Starting a Sugar Free New Year

Looking to improve your eating habits in 2018? You’re not alone. One of the top New Year's resolutions and goals this year is to lose weight and eat healthier. So, how can you stick with a healthy diet? Start by eliminating sugar. Going sugar free will not only help you lose weight, but can help reduce your risk of health problems, such as: type 2 diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, and dementia. How can you go sugar free? Eliminating refined sugar from your diet may seem impossible at first, but it is an achievable goal with the right amount of effort and determination. Below are seven tips to keep in mind when starting a sugar free New Year. 1. Drink Water A lot of your sugar intake can come from what you drink. Ditch the soda and start drinking water. If you need flavor in your water, use a lemon/lime wedge, cucumbers or other natural fruits. Drinking water helps maintain the balance of body fluids, keeps your skin young and healthy, and energize your muscles. Joan Koelemay, RD, dietitian for the Beverage Institute explains, “Think of water as a nutrient your body needs that is present in liquids, plain water and foods. All of these are essential daily to replace the large amounts of water lost each day.” Drinking six to eight ounces of water can also help control calories, which helps in weight loss. 2. Eat Fresh Fruit Yes, fruits contain sugar, natural sugars, that are much better for you than refined sugar or corn syrup. Fruit is a great substitute that can help eliminate your sugar cravings, especially during the beginning of your sugar free diet. Plus, plant-based foods provide dietary fiber, that is needed to improve digestive health. In addition, you can create healthy drinks, such as smoothies and juice when you incorporate natural fruits. Try to avoid dried fruits as they have a lot of sugar. 3. Eat Protein at Each Meal Eating protein is another way to eliminate your sugar cravings and reset your insulin. Luckily, you have a lot of options when it comes to protein, such as fish, chicken, beans and quinoa. A good protein goal to aim for is 75 to 125 milligrams of protein each day. 4. Don’t Buy it at the Store Nothing is worse than having sugary temptations coming from your cupboard or freezer. When grocery shopping, only buy healthy foods that contain no refined sugars. Yes, it’s true you can get your sugary foods elsewhere, but it’s more of an effort, as you’ll have to go out of your way to get ice cream or a doughnut. If you start implementing a “no buying refined sugar” rule, it will bleed into other behaviors of your life. 5. Be Smart When Eating Out Same goes when you eat out. You need to make sure what you’re eating doesn’t contain sugar. If you order a salad, be sure to check the dressing ingredients, as sugar is usually added to it. Instead, bring your own sugar free dressing. Good sugar free dishes to order when eating out include grilled meats and roasted vegetables. 6. Eat Every Four to Six Hours When taking on a sugar free diet, you are resetting your insulin levels and that could take some time getting use to. You can incorporate snacks at the beginning of your dieting journey to help ease hunger pains, but work towards a goal to eat every four to six hours. If you’re starving in-between meals, it could mean that you are not getting enough protein. Work to incorporate protein into your meals. 7. Don’t Get Discouraged If you want a sugar free diet to work for the long run, you’ll need to have the right motivation. If you slip up, don’t have a defeated attitude. Eliminating something that’s regularly part of your diet is no easy task. It takes determination and you can always restart the following day. Remember that it’s nearly impossible to eliminate all sugar together, so incorporate foods that have natural sugars to reduce your cravings. If you’re really struggling with a sugar free diet, try eliminating refined sugars for a week, then two weeks, three weeks, etc. until you’ve built enough stamina to maintain a sugar free diet. Lastly, get a friend or family member to do a sugar free diet with you. The added support can help you reach your sugar free goals. Start 2018 off right with a new diet to help your body become more healthy and energized!