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Habit of the Week #4 - Eat Less Sugar

We started with drinking more water, drinking less soda and other sugary drinks, eating more fruit and veggies, and now we're going to focus on learning how to...

Eat less sugar

First step - get out your planner, and write Eat Less Sugar in big letters on this week's page. Tape a sign on your fridge to remind you, and then make a meal plan and shop accordingly.

We're not going to try to eliminate all sugar in one day (although you can if you want to!); rather we are going to start gradually removing as much sugar from our diet as possible. As delicious and addictive as sugar is, it's about as good for you as straight up poison. It's also a very difficult habit to change! However, by approaching it incrementally, you can beat the sugar monster, and take back your good health!

I wish I had known about the ill effects of sugar earlier. You can bet I would have cut way back on it a lot quicker! You can read more about the effects of sugar on the body in The Case Against Sugar.

If you would like to jump ahead and see the whole list of 52 simple changes to work on this year for a new and improved you, click here.

Basically what happens in the body is that when you eat sugar, your body produces insulin to help you process the sugar. Insulin makes you tired, which makes you crave more sugar. Then when you eat more sugar, you get a burst of energy at first, but then you get tired again as soon as the insulin kicks in, and then you crave more sugar. And on it goes... I spent many years on the sugar-insulin merry go round, perpetually tired, especially in the mid-afternoon, when I could barely keep my eyes open!

Obvious sugar sources are soda, candy, cake, cookies, pie, ice cream, donuts, pastries, cereal, muffins, bagels, etc. Less obvious are things like bread, especially white bread. Even if you don't put any honey or jam on it, the white flour turns to sugar in your system very quickly and starts you on the insulin merry go round again. Also, there is added sugar in things like salad dressing, ketchup, barbecue sauce, etc, so there's a lot to watch out for. Start reading labels, and remember that corn syrup and high fructose corn syrup are also forms of sugar.

If you followed the ideas in last week's post about eating more fruits and veggies, then you have already started altering your meals toward healthier choices, like having a veggie scramble or avocado toast on whole grain bread for breakfast instead of a donut and a mocha. Here are some more ideas to help you cut down on your sugar consumption gradually:

- Have a piece of fruit instead. While fruit has sugar, it's natural and unrefined, and it's also mixed with fiber and loads of vitamins and phytochemicals. I love grapes, tangerines, berries, apples, oranges, and so many others! As I started cutting way back on sugar, I found that my taste buds changed, and I started to actually crave fruit more than sugary snacks and desserts! That was a huge turning point for me.

- Try dark chocolate instead of milk chocolate. Dark chocolate is actually good for you, so indulge yourself with it instead! A spoonful of dark chocolate chips mixed with some natural peanut butter is delicious and a much healthier version of peanut butter cups that are loaded with sugar. - Eat more fiber. Fruits, veggies, and whole grains all have stomach-filling fiber in them, which helps slay your appetite. Read labels, and buy things with the highest fiber content. Shirataki noodles, also called "Skinny Noodles" and "Miracle Noodles", are Japanese noodles made from the konjac yam, which has a ton of the amazing fiber glucomannan.

- Make a tasty healthy snack plan (i.e. a piece of fruit like an apple with some cheese, a handful of nuts, sliced veggies and hummus, thinly sliced meat and cheese, etc) so that when you're hungry, you know what your go-to's are.

- Don’t keep sugary snacks in your house. If they're not there, it's a lot harder to eat them!

- Eat something healthy before you go grocery shopping. Shopping after you've eaten will make you less likely to grab every sugary, junky food and throw it in your cart!

- Don't shop during the hours when the "sample ladies" are working so you can't be tempted to sample everything!

- It's easier to add things than to take things away, so keep adding fruits and veggies and water to your diet, and you will find you have less room for junk food.

- Go to Pinterest and look for pictures and recipes of gorgeous, delicious-looking healthy food, and then learn how to make those dishes.

Make this process as positive and fun as possible! In the book Finish by Jon Acuff, he cites research that shows that the best way to change habits and finish tough projects is by attaching fun to them. If it's all drudgery, well, who's going to want to do that?? Find the fun in trying new foods and feeling healthier. Think about all the fun things you can do with the newfound energy that comes from eating clean!

If you make these changes gradually, you will have a much better chance for this becoming a long term success, and you will also find yourself developing more self-discipline. To be truly extraordinary, you need to have self-discipline, a clear head, and a healthy lifestyle. If you can implement all 52 of these habits, by the end of 2018, you will find that you will have not only made huge strides in your physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual health, but you will also have developed enormous self-discipline!

Stay focused on happy healthy eating! Remember - drink more water and less sugary drinks, and eat more fruits and veggies and less sugar! We're working on improving our physical health through dietary changes first in our 52 week adventure, and then we're going to shift our attention to the other areas of life.

If you would like to jump ahead and see the whole list of 52 simple changes to work on this year for a new and improved you, click here.

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