HOW TO ELIMINATE SUGAR FROM YOUR DIET IN 21 DAYS
Mounting research shows that going overboard on sugar can lead to high cholesterol and blood pressure and a greater risk of cancer, diabetes, and heart disease, not to mention excess weight gain. But there’s a
Week 1 to-do list:
Clean house: The more sugar you have, the more you crave it, says Mark Gold, MD, a professor at the University of Florida College of Medicine. Sleuth out and avoid common culprits.
Learn sugar lingo: Sound the alarm when you spot cane, syrup, nectar, words ending in “-ose,” agave, and fruit juice concentrate in ingredient lists. Dining out? Skip glazed, honey-dipped, sticky, and BBQ options.
Purge the pantry: Throw out sugary packaged food and drinks. When in doubt, check the ingredients rather than the sugar grams; nutrition labels don’t yet specify how much of a product’s sugar is added versus natural.
Sticker sweeteners: Put a Post-it on items like honey and brown sugar to act as a caution sign when you open the cabinet.
Have a backup plan: Stash an emergency snack (like a banana or low-sugar Kind bar) in your bag, advises David Katz, MD, director of the Yale-Griffin
Prevention Research Center.
Week 2 to-do list:
Start slashing: Retrain your palate by making incremental changes. “You can lower your taste for sweetness in two weeks,” says Dr. Katz.
Measure carefully: Scoop the sweetener you think you need—then put back half. “Half a teaspoon goes a long way,” says Sally Kuzemchak, RD.
Mix it up: Combine no-sugar-added foods with the sweet versions (think ½ cup of plain, unsweetened almond milk with ½ cup of vanilla).
Drink only water: For a full week, down H20 instead of sodas (including diet kinds) and fruit juices.
Week 3 to-do list:
Plan long-term: You’ve upped your sugar IQ and neutralized your sweet tooth. “After about three months, this diet overhaul will be the new familiar,” says Dr. Katz.
Eat dessert: Going cold turkey can cause headaches and cravings for some—so have a well-portioned treat if you want it.
Increase healthy fat: Add a “good” fat—avocado, olive oil—to every meal, urges Mark Hyman, MD, director of the Cleveland Clinic’s Center for Functional Medicine: “Healthy fats shut off receptors in your brain that stimulate sweetness cravings.”
Stick to a schedule: Aim to eat your meals and snacks at the same time each day. “Having a routine keeps you from getting caught off guard by hunger and giving in to something that comes in a wrapper,” says Maria Rodriguez, RD, program manager of the Diabetes Alliance at the Mount Sinai Health System.
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