by Jacquelyn J. Core JD PhD

Detoxing from sugar can make you look and feel better, with substantial benefits to your long-term health. Detox might seem like a harsh word, but did you know that your body reacts to sugar like a drug? Here’s how you can kick the sugar habit for good.

The Sugar Scavenger Hunt

Sugar is definitely in more foods than you know. Everything from soup to nuts has added sugar. Condiments are one of the worst traps for both salt and sugar. So while you might realize that your sugary cereal has high sugar, your might not realize that your salad dressing has it. Read labels. Remember to look for sugar in all its various forms on the ingredient list (fructose, corn syrup, sucralose, cane sugar) and look for total grams of sugar as well. Becoming more informed is the best way to start to reduce sugar.

Fat Free is Sugar Full

Remember that fat is flavor. We all love the rich taste of butter because of its fat content. When you remove the fat from food it tastes… well… like cardboard. So when food manufacturers take out the flavor of the fat, they often replace it with sugar to sweeten the deal. Remember, though, that it is not always fat that makes you fat. In fact, some fats, like those found in nuts, avocado, and salmon, are even considered healthy fats. If you want an easy comparison look at the sugar content in regular fat and fat free yogurt, and you will see sugar replacing fat. If you know that reduced fat and fat free equals sugar full you can be more aware of the impact of your choices, making sure that your attempt to be healthier does not backfire.

Recognize Times When you Eat Sugar

For some of us certain times trigger sugar. It’s Girl Scout cooking time right now… anyone else resisting the urge to consume too many Tagalongs? Whether it is fundraisers or movie theatre candy, if you know when you usually succumb to sugar you can take steps to guard against it. Cultivating an attitude of mindfulness and really thinking about every piece of food you put in your mouth can make a surprising difference.

Prep Healthy

Many of us reach for sugar because it is easy. If you want to reduce your sugar intake then prep healthy snacks. Whether you store them in snack size portions or just have them ready to grab out of the fridge, having something healthy at hand will reduce the likelihood of grabbing a sweet treat. When I get home from the market each week I try to take the time to prep food so that it is ready to eat. Wash fresh fruits and veggies, cut things up into edible portions; even repackage if it helps you.

Find your Energy Elsewhere

Sometimes we reach for chocolate when the day has gone south, or we seek comfort in cake. If you are fighting your three o’clock energy downturn, try a brisk walk, even if it’s just to the copier or to the bathroom and back. Stand up from your seat if you work at one, get off the couch if you are at home, or take a rest stop if you are driving. Even brief exercise gets the heart pumping which gives us the needed energy to continue with the task at hand.

By slowly replacing your sweets with healthier choices you can make sustainable changes that reduce your sugar intake and reduce your dependence on sugar. Remember that sometimes slow, incremental changes are the way to go.