When I come back from holidays or if people tell me they "need to get back into it", I focus on reducing sugar amounts. It’s just one thing I need to focus on for my food plan and if you are like me, I love chocolate and my sweets so this is a good place to start. I don’t cut it out completely, so how much do I reduce by?
Reduce your sugar to the levels recommended by the World Health Organization. For women, 6 teaspoons a day (25g) and for men, 9 teaspoons (37.5g). This is by far the single most effective step in getting a flatter stomach. It has been proven by me and our DIYPT members time and time again.
Why should I avoid sugar?
This question may sound obvious, but you'll be surprised how many times I get asked this question. There are many reasons why you should avoid the sweet stuff:
- It provides fuel for cancer cells
- It impairs the function of white blood cells
- It promotes weight gain
- It makes the body produce less leptin (needed for appetite regulation)
- It disrupts how amino acids transfer to muscles
- It spurs insulin resistance, which can lead to Type II diabetes
- It induces oxidative stress
Not all sugar is terrible for you. Natural sources like that from fruit, honey, and maple syrup aren’t as bad as from processed sugars and HFCS (high fructose corn syrup) but it’s still possible to overdo it. There’s no reason to cut all fruit out of your diet in an attempt to remove all sugar; you’d be giving up all those antioxidants, phytochemicals, fiber, minerals, and vitamins at the same time.
How can I cut sugar out of my diet?
Choose some of these painless methods to help you without making it feel like it’s too hard. My favourite tip is number 4.
- Stop buying processed foods – This is the biggest change you can make as pretty much everything that comes in a box, can or bag has added sugars.
- Choose whole, fresh fruit over juice, dried fruits or other fruit products like fruit snack bars.
- Avoid flavoured yoghurt – most yoghurt has just as much sugar in them as lollies. Don’t eat them! Buy or make your own plain yoghurt and add fruit and if you’re really desperate, honey if you need some sweetness.
- Give yourself a quota - If you are weaning yourself back off of sugar, one of the easiest ways to do it is to give yourself a “quota” when it comes to sugar, and use it on dessert. If you normally eat dessert every day, then cut sugar by avoiding all sweets except at dessert. Over the next few weeks, cut back the amount of desserts you have per week. Another way to help is to replace half of your desserts with fresh fruit.
- Give yourself rules about dessert - Leading in from the last point, once you’ve cut sugar intake back to just desserts, you should then start weaning yourself off of desserts. Give yourself certain days of the week to eat desserts (and no, don’t say “every day that ends in ‘day”). Say, for example, you only eat them on even days, or on weekends, or on special occasions.
- Don’t keep treats in the house – It’s a fact. More often than not, if a treat is in your house, you will eventually eat it.
- Try xylitol or stevia
- Avoid mixed alcohol drinks
- Cut out soft drinks
- Try dark chocolate – if chocolate is your weakness, try dark chocolate because it’s better for you, has health benefits and you’re less likely to eat as much as you would milk chocolate.
How do I track how much sugar intake I’ve had?
I get all our members to track what they eat using this app, because how do you know exactly how much sugar you’ve had if you don’t track it?
Download an App called My Fitness Pal on your smart phone, tablet or you can go to their website and use it on your computer. It is very user friendly, however if you’re struggling and need help, please don’t hesitate to email me.
Remember, keep your eyes on the prize!