How many of us say “I eat way too much junk”? Probably most of us, present company included.
I find that when summer rolls around, my sense of self-control when it comes to sugar flies out the window. Cold lemonade, an ice cream cone, or a large iced coffee often become staples of my diet when the hot weather comes in. But the sad fact is, these foods and beverages are loaded with added sugar, which is bad for your skin, gut, and body overall.
I am not a person who counts calories or does any sort of crazy diets, but I have recently found that my sugar intake was affecting me more than I wanted. Constant breakouts and weight gain were bumming me out. But how could I give up my beloved sugar? Luckily, I have found solutions that work for me and could work for you too.
In a nutshell, it’s all about small changes and lifestyle choices. Cutting out food groups entirely is difficult, unsustainable, and generally unnecessary. You’ve heard this a thousand times before, but it’s about moderation and portion control. For me, I told myself I don’t need to cut out sugar, but rather be conscious about the amount I am taking in, and modifying my diet accordingly.
Let’s start with food. For me, I can’t live without ice cream in the summer. Even other sweets are somehow more appealing to me when it’s hot outside. Who knows why. What I’ve started doing to curb those cravings, is eating a healthier alternative to see if it helps that sweet tooth go away. A bowl of mixed berries with whipped cream on top (a dollop of Reddi Whip is only 15 calories and 1 gram of sugar) can satisfy that sweet tooth without packing on added sugars. Although fruit is still high in sugar, it’s not that highly processed added junk that’s the worst for you.
Sometimes when you crave sugar, it truly means your body needs more sugar. Don’t ignore the craving, just find ways around it. After that fruit has settled in your tum, if you still are craving sweets, have that cup of ice cream. Now you’ll be fuller and eat less.
When you simply must have those sweet treats (because who doesn’t!), just make sure you don’t eat more than the serving size. Serve the two cookies, or the half cup of Ben& Jerry’s, and then put the package away. Never ever eat straight from the container, it’s the worst way to mindlessly take in added sugar.
If you are really craving ice cream and don’t think fruit will cut it for you, you can also try alternatives like Halo Top Ice cream that’s all the rage right night. Made with plant-based proteins, this ice cream is lower in fat and sugar than other brands.
Now onto drinks. I didn’t realize just how much sugar was in beverages until I started reading labels more. It’s actually shocking. A glass of lemonade is about 25 grams of sugar. The World Health Organization recommends only about 25 grams of added sugar a day. One glass of lemonade and you’ve already hit your recommended limit! It’s wild. Various iced coffees, macchiatos, lattes, etc. from your favorite coffee shops can have anywhere from 30-60 grams of sugar. This literally blew my mind.
To combat this, I like drinking flavored seltzers that still have a sweet taste without the added sugar. Or sometimes, I will mix half a cup of lemonade with half a cup of seltzer for a sweet summer spritzer with much less sugar. When it comes to iced coffees, I like mine sweet and have a hard time cutting it out entirely. So what I do is reduce my weekly visits. I allow myself to indulge in a sweet iced delight no more than once a week. It’s possible, I promise! Or make iced coffee at home, where you’ll probably put in less pizzazzy add-ins like caramels swirls and whipped cream, etc. I will say though, don’t use artificial sweeteners as a replacement. They have been repeatedly proven to have adverse long-term side effects, plus they actually make your body crave sugar more. BOOOOO.
I’m definitely not trying to preach here, but rather bring attention to non-sucky alternatives to help cut back on sugar this summer. I am also not saying not to eat these foods, trust me I still indulge. However, I’ve noticed changes in my own body since I’ve started reducing intake. The more sugar you eat, the more your body craves it. So if you start cutting back, you’ll crave it less.
What are your favorite sweet alternatives?