So, you want to quit white, refined sugar. Maybe you've tried before, maybe you think it's impossible. Maybe you don't want to quit, but you are still curious what the process of quitting looks like. Maybe you need a year to think about quitting. For me it's cold turkey or I won't do it. I realize this isn't the tactic for everyone, but even if you quit sugar slowly, weaning yourself from the addiction day by day, I think these pointers will work for you, as well. If you have any pointers of your own or suggestions or comments, please let me know, as I will most likely re-post on New Year's Eve. What works for you? Do share!
* * * How to Quit Sugar * * *
- Make a grocery list and visit a local health food store. If you don't have a health food store in the area, try to find these items anyway, or do some online ordering.
- Stock your kitchen with all kinds of naturally sweetened goodies. Here are some examples for when that sweet tooth comes a'callin:
- 100% fruit juice (I'm not a wine snob, I'm a grape juice snob. I drink R.W. Knudsen)
- Dried fruit, fresh fruit, frozen fruit (smoothies)
- Naturally sweetened cookies and ice cream
- Ingredients to bake with: natural sweeteners, grain-sweetened chocolate chips, pure cocoa, unsweetened almond or rice milk, honey, molasses, agave, brown rice syrup, etc.
- Buy some flavored tea that you wouldn't normally get. Get cream and make sure you have honey. You won't believe how wonderful some of those hot teas are with a drop of cream and a spoonful of honey. My favorites are the spicy flavors and the vanilla/nut flavors. Buy plenty. Treat yourself. Spend more money than you normally would on tea. This may be what it takes to keep off of sugar. It sure beats the price of hypnosis.
- Make sure you buy naturally sweetened breads, chips, crackers, salad dressings, etc. These normally have hidden sugars and you don't want to cheat just because all of your salad dressings have sugar, do you? Also, remember to get cereals and other snacky foods that are naturally sweetened. If you don't have a health food store, there is one huge commercial brand of cereal that consistently keeps sugar out of its ingredients: Post Grape Nuts.
- Double-check your kitchen. Is it stocked? Make sure it's full of naturally sweetened goodies.
- Keep junk food in your kitchen. Yes, you read that right. It's good practice to have junk food available, because then you can practice turning it down and choosing something healthier. I was going to throw out all of our junk food last year, but not only was that not fair to Jeff, but if I didn't see junk food on a daily basis, how would I react when I did see it? You'll have to think about this. Even if you live alone, you want to have junk food available to your guests, right? You still want to have visitors, and they certainly want their junk food. They don't want to go on your sugar-free diet! However, if you are an excellent cook, it is possible to make naturally sweetened goodies for your guests, but keep in mind that it usually takes white sugar to satisfy the sweet tooth of those on a white sugar diet. Honey will not satisfy. It takes a couple of months to change your palate and train your sweet tooth to like natural sweeteners. If you know yourself well enough to know that you will sneak treats if they're around, then by all means, clean out your kitchen. Just ask guests to bring their own goodies.
- Do not buy "Sugar Free!" labeled goodies. These are tricky gimmicks usually found in the regular cookie aisle, and they are sweetened with a laxative otherwise known as Maltitol. It's the worst sugar substitute I've ever experienced. If you read the fine print on the label, there will be a disclosure statement warning against eating too many. Well, I don't want to worry about a laxative affect. Sometimes I just want to eat the whole box of cookies, thank you very much. Anyway, name brands like Oreos will have a "Sugar Free" variety of their product right next to the original variety. Beware, I have checked the labels and they contain maltitol.
- Do buy "naturally sweetened" and "No Sugar Added", as these terms usually mean what they say. Read the label to be safe, but these are terms that usually identify good products.
- Check for "Sucralose" which is a generic term for Splenda. You can make your own decision about Splenda. I don't touch it.
- Decide how dedicated you are to eating sugar free--are you focused mainly on quitting desserts? Drinks with sugar? Breads and cereals? If you are just trying to stay away from "sweets", that's one thing. It is another issue to go without white sugar entirely, because it is included in so many ingredients. Now, before you start, is a good time to decide how far you are going to take this. Keep in mind that sugar is in just about everything packaged and hidden in foods at restaurants. If taking your goal to this extreme seems too hard, don't give up. Start with sweets/cookies/obvious no-nos. Consider going 100% sugar free later. You have to find your starting point. Something that is realistic. For me, because I had practiced going weeks at a time without sugar, it wasn't a huge deal to do it again for a year.
- Set a realistic starting point/goal for yourself!