As some of you may know from my monthly 7 Day Sugar Detox Challenge group, sugar is added to just about every processed food known to man. There is very little we can find that does not contain it.
The reason for this is, sugar is addictive. When we consume sugar, our brain actually creates more neurons that fire in response, causing us to want and crave more and more. This is why it is so difficult to kick the sugar habit, and also why processed food companies add sugar to their products…so we come back for more! (Can you blame them? Everyone needs to make money!)
But when it comes right down to it, food companies don’t necessarily care about our health. Some do, and there are many out there now that provide numerous sugar free, organic products without chemical fillers and other nonsense.
One of my absolute favorite food companies that I stand by is Go Raw. Their products are sugar free, raw, sprouted for optimal digestion and nutrition, vegan and delicious. You can read more about them by clicking here.
However, this is just one company. There are others as well, but you can’t find high integrity products just anywhere. Sometimes you have to search high and low, especially at times when you are not in your normal routine. For example, I find it difficult to find sugar free and just generally healthy snacks when I’m traveling (we’ve all been there!).
Here are 5 of my go-to tips for avoiding processed sugar (and other bad stuff).
1) Stay away from processed foods as much as possible. I do realize this can be difficult in cases where you are in a pinch, so just do your best. Let’s say you are traveling and you stop for gas, for example (the worst, I know). My two go-to snacks at a gas station? Bananas (yes, I’ve found bananas at gas stations many times) or some sort of sugarless drink. My fave gas station drinks include plain iced tea, Odwalla or Naked “smoothies” and coconut water. Sometimes gas stations will have a bag of yummy almonds too (which still can contain added sugar so always be cautious and read your labels). Usually I will grab one or two of the above items and allow that to tide me over until I can get to some better food options like a grocery store.
2) Prepare, prepare, prepare! I can’t stress this one enough. The more prepared you are, the easier it will be to avoid added sugar. For example, when I am getting ready to go to a party or gathering, I never really know if there will be anything there for me to eat. So I prepare by eating a small meal before I go, and I also bring a dish and/or dessert that I know I can eat. I’m not only being courteous, but prepared for whatever situation might arise. Another way to prepare would be simply to pack your own food and snacks when you know you’re going to be in a bind. I personally always bring dried fruit and nuts with me whenever I leave the house, just in case. You never know what the day might bring!
3) Mentally prepare. This is different than just plain old preparation. This is on a whole different level, and this one takes some practice. I used to get so bent out of shape when I would show up at a party or gathering, or when I was traveling, or in some other situation that made it difficult for me to avoid sugar. Now I am mentally prepped for the “anything could happen” scenarios. I know that I eat differently than the average American. So I have to remain confident in myself, confident that this is how I want to live my life and who cares what anyone else thinks. I also have to mentally prepare for a situation where I simply may not be able to eat anything…and I have to be ok with that.
4) Be a diligent label reader. Although I recommend avoiding processed foods, there are times when we need to reach for them. In my 7 Day Sugar Detox Challenge group I teach you how to read labels when shopping to avoid processed sugar. There are so many names for sugar out there, including brown rice syrup, organic cane syrup, corn syrup and numerous others. I recently read that there are 56 names for sugar out there all over labels, tricking us into thinking it’s healthy so we will buy the product. Do your research or join my group to learn how to read labels and shop smart!
5) Go easy on yourself. Although I am a believer in avoiding processed sugar at all costs, there are times when we simply can’t avoid it, or we desire a small treat. We have all been there, including me! This is real life folks, and it’s ok to treat yourself once in a while. Sometimes too much restriction ends up backfiring in the end and we end up binging or simply feeling too restricted. Give yourself some wiggle room and be easy and light with yourself. What if you had a cookie or two today? Know that it’s ok, and it’s all part of the contrast of life. It is my belief that food should be enjoyable, not a prison sentence. So if you’d like a treat now and then, give yourself the green light. Just be sure it’s all in moderation. The only exception to this is if you are on some sort of detoxification cleanse or regimen recommended by a healthcare practitioner.
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