Less sugar: because I changed my diet
Like most people in Germany, I consume too much sugar. Even though I am not overweight, I have found that my sugar consumption is unhealthy. I found it difficult to control myself when I ate sugary foods, ate a lot of excess calories due to cravings, and felt a growing craving for sugary foods. I’ve always been aware that excessive sugar consumption makes you sick. In Germany, one in five people are now considered obese. One in three people already have diabetes. Too much sugar also increases the risk of heart attack, triggers inflammation in the body, makes us age faster, makes us tired, depressed and addictive. Eventually I wanted to break the sugary vicious cycle of unhealthy eating with an ever-increasing craving for sugar and decided to change my diet.
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Sugar free with online courses
However, the goal of my diet change shouldn’t explicitly be to never eat sugar again. For me, living without sugar means developing a healthy approach to sugar, reducing chronic sugar cravings, and finally being able to consciously enjoy sugar again. I also wanted my digestion to normalize and my sense of taste to sharpen. If I could have lost even a few kilograms of belly fat by giving up sugar, my sugar-free experiment would have been a complete success. To do this, I had to change my eating habits and consume much less added sugar.
Of course, I educated myself in advance about the dangers of sugar, tested alternatives to sugar in my diet, and avoided particularly unhealthy baked goods or drinks. But I also quickly realized that without professional support, my old sugary habits would be hard to break. I then searched for online courses that would give me a framework for my sugar-free diet and offer me support with expert knowledge. Among the many sugar-free courses that can be found online, I decided to finally take the sugar-free course Dr. Riedl by Eatsmarter. The course consists of eight chapters which, in addition to background and accompanying information, provide explicit instruction on how dietary change can be successful. The expert advice of Dr. Riedl is available for each chapter, live calls with nutrition experts occur at regular intervals.
Tips for beginners
The “sugar-free diet” project initially seemed like a mammoth task. With the best will in the world, I couldn’t imagine completely changing my diet, having to constantly look at the nutrition tables at the supermarket and eliminate any additional sugar from my life forever. At the beginning of my sugar-free experiment, I quickly realized that these concerns were not only unfounded, but also unrealistic. For people who want to cut down on their sugar intake, I’ve put together three helpful tips for beginners to be able to overcome the biggest initial hurdles.
1. Set realistic goals
A sugar-free diet doesn’t have to and shouldn’t mean cutting out all types of sugar altogether. The change in diet should be about a healthier life and more conscious consumption. So set goals that fit your life, your daily life, and your individual eating habits. If, like me, you eat sweets on a regular basis and find it difficult to walk past bakeries without carrying a small piece with you, the goal of completely eliminating sugar is simply unrealistic. The likelihood of your sugar-free experiment failing is therefore much greater. Set realistic goals that you can actually achieve. For example: I want to consume less additional sugar or I want to consume 50% less sugar. When setting goals, it also helps beginners formulate small sub-goals. This increases motivation and sometimes makes it easier to achieve an ambitious overall goal.
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2. Find out the current status
If you want to change your eating habits, you need concrete starting points. Beginners should therefore know exactly how much additional sugar they actually consume each day. Sugar logs help here, in which you log in detail for at least three days what you eat, how many calories you eat, and how many grams of sugar there are in the daily menu. Only with an exact value of your sugar consumption can you implement sensible changes in diet and behavior. The World Health Organization, for example, recommends consuming only between five and a maximum of ten percent of your daily calories from free sugar. If you find that you are consuming a lot more additional sugar per day, you can take targeted countermeasures and have specific figures that you can use as a guide. Of course, in this context, it is also necessary to know your individual daily energy requirement. Women use this formula to calculate their basal metabolic rate, which is the number of calories your body needs to perform bodily functions when it is at rest:
655.1 + (9.6 x body weight in kilograms) + (1.8 x height in centimeters) – (4.7 x age in years)
For men, this formula applies to calculate the basal metabolic rate:
66.47 + (13.7 x body weight in kilograms) + (5 x height in centimeters) – (4.7 x age in years)
The individual basal metabolic rate must now be added up with a performance multiplier. Depending on how hard you train and how often you train, multiply your basal metabolic rate by that
- Factor 1.2 (elderly and frail people)
- Factor 1.45 (very sedentary people, office workers)
- Factor 1.65 (sedentary people with occasional exercise)
- Factor 1.85 (mainly walking and standing activities)
- Factor 2.2 (people who work hard physically and are very active)
Only when you know your current status can you set and pursue realistic goals. Beginners on the road to a sugar-free diet create the foundation for the desired change in diet by calculating and recording the current state.
3. Plan for nutritional errors and relapses
Diet changes are always difficult. Eating behavior and cravings for sugar, including the release of reward and happiness hormones, have developed over a long period of time and cannot be completely changed overnight. At the beginning of the “sugar-free diet” project, beginners should already be aware that nutritional setbacks or errors can occur. Before I even started my first sugar-free day, I realized that mistakes and relapses were going to be part of the transition process. A change of diet does not fail because you eat a chocolate bar or a piece of cake. As long as eating habits change positively in the medium to long term and the bottom line is a healthier life through less sugar consumption, baby steps backwards and sugary slips are fine.
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