Sugar is an addiction. While sugary foods can keep you full until you start eating again, sugary drinks are much sneakier, you may not know how much you’ve fully consumed since you don’t become full. Frequently drinking sugary beverages is associated with weight gain, obesity, type two diabetes, heart disease, kidney disease, non-alcoholic liver disease and the list goes on.
So what are some steps I took to reduce my own consumption?
Set clear goals:
The first goal of any mission is to understand the why. Previous to understanding the detrimental impacts of sugar, I ate a lot of processed foods. They were simple and delicious. However, long-term, this created problems such as elevated blood sugars, weight gain and tooth decay. Being more aware and educated about the health risks associated with sugary drinks can be a better motivator for you to do something different. When I first started reducing my carbohydrate and especially sugary drinks consumption, I found it to be tricky since many foods that supposedly are low in sugar were, in fact, not. For example, Subway sandwich bread contains an exorbitant amount of sugar. Typically, getting a deeper understanding of nutritional labels can help. Check the nutrition labels on beverages to identify hidden sugars. Look for terms like sucrose, high fructose corn syrup, fructose, glucose, and other forms of sugar. Opt for drinks with little to no added sugar.
Quitting cold turkey can be difficult. Start by gradually reducing your intake. For example, if you usually have three sugary drinks a day, reduce it to two, then one, and eventually none. When I first started reducing my consumption of iced tea (all-time favorite drink), I diluted a can of iced tea down with water until eventually the drink became so watered down I could no longer taste the tea. This helped my taste buds adjust over time. Sometimes, if you’re craving a sugary drink, give yourself smaller portion sizes of the drink rather than the largest cup size available.
Out of sight, out of mind:
Rather than leaving sugary drinks out in the open such as the kitchen counter or the pantry, hide them somewhere it would be hard to access. For example, my addiction to instant noodles meant I had to hide my instant noodles all over my home. When these were no longer sitting on my kitchen counter, I didn’t crave them as much.
Replace sugary drinks with healthier options like water, herbal tea, unsweetened iced tea, or sparkling water with a squeeze of lemon or lime. Gradually, your palate will adjust to less sweetness. Another option is to drink beverages with artificial sweetener. Despite these not being the most healthy options either (aspartame has been associated with cancer, for instance), it still makes for a good option to cut down on sugar consumption.