In one summer I read about 15 different books on nutrition. They ranged from the traditional and nutrition for peak athletic performance to blood type diet, food combing and food timing. The one overriding common theme was if you are going to cut out one thing for overall health it is sugar. The U.S. government dietary guidelines report from 2015 showed added sugars make up more than 13% of our daily calorie intake. Almost half of all our added sugars are found in beverages. These include soft drinks, juices, energy drinks, sweetened coffee or tea, alcoholic drinks and flavored waters. Sugar is also in many processed foods spaghetti sauce, yogurt, peanut butter, ketchup and salad dressing.
So how do we break the addiction? Less processed carbs will help. Processed carbs create sugar cravings. Eat a little protein at every meal and in snacks for longer lasting energy. Sugar gives us a short term energy high and then we crash, therefore need more sugar. I gave up soft drinks over 20 years ago. Naturally flavored teas really helped me kick the habit. Now I drink loose leaf teas with all natural flavors. My new favorite summer tea has dried real coconut pieces. My winter tisane (the strange looking dried herbs and fruits pictured above) has “holidayish” flavors. This mix among other things includes dried apricots, orange peel, rosemary, cloves and allspice. I go for this before the Christmas cookies and most times I don’t have any or at least have less.
Very few people are the cold turkey type. My coaching mantra was what we resist persists. It can take a month to two months for tastes to change. So start by replacing one sugary beverage a day with a naturally flavored water or tea. Then in a few weeks substitute another one. Or just cut down the amount of sweetener in a beverage gradually. Then you are on your way to less added sugar.