Today I Learned...
utting back on sugar can be hard, but it doesn't have to be.
Here are 3 ways you can start cutting back on sugar today:
1 . Plan your treats in advanced
When it comes to cutting back on sugar, moderation is key. Completely abstaining from sweets often leads to failure—but the context in which you're eating them matters.
Ashley Gearhardt, PhD, an associate professor of psychology at the University of Michigan, helped develop the Yale Food Addiction Scale, a test that pinpoints whether you exhibit addictive eating behavior.
People often crave high-sugar foods when they are lonely or sad, late at night, and without company.
However, take a step back: "Those are not the times to have a moderate scoop of ice cream," she says, as it can spiral into a binge. Instead, introduce the treat foods when you're feeling more positive and relaxed—and have already eaten enough to feel comfortably full.
2 . Do the math
People who are addicted to sugar usually have a pattern of favorite foods. For example, they may always drink flavored coffee or eat certain snacks at the same time each day.
If you realize just how much sugar is in your favorite treat, it can help you stop eating so many sweets, says Laura Schmidt, PhD, professor of health policy at the School of Medicine at University of California, San Francisco.
She suggests looking on the package (or researching it online) and finding out how much sugar is in a serving. Dividing that number by four will give you the amount of teaspoons—a good estimate for daily intake.
Then, measure out that amount of sugar into a glass. "Look at it long and hard," she suggests. "Ask yourself: 'Would I eat this right now?'" The answer will probably be no—which can help you cut back on sweets!
3. Clean up your home
When the University of California, San Francisco decided to stop selling soda as part of their Healthy Beverage Initiative. In just one year the university saw a significant improvement in the health and well-being of students on campus.
"Within 10 months, people dramatically reduced their consumption. Among the positive changes was a reduction in waist circumference," says Schmidt, who's also a scientist behind UCSF's Sugar Science site.
The idea for making this change came from counseling practices that can be applied to alcoholism: They get it out of their environment and grow a supportive group of people in their social circle.
Remove all sources of sugar from your home, and ask your family or close friends whether they'd be willing to do this with you. "Having a group of people in your life who are committed to doing this for their health and longevity will help you stay on track," she says (Source: Oprah).
Cutting back on sugar in your everyday diet doesn't have to be complicated, and we're here to make it easier.
Follow these three easy tips, and you'll be well on your way in no time.