Science is continually revealing more and more reasons to stay away from sugar, especially for individuals with diabetes. Increased risks of diabetes complications, heart disease, and cancer have been connected to the consumption of sugar.
Everyone knows that in order to benefit long-term health, sugar should be avoided.
The tricky part is, sugar is literally everywhere. So, how do you identify it, avoid it, and kick your cravings when it’s all you can think about?
Sugar by any other name would taste as sweet. Don’t let the name “sugar” fool you. Corn syrup, dextrose, fructose, sucrose, maltose, maltodextrin, all are sugars and all should be avoided. Check your food and beverage labels carefully.
Let’s begin by taking a look at how we start the day. When you wake up, be sure to drink plenty of water. Yes, the coffee pot is calling, but it is crucial to give your body water as soon as possible after waking up. It rehydrates your body and starts your metabolism for the day.
In fact, dehydration is a major part of sugar (and salt) cravings. Faced with a chocolate doughnut in the break-room at work that you simply have to have? Walk away, eat a handful of almonds and drink a large glass of water instead. Wait 15 minutes. Yes, you can imagine that the doughnut would still taste good, but do you really have to have it?
Now that the doughnut is out of the picture, what’s for breakfast – a bowl of cereal? Packaged and processed cereals are often full of sugar, even the “healthier choices.” Try starting your day with protein instead. A hard boiled egg, a few slices of turkey, or this recipe for a smoked bacon and asparagus popover are all great options. Protein will give you plenty of energy and keep you feeling fuller longer.
The dangers of added and hidden sugars can begin before you can even make it to work. Stopping by your favorite coffee shop for your daily double mocha? Specialty coffee drinks are often full of sugar. Even if you order your beverage “skinny”, the sugar-free syrup that is used is no better for you than the real stuff.
Science is now showing us that artificial sweeteners could be just as harmful to the body as real sugar. Heck, some artificial sweeteners literally destroy your body from the inside out on a cellular level. Aspartame, anyone? Sucralose, saccharin, acesulfame, are all names for artificial sugar and can wreak havoc in the body.
Try carrying packets of your favorite natural sweetener, like z-sweet, with you. Order a black coffee, add your own full-fat milk or cream, and then add your own sweetener. This way you know exactly what is going into your body and you are in control.
Why not add some cinnamon to your coffee as well? Cinnamon is a great way to add sweet, slightly spicy flavor, and offers incredible health benefits for diabetics. By adding seasonings like oils, vinegars, and citrus to your foods and drinks, you make them more flavorful. When healthy food is more flavorful, you have an easier time resisting the sweet (and salty) choices that can compromise your health.
Speaking of less beneficial choices, don’t give yourself the choice. When grocery shopping, make a list and stick to it. Shop from the list and do not pick something off of the shelf simply because it looks good and you want it in that moment.
Keep to the perimeter of the store – meats, seafood, dairy, and produce. The whole, clean foods you are looking for will not be found down the aisles. The boxed and packaged foods in the middle of the store contain all manner of less-than-desirable ingredients including sugar.
By only bringing healthy foods into your home, you are setting yourself up for success. If a food is not around, you are less likely to indulge. For example, if you really want a bag of chips but there are no chips in the house- are you going to get up, put on your shoes, find your keys, drive to the store, wait in line, then drive back home all for one little bag of chips?
Now, if you haven’t eaten all day and are faced with an empty refrigerator, you are more likely to “go the distance” to get those chips. Do not skip meals and allow yourself to go hungry.
Not only will you increase your likelihood of settling for an unhealthy food choice, you are also devastating your blood sugar. It is important to keep blood sugar stable, especially for diabetics. When you skip a meal, your blood sugar will drop. As soon as you put the first bite of anything in your mouth, your sugar will rise. If what you put in your mouth contains sugar (real or artificial) your blood sugar will skyrocket. This can be very dangerous, and can have a lasting impact on your health.
A general consensus from experts is to eat every three to five hours. This keeps your metabolism running, keeps blood sugar more stable, and prevents you from getting irritable due to hunger. Your meals should contain protein, good fats, and fiber. Good fats and fiber not only offer nutrients and health benefits of their own, they will also help regulate blood sugar and prevent hunger.
With these tips it is possible to live a full, healthy, delicious life. Ironically, when you give up sugar, your quality of life will only get sweeter!