According to the American Heart Association, the average American consumes approximately 77 grams of added sugars per day, which is more than three times the recommended amount for men and nearly double the recommended amount for women. Cutting out added sugars from your diet can have some impressive health benefits. Here’s what you can expect when you make the switch:
- Weight loss: “Added sugars are empty calories that can contribute to weight gain,” says registered dietitian Ginger Hultin. When you cut them out, you may notice that the number on the scale starts to go down.
- Improved digestion: Sugar can be tough on your digestive system, and eliminating it can lead to more regular bowel movements and a reduction in bloating, according to Hultin.
- Better skin: Sugar can increase inflammation in the body, which can lead to acne and other skin issues, says dermatologist Dr. Debra Jaliman. Cutting it out may lead to a clearer, healthier complexion.
- Increased energy: Added sugars can give you a temporary energy boost, but it’s often followed by a crash, according to Hultin. Quitting sugar can lead to more sustained energy levels throughout the day.
- Improved mental clarity: Sugar can interfere with your brain’s ability to function properly, leading to brain fog and difficulty concentrating, says Hultin. Ditching it can lead to improved mental clarity and focus.
Of course, quitting sugar isn’t always easy. You may experience withdrawal symptoms like cravings, irritability, and fatigue in the first week or so. But stick with it, because the benefits are well worth it!
How to overcome sugar cravings
Identify the cause of your cravings: Are you craving sugar because you’re bored, stressed, or tired? Understanding the root cause of your cravings can help you find healthy ways to address them.
- Keep healthy, low-sugar snacks on hand: Having healthy snacks like nuts, seeds, or veggies with hummus readily available can help curb cravings when they strike.
- Drink plenty of water: Sometimes, cravings can be a sign of dehydration. Try drinking a glass of water and waiting a few minutes to see if the craving passes.
- Get enough sleep: Lack of sleep can increase cravings for sugary, high-fat foods. Make sure you’re getting enough rest to help keep cravings at bay.
- Practice mindfulness: When a craving hits, take a few deep breaths and try to focus on the present moment. Ask yourself if you’re truly hungry, or if the craving is driven by something else.
- Find a healthy substitute: If you’re craving something sweet, try a piece of fruit or a small serving of a naturally sweet treat like a date stuffed with almond butter.
- Stay active: Regular physical activity can help reduce cravings by balancing blood sugar levels and releasing feel-good endorphins.
Remember, it’s normal to have cravings, and it’s okay to indulge every once in a while. The key is to find healthy ways to manage them so that they don’t derail your goals.