This 3-Week No-Sugar Challenge May Finally Help You Quit The Sweet Stuff01/22/2020
Recently, the New York Times declared that the only resolution anyone needs to make in 2020 is to quit sugar. They cited all of the research and data and listed the many ~many~ health benefits of booting the sweet stuff. What they didn’t do is serve up an actionable step-by-step plan for dealing with sugar dependence, which is really freaking hard to do.
Here’s the reality: Most Americans are addicted to sugar. Sugar is absolutely everywhere, and eating it triggers the same rewards center in the brain as cocaine, Cassie Bjork, RD, LD, owner of Healthy Simple Life, previously told Women’s Health. Which means learning how to quit sugar is easier said than done.
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That’s where Sugar Free 3 comes in. I devised this simple three-week plan to gain control of out-of-control sugar cravings and consumption—something I have struggled with myself. You can follow along with the plan in my book, or through the video series on Openfit, a new digital streaming platform.
It’s not a diet. It’s not a detox. It’s not a cleanse. And it won’t instruct you to do nutty things. It is an easy and effective way to help you eliminate added sugar—and its evil twins, refined carbs and artificial sweeteners—from your meals and snacks.
And just about everyone could benefit from consuming less sugar. The truth is, the damage sugar is doing to your body starts years—even decades—before it strikes in any conspicuous way. If you’re in your twenties and thirties, you’re likely doing harm that you may not feel until years from now. The amazing news is, you start to decrease (and even ditch) sugar with just a little ingredient education and some simple lifestyle tweaks.
Ready to quit sugar? Meet your 3-week sugar-free plan
The plan itself is pretty straightforward: Pick a start date, and commit to three weeks of a sugar-free life. To break it down for you, there are the allowed foods and the not allowed foods. Foods that are not allowed include added sugars, refined carbs, and artificial sweeteners. But to soften the blow, there’s a weekly indulgence built into the program—that means you can enjoy an item like a glass of wine or cookie three times throughout the challenge.
As far as allowed foods go, there are three categories to keep in mind:
- Totally Allowed: Veggies, healthy proteins, unsweetened flavor enhancers, water, coffee, and tea
- Allowed In Moderation: Whole-wheat and whole grains, bread, pasta, fruit, healthy fats, and dairy
- Barely Allowed: Fattier proteins, higher calorie foods like bacon, sausage, and french fries
In Sugar Free 3, I serve up more detailed guidance on the foods to eat and ones to avoid, along with tons of nutritious recipes—even ones for dessert. I also reveal the sneaky sources of sugar in our diets (like in foods we don’t consider sweet, such as pasta sauce, yogurt and salad dressing), give tips in how to spot sugar’s many aliases in food ingredient lists, give advice for crushing cravings, and offer ways to navigate eating out (and maintaining your social life!).
It may not be sugar-free…but you’re going to love watching Ariel Winter taste-test healthier candy.
I’ll be the first to admit that it’s no easy task to quit sugar for nearly a month. But here are a few tips to get you on the right track:
Opt for sweet—but sugar-free—snacks
These healthy snacks pass the Sugar Free 3 test:
- A cup of blueberries with plain Greek yogurt
- Roasted sweet potato wedges with a drizzle of coconut oil
- Sliced apple with nut butter
- Air-popped popcorn sprinkled with cinnamon
Hydrate away your sugar cravings
Sometimes (read: a lot of times, actually) thirst can masquerade as hunger or a craving. The cues are similar: You might get a headache, feel lethargic, your stomach may rumble, or you might have difficulty concentrating. A good rule of thumb: Drink half your weight in ounces every day. Up your intake with a new water bottle, drinking hot tea, or by swapping seltzer water.
Find a sugar-free buddy
I highly recommend designating someone who can support you during the next three weeks—whether that’s your significant other, co-worker, friend, or family member. In fact you should tell everyone you know that you are doing Sugar Free 3, and maybe get some friends on board to do the program, too!
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