Do you find yourself working out and not losing belly fat? If so, one potential cause can be that you’re consuming too many sugary foods and drinks. In fact, sugar is often times the biggest cause of belly fat in women. When you eat too much sugar, your body has to burn off the sugar before it can even start burning off fat. That means if you’re trying to get rid of belly fat, eliminating sugar from your diet will make it easier for your body to burn the fat you want to lose. Easier said than done right? Learning how to curb sugar cravings and eliminate refined sugar from my diet has been the hardest part of transitioning to a clean lifestyle.
My number one lifelong weakness has always been SUGAR!!! I grew up having sweets and candy as a food group. No shade on my parents but Lordy did I have a massive sweet tooth…more like a mouth full of sweet teeth!!! My Mom is a baker so you name it we had it in our kitchen…daily. Brownies, cookies, cake, pie, ice cream, cheesecake, coffee cake and on and on. Not only that but I would buy boxes and boxes of candies; nerds, bottle caps, hot tamales, I was a HARD CORE junkie!! Fast forward to present I would say the number one thing I avoid is REFINED SUGAR!!
Curbing sugar for me was probably close to what a smoker experiences with quitting smoking. You crave it and have to actively and aggressively avoid it. The discipline it takes is damn near superhero!! But I am here to say it can be done!! As with most things, I’m hardcore and intense. In order for me to kick refined sugar I went hardcore…cold turkey hardcore. I did a detox to get things started. I didn’t just want a break from refined sugar I wanted it removed from my life. My goal was teach my body to crave natural sugars or an even greater miracle, not need or want it all together!!
4 Steps to Kickoff Healthy Eating
Detox: Kickstart your organs and mind. Don’t trip, curbing your refined sugar will take more mental strength than anything else. A detox like the 3-day Detox I shared this past summer is the perfect way to reset your eating habits and curb sugar cravings.
While detoxing remove all possible temptations form your home. I mean PURGE!!! Especially the freezer and pantry.
Fill your kitchen with natural sugar ahem…fruits and veggies. Plant based sugar is not like refined sugar in one major way. Insulin. When you eat refined sugar your body has to dump insulin into your body to counteract the sugar. When you eat all natural plant based sugar your body actually converts it into energy for the body!! Meaning your body knows what to do with natural sugars.
Give yourself time. You may not be able to kick it one detox, you may have to try a few times. The point is to keep trying. With each successive time you will get closer and closer to whatever goal you have for yourself.
Top 10 Tips to Avoid Sugar and Curb Sugar Cravings:
- NO SODA. Absolutely under no circumstances have SODA or non-freshly pressed juice or pre-packaged drinks in general. NONE. In my case that also includes alcohol. I never drink…EVER! In place of soda or alcohol, try reaching for a kombucha instead. Not only does kombucha have the same fizz as soft drinks, the health benefits of kombucha are plentiful. As you’ll recall when I shared my tips for making homemade kombucha, it helps to maintain a healthy gut and it increases the absorption of nutrients from the food you eat.
- Avoid hidden sugar!! This means NO pre-packaged salad dressings, crackers, bbq chips, ketchup (we know this can be a food group all to itself), cookies and so forth. Instead make your own!! BTW, salad dressing is so dang easy to make!!
- Which brings me to – COOK!!! In order to set yourself up for success you have to be willing to get up, get in the kitchen and make food for yourself!! If you are not willing to do this step you might as well say you don’t really want to curb sugar. It is harsh but true. You have to take control!! In order to do that you have to make your own food and desserts.
- When going out…No shame in bringing your own!! Yep, I either pre-eat before going to a party or bring my own. I do not care if that makes me the ONE who everyone teases or thinks is “high maintenance”. Damn straight I am!! My body demands that I maintain it to the HIGHEST STANDARDS!!
- Train your mind to think in the long term. Whenever I feel weak, I think to myself is this xyz worth it?? Haven’t we come so far, do you really need this…then I DRINK WATER!! So many times when your body is craving ANYTHING more than likely you need to drink water!! Cravings hit, drink water. Wait 10 minutes. I bet it goes away ;)))
- Switch to plant based sweeteners instead of refined sweeteners. Some examples are dates, raw honey and even fruit. Dates in particular are very sweet and are a great source of iron, fiber and potassium. I love adding dates to my salads! I also consume about 2 teaspoons of raw local honey a day for my allergies. Not only does it knock out my sugar craving for the day but honey has loads of holistic health benefits. This means NO BROWN SUGAR in your oatmeal, try honey or dried fruit instead.
- Yogurt for dessert. OKAY so not everyone likes yogurt, but I find that it makes a surprisingly nice substitute for dessert. Of course, it MUST BE plain unsweetened yogurt. I eat plain plant based cashew yogurt. I add a drizzle of honey, a few slices of bananas, berries and nuts. For me it does the trick. The best part is the yogurt is a great source of probiotics, while the berries are high in fiber and low in sugar. Adding nuts is a great source of healthy fat and protein. Eating berries and nuts regularly can actually help reduce your risk factors of diabetes and heart disease.
- Smoothie QUEEN. Yep, when you really need a jolt of sugar make an all fruit smoothie. A little frozen bananas, strawberries, and greens blended down with unsweetened almond milk will surely kick the sweet craving! Not to mention you gain the health benefits of the fruit and greens.
- Legumes. Since I eat a plant based diet, I consume lots of lentils, beans and chickpeas. Not only are legumes a great source of protein and fiber but they are also very filling and when you aren’t hungry you tend to not crave unnecessary food and sugar. Some of my favorite meals and snacks are lentil soup, hummus, and falafels.
- Dark Chocolate. When I do have a craving I can’t beat, I’ll allow myself to indulge in a square of dark chocolate. The key is moderation. One or two squares is plenty to knock out that craving and dark chocolate (70% cocoa or higher) is a healthier option.
These tips are super effective at helping me curb sugar cravings. Like anything in life, keep in mind that it’s okay to indulge every now and then. Have that piece of chocolate or gelato or pumpkin pie!! The key is moderation. I don’t believe that occasional treat will harm you. It’s the habitual refined sugar that is most concerning.
Do you struggle with sugar cravings?