Let’s pretend for a moment that sugar is good for you–loaded with vitamins, minerals, essential amino acids and everything healthful. A tall icy glass of cola with every meal (or orange juice if you prefer–they have about the same amount of sugar). Syrup drenching your french toast and sausage for breakfast. Luscious ice cream sandwiches for lunch. An evening repast of tender honey baked ham and maple glazed carrots. And don’t forget a hot fudge sundae for dessert.
Enjoying the visual? Salivating? Good. Because imagining that you are devouring all that sugar can actually reduce how much of it you consume.
Believe it or not, you can fool yourself into eating less of the foods you shouldn’t be eating. It’s called habituation. Thinking about your cravings can actually decrease your desire for them. It sounds counterintuitive, but it works. Check out more about the study here.
I’m speaking from personal experience. Taking that pretend bite, chewing and tasting it (in my imagination) helps me say no thanks to the real thing. Imagining can make a pretty good substitute for the actual experience.
At this point I know I need to limit my sugar intake. And I need to help Sam be mindful of his. The American Heart Association guidelines for added sugars were specific. With only 6 to 9 teaspoonfuls of added sugar a day (and less for younger children), we have to be selective about when and where we’re going to consume them.
Here are 3 more ways we’re minimizing sugar consumption in our household:
- Drink water. Or natural seltzer. Add a lemon slice or some mint leaves for interest. Cut the soda from your diet. Number one way to reduce sugar.
- Eat fruit. When you need a snack, grab an apple. Pack fruit in your child’s lunch instead of cookies. Dried fruit (in small quantity) makes a great after dinner treat. I love a piece of mango or papaya.
- Put the sugar bowl away. Stop adding sugar to foods by the teaspoonful. Squeeze lemon into your tea. Add sliced banana to cereal. Spices like cinnamon also help food taste sweeter.
What do you do to hold back the sugar tidal wave at your house?