With summer travel and a busy schedule overall, I’m trying (key word, trying) to limit sugar, and more specifically, sugar cravings – which go hand-in-hand. To not eat as much sugar, at least consciously, it’s important to get a handle on cravings first.

If you’re in the same boat and either want to eat less of it or be more conscious of sugar, we’re in it together.

Here are my tips on how to cut down on sugar cravings and sugar altogether:

Watch your fruit intake. Fruit is so tricky. Yes, it should be part of a nutritious diet, but it still has plenty of natural sugars in it (different from processed sugars found in candy, cake, etc., but still a sugar). Natural is way better than added, but it should still be monitored. Try to eat your fruit early – that way your body has time to break it down rather than at night when it will likely get stored and turn into fat. “Healthy” breakfasts like acai bowls have a ton of natural sugar, so even though you’re getting nutrients here, save the fruit-heavy meals to once or twice a week – at least when you’re trying to cut back.

Know the hidden names. There are at least 60 names for “sugar” on food labels, so even when you think you’re eating something with zero sugar, check the ingredients. Some examples: sucrose, high-fructose corn syrup, barley malt, dextrose, maltose and rice syrup. Anything that ends in the letters “-ose” is typically a form of sugar! 

Speak with a dietician. When you’re making big life changes, especially ones that could affect your long-term health, you should always consult a health professional. A dietician can walk you through how much sugar someone your age and weight should have and where you should be getting it from, etc. And this is different from your general medicine doctor – you want a certified dietician or nutritionist. They are FULL of knowledge, motivation, and help.

Avoid processed food. Processed foods like spaghetti sauce, cereal and dressings (and a million more) can appear to be healthy but actually contain loads of sugar. Switch gears and start focusing on buying whole, natural foods at the grocery store. Your best bet is to buy foods with limited ingredients. Items with 5 or less ingredients rarely are processed enough to contain sugar (except fruit). And if you can’t pronounce something – chances are you probably don’t want to be eating it! I also rely on making my own salad dressing. A little lemon, olive oil, red wine vinegar, local honey, and salt & pepper go a long way.

Find an alternative. If you love baking or can’t imagine life without cookies, find an alternative to sugar. There are tons of non-refined and natural options like coconut palm sugar and stevia, although I try to steer clear of these as much as possible as well. Sugar is sugar, you know?

Eat one less thing. Going cold turkey is hard, so I try for one less sugary thing a day. This actually helps for any elimination-type diet and is proven to be much easier to handle. One less cookie, one less sugary condiment, one less sugary drink. In my experience, when you say I can’t have something I just want it more. And TBH, a life without dessert isn’t really one I want to be living! I’m taking baby steps, ok?

Change your drinks. Speaking of sugary drinks, unfortunately, a lot of the best kinds of drinks are loaded with sugar. It might make them taste good (and look pretty), but they’re leading to sugar spikes, calories, and hangovers (I’m looking at you, alcohol). Cut out wine, champagne, tonic waters and sodas, and generally anything darker (like rum). Clear alcohol tends to have the least amount of sugar, so try vodka or tequila (< my drink of choice!) on the rocks with lots of lemon, lime and cucumber.

I’m not saying you have to cut out sugar entirely – I’m not a total monster! And let’s be real, I’m still going to indulge when I can because life is about #balance. Sadly, my sweet tooth is probably here to stay (and if you don’t have one, lucky you!) – but that doesn’t mean I won’t make a more concerted effort to check my labels, say no to dessert more often, and limit the booze (sad).

How are you staying healthy this summer?

18 Discussion to this post

  1. Keri says:

    Such good tips!! I am trying to eat a lot healthier right now, so this was very useful 🙂

    Enclothed Cognition

  2. Lauren says:

    I’m glad you wrote this Amy! I’ve always been a salty over sweet kind of gal, however this summer I felt like I’ve been surrounded by pastries and wedding food and take out all season long…which has me intentionally making my own vegetable soups and salad dressings a few times a week (no sugar, organic, and easy to blend in one vessel.) If I can swap one meal for homemade food each day, it’s a good start 😀

    xx
    Lauren
    http://www.shoesandsashimi.com

  3. Ugh this is seriously is my biggest vice! I cannot give up sugar for the life for me. I’ve tried so many times and I know it is soo bad for me but I can’t seem to make it a lifestyle change. But this post came at a good time while I am trying to workout and stay on top of my healthy eating habits so I will try and use your tips to reduce the sugar intake in my life slowly but surely. Thanks Amy! xoxo, Christine
    http://dailykongfidence.com/

  4. Katherine says:

    I’m glad I don’t have a sweet tooth, but the alcohol is what gets me! I don’t even realize how much I’m drinking sometimes and it’s so bad haha. I’m glad that my drink of choice though is usually the clear ones.

    http://www.myclusterofthoughts.com/

  5. Briana says:

    Wow I did not know sugar was that horrible for you! Thanks for this!

    Briana
    https://beyoutifulbrunette.com/

  6. Elizabeth says:

    Thank you so much for this informative post! 🙂 I’ve been actively trying to cut back on sugar, but it’s definitely hard to cut it out completely! Loving all of these tips in trying to live a healthier life! <3

    XO, Elizabeth
    http://clothestoyouuu.com/

  7. Such a great and useful post! Avoiding processed foods is really important, thanks for mentioning it! I am currently trying to cut eating fruit late at night as a snack and have replaced the sugar in my coffee for coconut sugar. Have you tried it?
    xoxo
    Stella
    http://www.stellaasteria.com

    • Amy Zhang says:

      My boyfriend uses coconut sugar! I try not to use sugar in my coffee, but I am guilty of adding cream or milk! Will try baking w/ coconut sugar this weekend, thanks for the rec babe! xo

  8. Jessie says:

    Look this post! I’ve been trying to reduce my body fat percentage and it has been a tough journey. I love food too much. It’s hard to cut down on sugar. This post has been very helpful and there are certain areas I can definitely work on.

    xx, Jessie
    http://4evajessie.com/reviv-hk/

  9. natalie says:

    LOVE LOVE

    NATALIEOFFDUTY.COM

    NatalieOffDuty

  10. Jessi Malay says:

    Such a good informative post babe!! Sugar is the hardest thing to cut back on..I love my sweets too much haha. But I definitely think it’s important to do little things like cut back on sugary drinks that are unnecessary and watch the hidden names on food labels..really helpful!!

    XO, Jessi
    http://www.mywhitet.com/custom-closet-makeover-inspo/

  11. Rina says:

    I swear, everytime I come to your blog it’s like you’ve read my mind. I’ve been wanting to limit my sugar intake because i’ll be going to Hawaii shortly and have been struggling to do! I used to drink a frappe every weekday morning from Starbucks but stopped cold turkey in February. My problem is I have to stop buying sugary things and having them in the house. If I don’t buy them, I wont eat them. I have also been making my own salad dressing lately <3

    xoxo
    Rina Samantha
    http://www.andshedressed.com

  12. I used to say proudly I didn’t have a sweet tooth because my mum raised it that way (she is not into sweets at all), but since I live in the UK I must admit access to sugary products is easier than ever, so I have to refrain myself form eating the extra cookie >.< I sometimes go weeks without much sugar intake, but I guess I could do better. Thanks for these tips on how to do it and what to watch out for, lovely Amy!
    Happy almost weekend

    Saida | She talks Glam

  13. Jenn Wang says:

    Such a great post! Have you watched the documentary, Fed Up on Netflix? It’s about the obesity problem in the US and a big focus of the documentary is sugar. They actually mention the history of diet/food fads and how the 90’s totally focused on reducing fat to lose weight, so to make foods more palatable food companies added sugar instead! It’s an interesting watch, but warning: it’s quite bias. Thanks for all the tips to avoid sugar! It’s even harder in the summer and I’m definitely going to remember your post next time I grab for a tub of ice cream. 🙂

    Jenn
    http://www.honeydewblog.com

    • Amy Zhang says:

      I did watch that! Agree that it’s a little biased but worth watching nonetheless. It’s SO hard to give up sugar – definitely cannot quit it cold turkey! But reading and learning more about how bad it is for you is enough to make me want to take baby steps to reduce my intake. Have a wonderful weekend, Jenn! xo

  14. Being born in Europe, I didn’t even know about salad dressing very well until I moved to the United States. In my family we always just used oil, vinegar/lemon, salt and pepper in our salads and I naturally followed that tradition on my own. I must admit that after moving I was tempted to use dressings to test them out, but I quickly got back to my “boring” way of making my own simple dressing and I never get salads when I’m out because it’s so hard to find a good salad. Unless it’s an European place, so then the chances are that I will actually get oil and vinegar instead of a packet of dressing. Isn’t it so mind blowing how everything has so much sugar in it?

    xoxo
    Kay
    http://www.styleunsettled.com

  15. This is such a great post! I don’t have a sweet tooth and I don’t take my tea with any sugar but I know there are many other things I eat that I need to watch the sugar intake. I also need to avoid processed foods period. Thanks for sharing such an informative post! x

    Ann-Marie | http://facetocurls.com/

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