Five Common Mistakes People Make While Trying to Kick Their Sugar Habit

Sugar has been a controversial topic for a long time. Its increased consumption is linked to a slew of diseases, with tooth decay, heart disease, obesity, and diabetes topping the list. Sugar often operates like an addictive substance and most people are stuck in a difficult-to-break reward loop. Most people consider snacking on foods with added sugars a reward out of boredom or because they can’t do without it. 

The average man is to consume only nine teaspoons/ 36 grams, and an average woman is to consume six teaspoons/ 24 grams of sugar a day, based on the American Heart Association’s recommendations. However, an average American tends to consume at least 77 grams of sugar on a daily basis. Sugars have been overlooked by most people actively avoiding unhealthy lifestyle habits. Thankfully, more people have been raising their awareness and are actively moving toward a lifestyle with a reduced sugar intake. 

But as all addictions go, breaking the sugar habit is not easy. A lot of people end up making mistakes that are easily avoidable while kicking their sugar habit. We’ve listed out five common mistakes made by most people trying to break out of their sugar-addled diet to help you in your journey towards better health. If you’ve been wondering about how to kick the sugar habit, here are the fixes you’ve been looking for: 

1. Not Accurately Categorizing Dietary Sugar

Most people trying to kick their sugar habit merely make vague statements like “I’m trying to quit sugar”, but the real question you should be asking is “What kind of sugar should I be quitting?” Most sugars available in your diet can be categorized under one simple criteria - whether they’re added or naturally occurring. Going by this, dietary sugar is of two kinds: 

  • Added sugar
  • Naturally-occurring sugar 

While you should make your best attempts to minimize artificially added sugars, you should try to include sweet foods that contain naturally occurring sugars while kicking the sugar habit. Though seemingly opposite to some of our ideas about “quitting sugar”, the first distinction we make is that not all sugars are bad.

Here’s a list of foods that contain added sugars and naturally occurring sugars to give you a better idea about what you should minimize, and what you can include.

  • Foods with added sugar: Candies, cookies, pastries, cakes, sauces, certain salad dressings, syrups, ready-to-eat meals and smoothies, cola and flavored soda, breakfast cereals to name a few.
  • Foods with naturally occurring sugars: Fruits, unprocessed fruit juices, milk, maple syrup, honey, and molasses.

Foods that have naturally occurring sugars might also have a few other health benefits. While fruit juices are rich in natural sugars, they’re also loaded with electrolytes and vitamins. Milk has some essential fats and foods like honey are great detox agents. An important health tip to keep in mind while trying to break your sugar habit would be to try to include naturally occurring sugar in your diet instead.

kicking the sugar habit

2. Not Minimizing Processed Foods & Carbohydrates

It’s important to realize carbohydrates are processed and packaged in different forms before they make their way to you. A lot of commonly consumed foods like pastas, breads, sweetened breakfast cereals, and instant oatmeal contain processed carbohydrates. 

While cutting back on sugar and trying to kick the sugar habit, keep in mind that it’s better to move away from processed foods and switch to healthier variants. Whole wheat bread, pasta and unprocessed oatmeal would be good places to begin with. You can make great progress in your diet by including whole-grain in your diet as they contain an ample amount of fiber. Fibers are complex carbohydrates that help clean out the system, retain water and also give you a feeling of fullness for a prolonged period. They also promote improved gut health and prevent common problems like constipation. 

Don’t forget that processed foods contain simple carbohydrates like starch in large amounts, and starch is broken down to conventional sugars in the body. While completely cutting out all sources of starch wouldn’t be wise, be sure to find starch in unprocessed sources. 

breaking the sugar habit

3. Trying to Completely Quit Sugar & Avoiding Cravings

A lot of people mistake breaking the sugar habit to completely quitting sugar as a dietary source. Not only is that an avoidable mistake, it’s also an unhealthy choice to make. Sugar is not as evil as it’s often made out to be. It’s just something that must be had from the right sources, in the right amounts, and at the right time. Sugar is in fact essential to several bodily and mental functions. Quitting sugar entirely while trying to kick a sugar habit might actually cause a case of serious relapse because most people don’t understand how sugar is processed by the body. 

Most people eat sugars as rewards for doing a particular activity, and the brain is wired to process it as such. You may have a candy bar after work because you feel like you’ve earned it, or you might have a habit of eating a slice of cake following dinner. It is important to break out of this reward-cycle, albeit slowly. The goal is to get your body to process sugar just as it would any other food. 

You could begin by trying to reduce your portions of sugary foods like cakes and pastries until you make them an occasional indulgence. Another important tip to kick the sugar habit is to reduce the amount of sugar you add into your beverages. If you add about two teaspoons of sugar into your morning coffee, you could begin by making it one-and-a-half and working your way from there. 

While we’re all against regular consumption of processed sugars, avoiding your cravings is a recipe for disaster. Your body is rebellious by nature and excessive avoidance might end up in failure. Make sure you do indulge in the occasional cookie or pastry, just not too frequently. 

how to kick the sugar habit

4. Not Eating Enough Proteins, Fats & Whole-Foods 

A lot of people do not stress this enough, but eating more processed and added sugars raises the appetite because they’re digested easily. But this is easily mitigated by substituting a good portion of your carbohydrates with protein and essential fats. Proteins add to overall health, aid in weight loss and also prolong the feeling satiety. A few studies have shown an increased intake of protein is directly linked to a reduction in appetite. 

Fats on the other hand are fervently avoided by many people on a diet. But there’s several reasons why we don’t think that’d be a very good decision for you. Fats have garnered a lot of disrepute over time, but some of them are essential for brain function. They’re also important catalysts for metabolic processes and are great repositories of energy. A gram of fat contains over twice the amount of energy a gram of carbohydrates does, and also add to the feeling of fullness and satiety. A great source of good fat in your diet can be nuts. You should consider snacking on nuts instead of regular snacks to better the chances of kicking the sugar habit and also promoting a healthy lifestyle. 

While you’re doing your bit to include proteins and fats, don’t forget to include whole foods. Vegetables and tubers contain a great number of essential vitamins, fibers, naturally occurring sugars and complex sugars. These foods can help with your frequent hunger pangs and also improve overall health. 

Kick Their Sugar Habit

5. Not Hydrating Enough & Timing Sugar Intake

A lot of you might be wondering what water has to do with you breaking the sugar habit. But we understand many of you out there associate thirst with a craving for sugar. Thanks to having sugary sodas and processed fruit juices, your body now craves sugar every time you feel thirsty. Start drinking a glass of water every time you begin craving a can of soda or a swig of diet coke. If this seems difficult initially, consider starting with drinking unsweetened beverages like lemonade without sugar, or just plain carbonated water without added sugar. Water is also a great detox agent, make sure you keep yourself hydrated and have a minimum of 8 glasses of water a day. Water also mitigates the lack of fluids in your body which it automatically computes as a lack of sugars.

Another important part of kicking the sugar habit is to have sugar at the right time, whenever it is that you do have sugar. The practice of eating sugary foods for snacks is extremely unhealthy and can lead to weight gain. However, mitigating your sugar cravings by coupling them with conventional meals like breakfast, lunch and dinner go a long way. If you take sugar with your coffee, try coupling it with breakfast. If you must have a piece of cake, try having a small portion of it prior to eating your actual meal at lunch or dinner. These periods have the saliva flowing in your mouth along with its enzymes, and makes way for better clearance of carbohydrates from your oral cavity. This has shown improved oral health and also reduced cravings for sugar following meals and a reduced appetite in the long run. 

Whatever method or practice you follow in kicking the sugar habit, be sure to remember that fitness and better health is a continuous process. Try not to set unrealistic goals that cause relapses following failure. It’s okay to fall off of certain diet plans and practices, but it’s important to keep trying. If you require more assistance with mitigating your sugar intake and in breaking the sugar habit, be sure to reach out to professionals. Your doctor and your nutritionist can provide precise and accurate advice meant just for you.