If you love sweets, then you know how easy it is to consume more sugar than you should. You’ve probably had a doctor warn you to cut back and know that you have at least a few pounds to lose.
Candy, cookies, pastries, fruity drinks and other sweets are high in sugar, which are quickly 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 goals!
Don’t lose heart! It is very possible to gradually reduce the amount of sugar in your diet in a way that is 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 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, recording down everything you consume.
This week is mainly for reporting. You don’t need to change anything about your diet just yet. I just want you to become aware of what you’re eating. Knowledge is power and your eyes will be opened when you begin tracking. 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. I like the ease of using the free My Fitness Pal app…see below:
If you’re a MyFitnessPal user, then you can friend-request me, my username is: fitnessbypatty
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 most sugar-filled.
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.
If you can’t quite cut it out just yet, try using a drop of liquid stevia for sweetening beverages without adding sugar – it has a more pleasing flavor than powdered stevia. Or even better, get a fresh stevia plant and add a leaf or two to your beverage. Avoid super processed sweeteners like Splenda, Equal, Sweet’N Low, aspartame as these can cause bloating and cravings for more sugar.
In addition to focusing on removing sugary drinks this week, I also want you to focus on increasing your consumption of water. Drink at least 8 ounces of fresh clean water before, during and after every meal and snack. Aim to consume 80-100 oz of water each day.
Cut Back Sugar: Week Three
In this third week we are now going to focus on eliminating the food in your diet that contains 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 packaged candies and snacks, dressings and sauces, desserts, sweetened yogurts, and more.
Swap these items out for naturally sweet treats, such as fresh or frozen fruit.. but be mindful of the portion! An actual ‘serving size’ of fruit for example, is a 1/2 cup of fresh berries, 1 medium sized apple, or 1/2 banana. Sugar grams can hide in so many things, such as salad dressings, flavored waters, yogurt, etc.
**Be sure to read labels and check sugar grams!
Also, to help replace the really sweet high sugar foods, try adding in more vegetables that are naturally sweeter, to help ease your transition. I love sweet potatoes, sugar snap peas, carrots, beets, and sweet peas, for example.
Cut Back Sugar: Week Four
You are on 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.
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 then look for healthier, low-sugar replacement foods to enjoy instead of reverting back to your old habits. In general, I tell my clients to not consume more than 60g of sugar in a day.
Make It A Habit
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 then go through this four week process again to get back on track.
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