If you love sweets, then you know how easy it is to eat more sugar than you should. Maybe you’ve had a doctor warn you to cut back and maybe you have at least a few extra pounds to lose . . .
Candy, cookies, pastries, and other sweets are high in sugar, which is quickly and efficiently stored as body fat. And the more sugar that you eat, the more you crave it. It’s a rough situation for you and your sweet tooth, it’s as if your sweet tooth is against you ever meeting your summer body goal!
Don’t lose heart! It is very possible to gradually reduce the amount of sugar in your diet in a way that that’s almost painless and practical. I have a 28-day plan here to help you to cut back on sugar consumption without going crazy. By reducing the refined sugar in your diet, you’ll probably experience an automatic drop in body fat – this means inches and sizes lost! Sound good? Let’s do this!
Cut Back Sugar: Week One
In this first week, your goal is to get an accurate idea of how much sugar you are currently consuming. You’ll act as a reporter on your eating habits for a full week, writing down (or using an app to log) everything you consume (eat AND drink).
This week is only for reporting. I don’t want you to change anything about your diet yet. Eat as you normally do, but tally sugar grams at each meal and snack. Yes, even your drink at the coffee shop and your wine or cocktail at dinner. Look up the sugar content of everything you consume and record it.
By the end of this week you will have a clear picture of how much sugar you are eating and which items in your diet are the most sugar-filled. You can also note when you are most likely to consume sugar. (late at night, when tired mid-day, etc.)
Cut Back Sugar: Week Two
In this second week, your goal is to eliminate liquid sugar. It is all too easy to consume large amounts of sugar in beverages, often without even noticing. You know which beverages in your diet contain sugar, from your reporting last week, so target and cut out these beverages.
Sweetened coffee drinks, smoothies, alcoholic beverages, sweetened sodas and teas should all be replaced with zero calorie options. Try liquid stevia for sweetening beverages (if you must), it has a more pleasing flavor than powdered stevia. Avoid super processed sweeteners like Splenda or aspartame as these may cause bloating and cravings for more sugar.
In addition to focusing on removing sugary drinks this week, I also want you to focus on drinking lots and lots of water. Drink 8 ounces of water before, during and after every meal and snack. Your goal is 2-4 quarts or liters of water every day. (The larger you are, the more water you need.)
Cut Back Sugar: Week Three
In this third week, we are now going to focus on eliminating the food in your diet that contain refined sugars.
What’s great about this gradual approach to cutting out sugar is that over the course of the first two weeks, while you recorded your sugar consumption and then cut out sugary liquids, you likely found yourself instinctively beginning to choose items that are lower in sugar. That’s great! That’s going to make this week all that much easier as you begin to pass on those sugar-laden snacks and desserts.
This week, target and eliminate the food items in your diet that contain refined sugars. These are candies and snacks, dressings and sauces, desserts, granola bars, sweetened yogurts. Read labels and check sugar grams. Swap these items out for naturally sweetened treats – sweetened with a little bit of fresh fruit.
Cut Back Sugar: Week Four
You are in the home stretch! As you enter week four, you should already be noticing your clothes feeling a little looser, and your energy levels should be stabilizing. During this week I’d like you to once again record everything that you eat and drink. Tally up the sugar grams and take notice of anything that you’re still consuming that’s high in sugar.
Consume MORE vegetables, more protein and keep up your water intake.
This week should reinforce the healthy changes you’ve implemented and keep you accountable. If you find yourself really missing a certain sugar-filled item, look for healthier, naturally low-sugar replacement foods to enjoy instead of reverting back to your old habits. Or, enjoy that special treat once in a while, instead of on a regular basis.
The key now is to maintain your new, low-sugar, habits. The first month is always the most difficult, as new habits are formed, so you’ve already done the hardest part! Going forward, whenever you find yourself getting hooked back on sugar, go through this four week process again to get back on track.
In addition to removing refined sugar from your diet, participating in a challenging, consistent exercise plan is vital for fat loss.