Recalibrate Your Diet in 2019
If you are like most people, you spend the entire month of December eating your way through a gingerbread forest—full of gumdrops, candy, cookies, icing and everything sweet. But holidays aren’t the only reason people love sugar—it can also help calm nerves, stress and anxiety for some people. Sugar provides a quick rush of endorphins to keep us calm and make us feel better.
Make this the year you stop your addiction to sugar and sweet treats. In the United States, added sugars account for up to 17 percent of the total calorie intake of adults—seven percent more than dietary recommendations. Rebecca Jilek, MPH, RD, LD, CDE, Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator at St. Elizabeth Physicians Weight Management Center has some tips on how you can recalibrate your diet this year: “It is important to limit your sugar, especially from sugary beverages. Too much added sugar increases your risk for obesity and weight gain.”
6 Tips to Control Your Sugar Intake
Not only can added sugar increase your waistline, but it can also increase your risk for diseases including heart disease, high blood pressure and high blood sugar. To help control your sugar intake, follow these tips from Rebecca:
- Substitute fruit for sugary snacks. Although a sweet treat may provide us the quick rush of endorphins, it doesn’t last long. A piece of fruit will give you a lift and the fiber and nutrient benefits your body needs.
- Have a plan. When you get a craving for something sweet, have a plan on how to handle it—don’t act on it. When the craving starts, you need to take your mind off the fact you want sugar. You can drink eight ounces of water, take the dog for a walk or finish a chapter of your book.
- Eat every three to five hours. If you eat regularly and don’t allow yourself to get hungry, you can usually get past cravings. You make bad eating decisions when you are hungry. Most people will grab a carbohydrate for quick energy when they are hungry, but if you have planned and portioned food every three to five hours, you can make sure your choices include protein and fiber.
- Avoid artificial sweeteners. Studies have shown artificial sweeteners can cause a change in the brain that actually leaves you intensely craving real sugar. If you need to add something sweet to a recipe or drink, add honey.
- Combine healthy foods with healthy sweets. If you don’t want to give up sweets entirely, make sure you choose something with health benefits and combine it with healthy food. You can try bananas dipped in real chocolate or nuts combined with dark chocolate chips.
- Make realistic goals. You may be ready to cut added sugar out of your diet completely, but you may need to ease into the change.
Make sure your goals are realistic for your diet and lifestyle. It can take two to three days to detox from a diet high in sugar. You could feel sluggish and tired during that time. It takes six to 10 days until the sugar high is out of your system. By day 10, you should have significantly fewer sugar cravings. If your goal is not to drink sugary drinks for two weeks, reward yourself with an activity or buy yourself something—but not sugar.
Rebecca says, “It takes time, and changes don’t happen overnight. Find someone to support you through this diet change, and lean on your support when you start to turn to sweets.”
If you need help keeping your weight goals on track, talk to your primary care physician or schedule an appointment at the St. Elizabeth Physicians Weight Management Center by calling 859-212-GOAL (4625). You can also watch our free medical weight management seminar online.