13 Easy Ways to Break Your Sugar Addiction

Whether you're looking to stop your sugar cravings or cut sugar out of your diet, these simple tricks will help you reach your goal.

From Stealth Health (Reader's Digest Association Books)

Do not go cold turkey.

The more sugar you eat, the more you'll crave. So cutting down slowly is the best way to stop your sugar addiction. If you normally have two candy bars a day, cut to one a day. Then next week, one every other day. The following week, one every three days, until you're down to just one a week. If you normally take 2 teaspoons of sugar in your coffee, use the same routine, cutting down to 1 1/2 teaspoons for a week, then 1, then 1/2. Eventually, get to the point where you don't need sugar at all.


Go half and half.

You might already know to mix half a regular soda with half a diet soda, or cut your juice with water. But you can also eat half a carton of sweetened yogurt with half a carton of plain yogurt, or toss your pasta with a sauce made half with plain tomatoes and half with your usual sugar-added sauce. Do this for two weeks, then cut back to one-quarter sweetened to three-quarters unsweetened. Continue until you're only serving the unsweetened version. If you're having a hard time cutting back on sodas or juices, try drinking a glass of iced water, soda water, or homemade flavored water every other time you reach for a drink.

Set a daily sugar quota where it matters most.

For many people, that means desserts. Don't waste it on hidden sugars in dressings, spreads, peanut butter, breakfast cereals, and soda, or added sugars in coffee or tea. (Try all-fruit spreads: sweet as sugar, and good in hot tea, plain yogurt, or instead of syrup or honey.) Once you reduce your sugar intake for the day, it will help you lose your sweet tooth. Again, sugar is incredibly addictive: The more you eat, the more addictive it becomes and the more it takes to satisfy you. The opposite is also true: Train your taste buds to become accustomed to less and you'll be satisfied with less.

Make rules around dessert.

For instance, only have dessert after dinner, never lunch. Only eat dessert on odd days of the month, or only on weekends, or only at restaurants. If you have a long tradition of daily desserts, then make it your rule to have plain fruit at least half the time. As you cut back, you'll notice your cravings slow down too.

And make rules around trigger foods.

That means cookies, cake, or ice cream. A half gallon of ice cream in the freezer is temptation defined. Our rule? No ice cream kept at home. Ice cream should always be a treat worth traveling for.

Don't add sugar to foods.

Many everyday recipes—including those for vegetables, soups, casseroles, and sauces—call for sugar to add sweetness. In most cases, it's just not needed. So if you're making biscuits, for instance, you probably can skip the sugar. Substitute applesauce or pureed prunes for half the sugar in recipes; you can also use them in place of the recipe's fat. Make your own barbecue sauce, which will cut out the extra sugar in the ketchup.

Watch for hidden sugar.

Cough syrups, chewing gum, mints, tomato sauce, baked beans, and lunch meats often contain sugar. Even some prescription medications contain sugar. For a week, be particularly vigilant and scan every possible food label. Given that 1 tablespoon ketchup can contain about 1/2 teaspoon sugar, buying sugar-free condiments can help cut your sugar consumption.

Know what sugar is called:

Common names for sugar include brown sugar, corn syrup, dextrin, dextrose, fructose, fruit juice concentrate, high-fructose corn syrup, galactose, glucose, honey, hydrogenated starch, invert sugar maltose, lactose, mannitol, maple syrup, molasses, polyols, raw sugar, sorghum, sucrose, sorbitol, turbinado sugar, and xylitol.

Nix the sports bars and drinks.

They're loaded with the "s" word! Same with many protein powders. Reach for water and fruit after a workout.

Think rich and decadent, in tiny portions.

Dip fresh strawberries into nonfat chocolate sauce, scatter chocolate sprinkles over unsweetened, plain yogurt, or eat a mini-piece of dark chocolate—which you should freeze so it lasts longer in your mouth.


Choose the right breakfast cereal.

Many are loaded with sugar. Even the healthy ones can make you fat, here's what to look for. You want one with less than 8 grams sugar per serving or, preferably, unsweetened altogether like steel-cut oatmeal. Use diced fruit to sweeten your bowl.


Don't skip meals.

Too busy to eat? When you go without breakfast, lunch, or dinner, your blood sugar levels drop, propelling you toward high-sugar (often convenience, ie processed) foods to quell your cravings.

Go for a walk when you crave sweetness.

Studies find that athletes' preference for sweetened foods declines after exercise. Instead, they prefer salty foods.

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