Did you know, based on USDA data, that we’re eating an average of 530 more calories per day than we did in the 1970s? While the additional calories are coming from most of the food groups, our consumption of added sugars has skyrocketed.
We’re now eating 152 pounds per person (about 32 teaspoons per day!) of added sugars and other calorie-rich sweeteners found in most processed food products, up from 124 pounds in the 1970s. In terms of calories, that’s about 512 calories from sugars every day. What’s more, we’re also downing more low-quality refined grains than ever before: We not eat about 200 pounds of grains per person per year, up from 138 pounds in the 1970s. The grain-based foods that represent the increase are items like buns, white bread, cereals, cookies, crackers, cake and other treats.
Experts now agree that too much added sugar and low-quality carbohydrates are making us gain weight—as well as harmful belly fat specifically. The problem with eating sugars and low-quality refined grains is that they turn up our hunger-hormones and make us crave even more of them. These foods are the ones we just can’t say “no” to seconds.
From dealing with our own carb cravings and those of our clients’, we’ve come up with ways you can actually turn down your desire for sweets. It’s not easy but it works. Follow these steps for a week and you’ll be surprised at how great you’ll feel because you’ve taken control of your eating–rather than letting sweets control you!
1. Banish sugary beverages
Since sodas and other sweetened beverages provide about half of all the added sugar in the typical American diet, they’re the first to jettison. They don’t contribute to fullness so you won’t miss them.
2. Be a sugar sleuth
For one week, read the Nutrition Facts and ingredient list for everything you eat and drink. If “sugars” on the label are more than 8 grams, go directly to the ingredient list and skip it if you see a form of added sugars in the ingredient list. If there is no sugar in the ingredient list, it means that the food or beverage contains natural sugars; we don’t we don’t worry about them because they’re not “metabolically equivalent” to added sugars.
Use our guide to see the 46 names for added sugars food manufacturers use in their products.
3. Avoid sweets early in the day
Starting your day off right is one of the best ways to stay on track with any diet. For me, a sugar-free breakfast would be eggs & veggies or egg white omelets. Research shows that eating eggs for breakfast, compared to toast or bagels, eat fewer calories over a 24-hour period, most likely because eating eggs doesn’t cause the same blood sugar and insulin response as a carbohydrate-rich breakfast. I also opt for plain oatmeal with Greek yogurt or peanut butter; fresh fruit; dried fruit and nuts; baked potatoes with low-fat cottage cheese or low-fat cottage cheese with cherry tomatoes. Here’s a week’s worth of high-protein breakfasts to try.
4. Enjoy foods with natural sugars
Don’t think about what you can’t have; focus on what you can eat and drink. For sweets, try dried fruit, (dates are sugar like candy to me now), fresh fruit, roasted veggies, and caramelized onions. There are many foods that provide natural sweetness—they’ve just been pushed aside by the more intensely sweet crystal whites.