Our modern world is saturated with all things sweet and the guilt that accompanies eating them. If you are looking for how to eat less sugar while keeping a smile on your face– this post is for you.
Do you secretly look forward to the bowls of Halloween candy or Easter chocolates scattered across the office or stowed away in your children’s pumpkins and baskets and yet… you dread it at the same time?
You love the creamy sweetness that feels like a 90-second vacation away from all life’s chaos. You vow to eat “just one piece” of your favorite chocolate, but then find yourself gobbling them all up as if you were dressed up as a Halloween gremlin yourself.
My friend, you are not alone.
Here we find a common scene that plays out in houses across America… Moms who ask Dr. Google how to eat less sugar as they battle moderation with their beloved sweets.
…if you’re addicted to sugar?
…if you’ve lost all your self-control?
…or if your kids will notice their disappearing treats.
In my life and in coaching hundreds of women, I have learned that it’s NOT about the SUGAR or the CANDY– it’s how we THINK about them.
While you may feel better avoiding some sweets as you search for how to eat less sugar, it is still very important (dare I say essential) to examine your thought process when it comes to candy, cookies, and triple chocolate brownies.
Here I will share 5 tips to help you enjoy less sugar more (catch that?) by changing the way you think about and interact with all things sweet.
5 Tips to Eat Less Sugar (With a Smile)
1. Drop the Sugar Labels
Watch out for labeling sugar as bad food or something you shouldn’t eat. As hard as it may be to believe, sugar and candy in of themselves aren’t “bad.”
Sure, sugar is MUCH less nutritious than the foods you want to eat on a daily basis. But, a piece (or pile) of candy eaten in isolation isn’t going to destroy your health. It’s repeated, unbalanced eating that leads to health problems.
It’s restricting foods that tends to lead to its overconsumption. You feel bad for eating it, chock the day up to a failure, and get your fill today because tomorrow, surely you won’t eat “it” anymore.
It’s that type of thinking that leads to eating more than we actually want to or even enjoy. Isn’t that sad?
Drop the labels and take it at face value- candy is just another type of food.
2. Remember That Sugar is Not Going Away
Remember that the sugary sweets aren’t going anywhere. And, even if you polish off every last piece of brightly colored chocolate in the house or send the remaining pieces to a faraway land– there will still be candy on every street corner.
Let that abundance speak peace to you.
If I demanded that you eat a handful of your favorite sweet every day, at every meal, eventually it would lose its allure and you’d start to eat less sugar.
It’s thoughts of deprivation that heighten certain foods in our mind. Comfort yourself with the fact that there is no shortage of candy coming anytime soon.
3. Embrace Your Freedom of Choice
Remember the freedom of choice. Even though some celebrity nutritionist says you shouldn’t eat any sugar, you are free to eat as much candy as you want.
I know, that sounds ridiculous but think about it… no one can make us stop eating candy. We are adults. We have money and cars and we can go buy more candy anytime we want.
When we take the restrictive lenses away and think about what we really want, we’re better positioned to decide what that is. It may be one piece, it may be five. But the choice– it’s up to you.
4. Drop the All-or-Nothing Sugar Thinking
Let’s say you’re learning how to eat less sugar but, “oops, you did it again…” You ate a bit more candy than you’d planned. While it does feel emotional and frustrating at the moment, watch for those negative thoughts that reprimand you for “blowing it.”
All-or-nothing eating, it does you no good.
We all eat more than we’d like from time to time. What separates those who keep moving towards their goals and those who stay stuck is the ability to compartmentalize that moment and move on.
To be honest, waiting until tomorrow to start fresh will only prolong your suffering by adding on more calories and regret. Be honest with yourself and make a new choice, at any moment.
5. Rehearse How to Eat Less Sugar
Paint a mental picture of how you’d like to see yourself enjoying sweets. For most of us, those treats would be our most favorite ones. They’d be savored and eaten with a level of consciousness not found hiding in the pantry.
Can you implement that now? You know, fake it ’til you make it?
Today that may mean going with a gentle plan of how much candy you’d like to enjoy. You’d practice really tasting sugar when you do have it, passing on those less-than-chart-topping sweets.
If you find yourself slipping back into old habits, simply refresh that mental image and hit the reset button. Take a look at the clock and give yourself a fresh start.
How to Eat Less Sugar: Get a Plan
As you can see, how we think about all things sweet can flavor our approach to them. Rather than feeling stuck in a cycle of overindulgence, consider changing up how you think about candy and treats. Then, unpack that mental baggage so that it doesn’t hinder your mindful enjoyment of them.
What To Do:
- Set a timer for 10 minutes and journal how your thinking may be hindering your efforts to eat less sugar.
- Review the 5 steps above and choose the ONE that resonates most with you.
- Write out 3 possible new thoughts you can start rehearsing today.
- Check out the Healthy Habit Goal Setting Planner. This planner will help you change your thinking and walk you through how to implement your next best steps.
Brandice Lardner is a Certified Personal Trainer, Nutrition Coach, Amazon #1 Best Selling Author, Homeschool Mom, and Jesus Girl whose mission in life is to help women ditch the diet mentality and find peace with food and their bodies so that they are better equipped to do the great things God has called them to do.
Clare Davy says
I love what you say about sugar not going away! Also, changing my mindset from thinking I can eliminate sugar a 100 percent to I WILL enjoy sugar on special occasions helps me. It also helps that we don’t celebrate Halloween so I have fewer temptations around the house. haha
Hey Clare! I’m glad you found this reassuring! It’s nice to know it’s ok so we can ditch that “get it all in now” mentality 🙂
Mitzi Baum says
I struggle so much with sugar. I have had some traumatic events happen in my family in the past 8 months, it’s been so hard to deal with. My mom was murdered on October 6th last year, and I suffer from depression and ptsd. I feel hopeless sometimes and eat honey buns like they’re going out of style. 1 if not 2 a day. I’ve gained so much weight. I’m going to join the gym soon. I just ask for your prayers please.
Hi Mitzi, Goodness, I can not imagine what you’re going through right now. Food surely has been some sort of comfort. I think it is helpful to try to take practical steps to help us with what we eat but it sounds like you need your heart to heal first. Have you spoken to a grief counselor? That may be your best first step rather than trying to fight the food. I am praying for you now, Mitzi, and wish I could give you a real hug.
I have actually been thinking about cutting back on my sugar intake. Allowing myself 6 grams at each meal. That way I pay closer attention to what I’m putting in my system.
It’s great to be mindful of our sugar intake, Rachel. Just be sure to keep it realistic and not turn even that guideline into a “diet” where you feel restricted or deprived. Rather, maybe have “fun” with it and gently observe what you’re eating now and see if you can reduce just a little bit. Choose a goal that feels doable and that gets you excited. The most important thing is to let imperfections go because we’ll never do anything perfectly– especially when it comes to eating. And, it’s not necessary (whew!).
This article is awesome. I like number 3 the best. I decided to have NO candy…..that thinking came tumbling down yesterday afternoon when I felt “deprived” and ate A LOT of something I never would have eaten…..last night I asked the Lord to show me so I can learn. He did through your article. If I had just had it be or two pieces of candy I believe the outcome would not have been bad at all. Thank you so much for this article….
Sometimes we have to be reminded one more time that a more gentle tactic may be best 🙂
Tiffany Salerno says
Thank you! This really blessed me! For me, it’s less about sugar and more about savory foods but this spoke to me regardless — especially the part about how there is no lack.
The other night, I was nervously speedily eating tons of wings plus the fish I’d ordered even though I was already full. I felt so sick afterward!
This article helped me pinpoint the thought I’d had, that if I didn’t eat it now, there would be no hot fish later. (Fish is a generally healthy food, but nothing is healthy when you’re already stuffed.) As I read your article, I realized that was a scarcity mindset that wasn’t even true.
We are staying in a house with a kitchen where I can easily heat up leftovers the next day (and knowing how I spice things, they might be even better on day two 😊).
This is an important realization because I felt so awful after that dinner — not only with my stomach ache that hurt me even as I lied in bed but also spiritually thinking, “I couldn’t stop; that is bondage!”
But the Bible says that the truth will set us free, and your article gave me truth that is giving me freedom. Thank you!
I’m so glad that you were able to see God’s grace in that struggle and use these tips to move forward!
Heidi Braman says
great article! I’ve had discussions lately with friends about sugar. They seem to think that cutting it out completely is the way to go. I know if I was to do that, I would eventually lose control and overeat it.
Thanks, Heidi! Yeah, I’ve been coaching for over a decade and have never seen anyone successfully cut out sugar, long-term, and the diet further distorted their relationship with food. I’m sure there are exceptions but that’s my experience. It’s far better to understand that sugar is not a nutritional superstar but enjoying it can be a part of a healthy lifestyle. Health is more than what we eat!