Let’s just get a few things clear before we get started:
- Some sugar is actually needed for your body to function (see resources below).
- As a modern population, sugar is in a lot of our food (especially added sugars), so it’s easy to consume more than you realize.
- Holidays and special events can increase sugar intake because of treats and candy. (and we are totally not against some indulgence once in a while!)
The bottom line, living a completely sugar-free lifestyle is pretty difficult in this modern-day mom life, and just like any other health trend, if it’s not easy to adopt and maintain for long-term wellness, finding a way to make sustainable changes is more ideal.
Instead of going cold turkey and cutting 100% of the sugar out of your diet, we’ve got a few ideas on how you can lessen your sugar intake.
How to Quit (some) Sugar without Feeling Deprived:
A few things you can do to make cut sugar intake without feeling deprived:
1. Create Awareness
Awareness is always step one for The Driven Mama Method to Rocking Your Mama Life.
First, do you know how much sugar or added sugars you’re consuming on a daily basis? As I mentioned above, some sugar is needed for your body and brain to function, but since added sugars are sneaky little buggers that get added to just about every processed food these days, you may want to get an idea of just how much sugar you’re eating every day and how it averages out for the week.
Try this: For one week, make a point to eat like you normally would (without judgment or self-criticism), and use a journal or an app to track how much sugar and added sugars are in your food.
Then, at the end of the week, take a look at the numbers.
According to The Mayo Clinic and the 2015 – 2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, it’s recommended that no more than 10% of your daily calories from sugar.
Take a curious approach after collecting your data and ask yourself if you still want to try to cut more sugar from your diet, or are you happy with the information you collected? You decide.
2. Out of sight, out of mind
If you know you’re overconsuming sugar and want to cut down, an easy way to eliminate some extra sugar intake is to not look at it or have to smell it. We know that will power only gets us so far, so don’t torture yourself or have to “say no” to yourself all day long. Instead, just get rid of it.
Do a quick inventory of places where added sugar may be sneaking into your life and get rid of them (or donate it to a food shelf).
Think of places like your car, your fridge, and your pantry. These are common places for candy, cookies, soda and other sugary “extras” can make their way into our lives.
3. Find an alternative over depriving yourself
As a wellness coach, I focus on helping my clients find easy ways to make changes in their life. We know from studies that cutting something out of our lives and creating deprivation is a formula for rebound and feeling like you failed.
Instead, if you’ve decided you’re going to stop drinking soda, find an alternative with less added sugars to drink during the times where you would normally have soda. **Check out the food swap list below for a few ideas.
4. If you really want it, have it. (aka mindful eating)
A common example that gets used in the mindful eating space is wanting to eat a cookie. Let’s say you’re craving a cookie, but you’re trying not to eat it. You decide to have just a crumb, which turns into a bite, and before you know it, you’ve not only eaten the whole box of cookies, but you’re shaming, judging and criticizing yourself for it, too, which leaves you feeling even worse than before you had the cookie.
Instead, the next time you’re craving something like a cookie, give yourself full permission to enjoy it. Sit down and eat it slowly without distractions. Really let yourself enjoy the experience. When you’re done with your treat, you’ll feel more satisfied without the guilt or shame. And, you’ll be less likely to binge on the whole box.
5. Drink water (and add some fiber)
Sometimes our hunger cues can confuse us. If you’re starting to crave a sweet, try drinking a glass of water and adding in a fiber-filled snack to go with it and see if that helps your sugar craving.
If it doesn’t, see the point above about mindful eating.
6. Prioritize Fruit, Veggies & whole-food fiber options
As a mom on the go, I know how easy it can be to need something to eat while I’m running off to my next meeting, or running late for an appt. There’s no shame in grabbing a granola bar or bag of crackers on your way out if that’s your only option. Sometimes that’s just mom-life at its best.
But, if you have a few extra minutes on a Sunday to food-prep, I recommend prioritizing your snacks for the week by slicing up and making little grab and go veggies and washing up fruit so it’s an easy snack for you or your kids.
An apple and a small bag of almonds is one of my default “grab and go” snacks when I’m on the run.
Ideas for less sugar alternatives:
- Candy bar – Trail mix with almonds and dark cocoa nibs (about 6 grams vs 12 grams)
- Ice Cream – A bowl of fruit with whipped cream (about 4 grams of sugar vs. 15 grams of sugar)
- Fun-size Candybar – Sugar-Free Gum (0 grams vs 8 grams)
- Cake/Brownies – Greek yogurt and almonds (about 6 grams vs 15 grams)
- Soda/Pop – Fruit infused water (about 2 grams vs 39 grams)
Tips to remember:
- “Sugar-free” doesn’t always mean “healthy” – Be careful of processed foods that call out being “sugar-free”, and they often have a less natural sweetener that can other challenges.
- Set an “experiment” at the beginning of the week – Adopting an experimental mentality as part of your overall wellness journey is an essential step to eliminating guilt or being critical to yourself. Wellness is a journey, which means it’s always evolving depending on what is going on in your life in that current moment.
- Take baby steps – Taking one small step at a time will help you create lasting changes for the long-haul. Instead of cutting out all sugar in your life, what is one small swap or shift you can try and experiment with to see how it goes.
- Stay non-critical and use self-compassion – you are a busy mom – if at the end of the day you have to grab a snickers bar at the gas station to stop yourself from becoming a “hangry momster”, it’s not the end of the world. You are still a great mom and you’re doing the best you can. End of story.
Are you on a journey to eat less sugar on a daily basis? Comment below and let us know how you’re planning to get started.