Healthy Habit: My Plan To Cut Back on Sugar

by Lauren on November 13, 2012

It seems like everyone is talking about sugar these days.  Perhaps with the verge of all the holiday merriment, our taste buds are raging for something sweet.

I’m not sure about you, but my sweet tooth has been in full swing lately.  It could be stress related, it could be hormonal or it simply could just be the fact that I like a good piece of chocolate after my meals, but either way, I’ve been enjoying sweeter treats than I’m proud to admit.

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And because the holidays are right around the corner, I’m a little more cautious of the fact, knowing I’ll be having my fair share of desserts in the coming weeks.

Apparently though, I’m not alone.  A recent study showed that the average American consumes 22 added teaspoons of processed sugar a day.  At first I thought, no way, but after really thinking about it, it’s not as hard to achieve that goal as it sounds.

While I don’t intend to cut out sugar entirely from my diet, I do plan on taking a cognitive approach to cut back in feasible areas where I know I don’t need the added sugar rush.  I don’t really like to jump into challenges because I always feel like that assumes there will be an end, and if I’m going to make a healthy effort to change something, I want it to be lasting.  So let’s not call this a challenge, let’s call this a change.

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Here is the plan…

Drink More Water

I drink a lot of water but I never feel like it’s enough.  By lunchtime, I will aim to have four glasses of water in.  I always start my day with a glass of lemon water (with a shot of apple cider vinegar), and I am now going to up that one glass to two.  Right off the bat, I’ll have two glasses down even before breakfast. Here is a trick. I pour my water first thing, take my vitamins, and continue to sip while preparing my breakfast.  I challenge myself to finish my glass of water before I start eating.  It’s been working out quite well.

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 Switch to Black Coffee

I actually really like my coffee black and definitely don’t ever feel like I need added sugar or creamer.  I do add a little splash of coconut milk creamer in my coffee each morning, but I really don’t need it.  I would much rather save the splurge on my Starbucks stop, when I add a touch of steamed soy to my decaf Americano.

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Start with Breakfast

Breakfast is my favorite meal of the day but it also happens to be the one where I consume the most sugar.  I hardly ever opt for eggs for breakfast and would much rather dive into a bowl of yogurt with fruit and granola.  I eat a lot of fruit in the morning and while I’m not saying fruit is not a healthy option, I know I can be cutting back on other sugar sources in the morning, such as the yogurt, granola and cereals.  Instead of having a ¼ cup of granola, I plan to cut back to a few tablespoons and add a handful of nuts to up the protein.  Instead of vanilla Greek yogurt, I can definitely switch to plain and if needed, add a drop or two of steiva.

Do the math

Look at the label where it says “total sugars” and divide the number of grams by four. That’s the number of teaspoons of sugar you are ingesting. This exercise alone should scare me a little.

Choose my Vice

While I fully believe in eating what you love, I also believe in moderation, like most.  So this means choosing one area that I’m not willing to give up, and eliminating in another area.  For example, I love having something a little sweet to end my night.  Usually some cottage cheese with stevia and cinnamon, yogurt, or a small cup of cereal.  I’m not willing to give this up because I know it will just make me irritable and bitter.  But I know I can give up the daily Starbucks trip or the few pieces of chocolate after lunch.  If I want to keep one bad habit, than I will, but I’m also willing to give up another in exchange.

Obviously, trying to cut sugar out of my diet entirely is just not realistic nor would I ever attempt to do something so drastic.  I’m simply going to be more aware in an effort to feel my best.

 Question:

Do you have a sweet tooth?  What is one tip you can share to help curb a sugar craving?

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{ 52 comments }

Erica { EricaDHouse.com } November 13, 2012 at 8:57 pm

This post is so perfectly timed. I normally don’t have a sweet tooth but the last few weeks I’ve been eating vitatops, arctic zero and plain chocolate WAY more than usual (it has to be stress related). I started cutting back last week and I feel a bit better already. I will definitely be using your ‘divide by 4′ calculator to make sure what I’m about to eat is really ‘worth it’ in terms of the extra sugar!

Carla November 13, 2012 at 9:09 pm

I think you are crazy Lauren. You are doing this to lose weight. Only 90 pound girls with eating disorders, think like this. You need to gain weight. I really hope you do and become healthy. I am only saying this because you are too thin.

Anonymous November 14, 2012 at 6:51 am

Oh my word Carla! You called this 10 days ago! See your post from the Friday Confessions post on November 2nd.

I totally agree with you!

Anonymous November 14, 2012 at 6:52 am

Actually, here it is below. I think the Friendship Center needs to know she’s a fraud. (Lets see if this post gets deleted like the others do):

Carla November 4, 2012 at 11:38 am

Why are you freaking out over 2 pieces of candy? I think you are too hard on yourself Lauren. I can imagine you writing about how you are consuming too much sweets now and writing a post on how you are cutting sugar, which you already have. Lauren, you are extremely skinny and the blog world sees your disordered eating. I think you need some help. As much as you write that you are at a good place, you aren’t. It might seem like it in your head, but have you ever eaten a bagel at night? I can imagine the thoughts going through your head about the carbs and processed sugar. I can NEVER see you eat that, let alone a whole bagel with cream cheese and that is without removing cream cheese. What would you do if you were in a real foreign country instead of an all inclusive resort?
It is really sad. I think people who write blogs have a disordered image about view like the Marie Clare post wrote a few years ago. You are no exception to this.

Ashley @ My Food N Fitness Diaries November 13, 2012 at 9:09 pm

I’ve always had quite the sweet tooth as well, and I’m sure a part of that will never go away. But I have noticed that I can tame my sweet tooth MUCH better when I’m ingesting a good amount of healthy fats throughout the day.

chelsey @ clean eating chelsey November 13, 2012 at 9:15 pm

I totally have a sweet tooth, and like you mine has been a bit out of control lately!

Jan November 13, 2012 at 11:07 pm

I have a HORRID sweet tooth. I have some food allergies so I already feel like I limit what I eat so much, and justify it that way. But, it’s so bad for me. I should really think about cutting back.

Angela @ Beauty in Strength November 13, 2012 at 11:15 pm

I have a sweet tooth too, and although it’s hard at first to cut back (your body starts craving in) those cravings go away within a week or two and the change you feel is incredible.

Steph @ The Event Crashers November 14, 2012 at 1:42 am

I think it’s in this Susquehanna Valley water, because I too have been indulging in many more sweets lately than I usually do. :/

Lauren November 14, 2012 at 9:16 am

It doesn’t help that Chocolate Covered February is coming up in Hershey! Those huge billboards of chocolate are tempting! :)

Erica @ For the Sake of Cake November 14, 2012 at 6:36 am

Oh man, I am a total sugar addict! I like your “do the math” suggestion; I think that would help me A LOT!

kim@hungryhealthygirl November 14, 2012 at 6:51 am

I definitely have a sweet tooth! I like your “do the math” activity….even though it might be a little scary, it’s important to know exactly what you’re putting in your body. My have to have sweet is stevia in my coffee, however I have cut down a lot and I used to use creamer and now I only use unsweetened almond milk.

Anne November 14, 2012 at 7:49 am

I definately think I am addicted to sugar (seriously!)
For me I find that it’s important to cut back on my artificial sweetners, which are hyper-sweet, as opposed to natural sugars such as fruit.

Lauren November 14, 2012 at 9:15 am

I couldn’t agree more. I didn’t realize how many artificial sugars are in some of the things I already eat and considered to be healthy.

Lauren November 14, 2012 at 8:13 pm

Do you know if kashi still has gmo’s? I avoided it for a while but I reallllllly love go lean crunch!

Lizzie November 14, 2012 at 8:10 am

I think there are a lot of people who assume sugar = weight gain. I mean, I guess what I am saying is I used to always put together junk food = weight gain and healthy food= lower calories and no weight gain. Then I start to wonder if its the calories that I am worried about, or the quality/health benefits from the food…

Are you trying to cut back on sugar just to help your body with staying healthy, or do you think you are trying to cut back because it will stop weight gain?

I am confused myself haha

Lauren November 14, 2012 at 9:14 am

Lizzie- I have never claimed that I am doing anything for weight loss. That is not my goal and while I know it is the goal of others, it’s not what I focus on in terms of my health. I am always aiming to stay as healthy as I can be. I think too many people assume that thin people have some sort of disordered eating if they aren’t eating junk which I think it completely ridiculous. I eat well, yes, but I also eat what I want and what I know will fuel my body properly. Yes, that includes sugar and while I don’t intend to eliminate sugar completely from my diet (which I indicated strongly in the post) I haven’t been feeling as energetic and haven’t been sleeping as well and I believe it is because of my more than usual consumption of sugar lately. I’m sorry if my words lead you to believe otherwise. Again, not my intention. :)

jensquared November 14, 2012 at 9:22 am

Your relationship with food and the posts you write is what makes people think you have disordered eating. Your emaciated appearance and that fact that you look like a bobble-head figure because your body is so small in comparison to your head is what makes people think that. Not because you’re “thin”. You’re beyond thin.

Anonymous November 14, 2012 at 12:00 pm

Woah! Well that was rude..

Danielle @ clean food creative fitness November 14, 2012 at 8:14 am

Love these tips! I’ve definitely had to ween myself off the sugar and think I need to start again as more has been sneaking into my diet lately! It definitely is addictive! The more I have it the more I want it. Good luck with cutting back!

Katie November 14, 2012 at 8:23 am

I have a major sweet tooth and crave- and eat- a “real” dessert every night. I’ve noticed, though, that when I do cut back, I don’t crave it as much. Cutting back is the hard part, though!

Marcia November 14, 2012 at 8:38 am

I have a horrible sweet tooth. Once I start it’s hard to stop. For me its all about habits. Lately I’ve been savoring a square of dark chocolate and trying to leave it at that. Easier said than done sometimes.

Katie @ Livehalffull November 14, 2012 at 9:22 am

I have been the habit of eating dessert almost every night! This week I started the 100 Days of Real Food 10 Day Pledge which includes no sugar. Basically, for me, so far thinking about what goes into my mouth is helping me a avoid sugar. Cutting it out of my coffee was something that has helped to that I did a few months ago. I used to put a TON! Now I don’t miss it!

Melissa @TryingtoHeal November 14, 2012 at 11:03 am

I’ve been cutting out as much sugar as I can in the past month because I’ve noticed how much it upsets my stomach and energy. The more sugar I eat, the less energy I have and harder I crash! I’ve noticed that instead of sugary foods to pick me up, I’ve started drinking lots of organic green tea and it helps so much, esp with my belly staying happy!

Erika November 14, 2012 at 11:44 am

I am 3 days into less before bedtime snacks/sugar treats and feeling better. Whether people are trying to lose weight or not I think everyone can benefit from reducing their sugar intake.

Courtney @ Sweet Tooth, Sweet Life November 14, 2012 at 1:48 pm

Me, with a sweet tooth? Ummm… ;)

Pavement Runner November 14, 2012 at 2:10 pm

Some great tips… photos are cool too. That tea spoon of sugar and the red lips makes me think VAMPIRE. Am I the only one?

Lauren November 14, 2012 at 7:46 pm

Haha, I was thinking the same thing. Love that photo though for some reason. :)

Jill November 14, 2012 at 2:40 pm

So, you call a touch of soy or a splash of coconut creamer a “splurge” and you call a small bowl of cottage cheese with FAKE sugar at night a “vice”? Girl, listen to yourself. I feel bad for you but even worse for your readers who look to you as an inspiration for health. I know you’ve been getting some nasty comments lately, which really aren’t necessary. With that said, it’s bothersome that you are so clearly not being honest with yourself AND posting a blog which can potentially influence other young girls simultaneously. It’s a recipe for disaster. Please, get help.

Jen November 14, 2012 at 8:21 pm

I agree as well. It’s a major concern. She should not be considered a health advocate. Or a wellness coach.

Anonymous November 14, 2012 at 2:43 pm

Agree with the previous commentors..you obviously need help and should not be advocating on any groups involving healthy living.

Laura November 14, 2012 at 3:48 pm

Wow girl I applaud your discipline in thinking your “splurge” is a splash of creamer or cottage cheese. Cottage cheese is practically a health food! I don’t think you will have to work too hard at this lifestyle change since your diet is pretty clean anyway! I’m trying to eliminate fake sugars like Splenda and sucralose and instead incorporating real sugars like sugar in the raw or honey. Best of luck to you, but honestly I don’t think you need to do this in the slightest but do whatever makes you happy!

Lauren November 14, 2012 at 7:45 pm

Oh no no, that is not my splurge. Cottage cheese is the healthy part. I guess I should have mentioned I add a few handfuls of granola to that cottage cheese most nights. I want to replace it with nuts because the added sugar from the granola at night is keeping me up and making me feel like crap going to sleep. I do try to eat clean (mainly because I have to with my condition) but I definitely am not perfect.

GiGi Eats Celebrities November 14, 2012 at 3:51 pm

I use stevia whenever I need to sweeten something up, like black coffee, it works wonders!! I have been using this sweetener instead of sugar for 10 years now with no adverse affects, so I am promoting it without a blink ;)

Andrea November 14, 2012 at 6:12 pm

I can’t believe people are calling you unhealthy for wanting to cut down on sugar!!! This makes absoloutley no sense to me and I applaud you efforts! I too am naturally very thin and I eat very healthy meals that consist mainly of protein, veggies, complex carbs and fruit because I don’t see the NEED to consume sugar. It affects my stomach, mysleep, my engergy, my skin, my memory, etc. The first time I tried cutting out sugar for a month I honestly felt like a fog had lifted. I felt better in every way possible and honestly, I didn’t regret it. I now chose to “treat” myself or “splurge” in other ways, not with food. I’m not a dog!!! I didn’t do it to lose weight either, I did it because sugar has NO nutritional value or health benefit. I do still eat the occasional cookie or piece of birthday cake but whenever I do I experience immediate stomach upset. When my mom was diagnosed with cancer the doctor told her to stop eating sugar (and dairy) immediately. I personally do not feel that “healthy living” includes consuming sugar on a daily basis or having to prove to other people that you eat cake or chocolate or halloween candy whenever you feel like it. Honestly, what do you have to lose by cutting down on sugar? I truly don’t understand these reactions. People say that because you don’t want to eat sugar and consider coffee creamer a splurge you’re unhealthy. But why do we consider doing these things “healthy??” What exactly are the health benefits? I think that attitude is more about making other people feel OK about their life choices than anything else.

Lauren November 14, 2012 at 7:43 pm

Thanks Andrea! Really, thank you so much. And by the way, I LOVE your blog!! You have some real talent girl. :)

Andrea November 14, 2012 at 10:10 pm

LOL! Wrong Andrea, I don’t have a blog but I love yours :)

Betsy November 14, 2012 at 7:06 pm

Gosh, what a great post, Lauren. There is far too much sugar in the American diet and it is wrecking havoc on our nation’s health (type II diabetes, anyone?) I believe that our consumption of fake sugars is just as bad! Studies show that drinking diet soda is actually just as harmful as sugar sweetened soda (leading people to crave more). I myself still each plenty of sugar, but it is in the form of fresh and dried fruits (dates, raisins, prunes, dried apricots etc), which leave me feeling energized and satisfied. Honey drizzled over tea or on yohgurt is a lovely addition as well. And if something says “sugar free”, I never touch it. Aspartame and its close relatives are the worst.

Sara @ sarasmiles November 14, 2012 at 7:15 pm

I’ve been thinking about this topic a lot actually. I hope America is starting to realize that it’s not fat, calories or carbs that are the enemy, it’s added sugars. I would like to think I don’t really eat processed foods, but it’s a little scary to think how much added sugars are hidden inside “healthy” foods. It’s something to be conscious of for sure!

Hannah November 14, 2012 at 10:45 pm

You are a shame. You shouldn’t be an advocate of healthy eating, but disordered eating. You are a horrible role model for people. I hope you gain weight. You really need to be healthy.

Floey November 15, 2012 at 3:42 am

I think anything you do to make your body feel better should be encouraged.
Just wondering, what types of vitamins do you take? My friend has been encouraging me to take some recently but there are so many out there that I just feel overwhelmed!

Lauren November 15, 2012 at 8:14 am

I take digestive enzymes (+ my meds for Crohon’s), b12, an Omega and a multi. I couldn’t live without the enzymes though. They do WONDERS for me and my gut.

Floey November 16, 2012 at 2:18 pm

Hmm. yea, I think I might be low in B12. My BT also showed my ALT/AST (liver stuff) to be a little high. I have no idea if that has anything to do with it. How do those help your gut?

Mo November 15, 2012 at 8:25 am

Not trying to be a hater, but as a Registered Dietitian that has specialized in dealing with disordered eating, you are a prime example. You can decide to get help or not, but please do not “coach” others on eating and exercise since you obviously are very out of touch with what is healthy and moderate. Your blog is read by many young influence able women that will think this disordered food and exercise regimen is healthy. We already have an epidemic of fertility problems created by this lifestyle of over exercise and under eating. Please keep that in mind if you want to have children in the future.

Ashley November 15, 2012 at 8:40 am

I second this! Get some help Lauren, and stop coaching others to be like you. You look awful, unhealthy, tired, and sad.

Jen November 15, 2012 at 10:27 am

I third this!!!!!!!

Andrea November 15, 2012 at 12:37 pm

Just curious, how is cutting out sugar considered undereating? Where does sugar fit in to the food guide? What health benefit does sugar provide? Some people would argue that cocaine is fine in moderation but I would have to disagree. We also have an epidemic of obesity….can you honestly tell me there is a benefit to your health from eating sugar? Genuinely curious where this attitude is coming from.

Anonymous November 15, 2012 at 1:12 pm

It’s not coming from one specific post. It’s the collection of posts altogether and the general trend one can see when reading them. It’s showing a genuine concern for someone, the image she portrays, the title she gives herself of posing as a wellness advocate, and for young women in general that may happen upon this place and think she, her eating habits, and her body is something to look up to. It’s not.

Genelle November 15, 2012 at 11:18 am

I defnitely have a sweet tooth and am trying to cut back. However, I can’t imagine drinking black coffee! How do you get used to the taste?

Irina @ Chocolatea Time November 15, 2012 at 11:23 am

I have quite the sweet tooth (always have always will!) but over time it’s gotten more sensitive to those overly-sweet candies and desserts. Nowadays, I consume most of my sugar in the form of fruits and chocolate and never think twice about it. I found that giving it up cold-turkey didn’t work for me (I gave it up once for Lent) and my body functions best with some sweet lovin’ in my life!

Best of luck to you!

Danielle November 15, 2012 at 2:06 pm

I love your blog–but why do you write posts that will very obviously cause your readers to comment in a hateful way. A better title for this post would be “ways to cut down on sugar” and not speak from such a personal point of view. You are very thin, and weren’t always, so I think it’s going to be natural for people to think you suffer from disordered eating when you talk about cutting something as little as coconut creamer fom your diet. I hope you don’t think I’m bring rude, I think you are a very healthy, and happy girl, but I do think you could be more sensitive to your readers.

Danielle November 15, 2012 at 2:07 pm

*being*

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