For the story on how I reduced my sugar consumption, read this post.

Introduction

Sugar consumption skyrocketed in the last 160 years along with obesity.  Some studies show correlation between obesity and sugar consumption like the image below.  Causation is harder to prove.  I’m not taking chances, given that many studies show sugar as a main driver of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and some cancers.  If you eat soda, juice, donuts, white bread, candy, cookies, or other sweet snacks or drinks more than once or twice per week, you may want to check yourself before you wreck yourself and read on.

 

Source: Johnson RJ, et al. Potential role of sugar (fructose) in the epidemic of hypertension, obesity and the metabolic syndrome, diabetes, kidney disease, and cardiovascular disease. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2007.

 
 
How can you cut down on sugar consumption more easily?  Select one of these four methods to reduce your sugar consumption:
  1. Replacement
  2. Label Fast Food “Toxic”
  3. Cut in Half
  4. Pre/Post Sugar Exercise

 

Use one of these techniques as described below on one high-sugar food or drink you consume.  Don’t judge yourself for continuing to eat the other high-sugar foods.  Attack one food at a time.  When that’s easy you can revisit this list and select another sugary food to reduce or eliminate.

 

Replacement

Replace foods with greater than 15 g of sugar per serving using the table of ideas below.  Start with processed foods like those listed on the left.  If you feel like you’re going through sugar withdrawal when implementing this strategy, try eating 1/2 piece of fruit to replace high-sugar foods or adding milk to coffee or tea to replace high-sugar beverages.  Both fruit and milk have sugar, but the impact is less than the foods on the left due to the fiber in fruit and lower amount of sugar in milk.
 
 
High Sugar Food Lower Sugar Food
  • Soda
  • Juice
  • Sweetened Iced Tea
  • Unsweetened Iced Tea
  • Coffee
  • Water
  • Sparkling Water
  • Cakes
  • Cookies
  • Muffins
  • Cookies
  • Crackers
  • White Bread
  • Fruit
  • Peanut Butter
  • Wheat or Sourdough Bread
  • Candy
  • Jerky
  • Ice Cream
  • >15 g Sugar Yogurt
  • <15 g Sugar Yogurt
 

Label Fast Food “Toxic”

When you drive by a fast food restaurant where you might normally consume a vat of soda, picture a skull and crossbones instead of the sign.  Think of one other place you could eat at where you’d eat healthy food without sugary drinks.  Advertisements play tricks on us all the time to get us to consume unhealthy food.  Use this trick to turn the tables on food marketing and eat healthier.
 
Keep eating at the fast food restaurant as long as you like.  Don’t judge yourself.  Keep it simple.  That skull and crossbones should should work like magic in your subconscious.  It might take a few months, but over time you’ll likely choose the healthier restaurant more often.
 

This is what I see when I drive by Fast Food.

 
  

Cut in Half

Cut the amount of sugar you’re consuming in half either by cutting the amount or frequency.  We’ll focus on beverages.  

Amount

Cut the amount either through dilution or drinking less.  Dilution works better for juices.  Below is an example of cutting your OJ in half with water.  If you don’t like the way diluted OJ tastes, just drink 4 oz of OJ instead of 8 oz.
 
 
  Orange Juice Water
Current 8 oz 0 oz
Cut in Half 4 oz 0 oz or 4 oz (diluted) 
 

Two easier options to cut sugary drinks in half are to: (1) drink half your normal glass or (2) use a smaller glass.

 

The other option to reduce the amount that works better for soda is to drink less.  Instead of a 20 oz bottle, get a 12-oz can.  If you search, you can even smaller packages of some drinks.  You can also pour a glass with less than the full amount in the container and immediately pour what remains in the container down the sink.  Don’t worry about wasting this drink.  Wasting a drink is better than wasting your body.

 

  Soda
Current 20 oz
Cut (Almost) in Half 12 oz

 

For once in your life, go from right to left.

 

Frequency

  • Pick one sugary beverage you consume daily (ex. soda).
  • Write down how many times you drink it per day (ex. 2 times).
  • Divide that number in 2 (ex. 1 time).
  • Use that number as your new daily budget for that beverage.
 
You may want to combine this technique with the replacement strategy by substituting a different beverage whenever you skip the sugary beverage.  
 
You can cut the amount and frequency of eating foods in half as well.  Instead of dilution, you might cut a sugary food in half and add 1 tbsp peanut butter.  Cutting the amount and frequency are similar to the beverage examples above.  
 

Pre/Post Sugar Exercise

Before you eat that piece of cake at the work birthday party, walk or squats for 2 minutes beforehand.  Eat the cake still if you want it.  Walking and especially squats will mitigate the negative impacts from the sugar in the cake by shuttling some of that glucose directly to the muscles you just stimulated.  More importantly, over time you’re less likely to want to still eat the cake if you’ve spent two minutes beforehand mindfully considering the decision.  
 
To keep engaged socially, just talk to people instead.  If you don’t particularly enjoy the cake, practice telling yourself and others “I don’t eat cake.”  I bust out dark chocolate or good coffee instead.  If I’m going to indulge I’m at least going to pick something I enjoy deeply.
 
Check out this video for a demonstration of the Air Squat or use the pictures below.
 
 
 

Summary

Pick one of these four techniques to begin your battle with the sugar drug.

  1. Replacement
  2. Label Fast Food “Toxic”
  3. Cut in Half
  4. Pre/Post Sugar Exercise
 
 Write down your choice now.  Get to work.  Win the battle.  
 
May your choices reflect your hopes, not your fears.  – Nelson Mandela