Quitting Sugar by Registered Dietician Linda Illingworth
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Quitting Sugar by Registered Dietician Linda Illingworth, RDN CSSD

Sugar is quite possibly the most inflammatory food molecule we consume today. Sugar has been linked to premature aging, inflammatory molecules that fuel cancer cells, and obesity. If you’ve been to The Ranch, you’ve learned to last a week with very little sugar. If not, here’s how you can learn to live without it, or at least with a lot less.

1. Stop drinking soda and don’t replace it with diet soda.

It’s time to start drinking more water. Water helps keep your blood diluted, flushes out metabolic waste products and toxins, and keeps cells hydrated so they can operate efficiently. Water is what you were born to drink. Water is what you liked before you were exposed to marketing, poor food choices, and a life taught you otherwise.

2. Stop eating sweets.

Ideally, we would never eat any added sugar again. But life will frequently offer it so it’s best to have a plan. Limit sweet treats to no more than twice a week. Before you groan, please understand that this isn’t deprivation. You’re can plan what and when you are going to consume. Pick two days of the week that you want to enjoy your treats. Choose something that gives you the most joy–don’t waste sugar consumption on something you don’t truly love. And be mindful of portion size. One half to one cup or about 200 calories from a sweet treat is a good limit. This project is about learning to live with less and be satisfied.


3. Stop stressing about fruit.

Learning to rely on Mother Nature’s definition of sweet is a great steppingstone into a sugar-free life. Sugar causes the most damage when added by manufacturers to soups, condiments and, well, everything, or in sweetened coffee beverages, desserts, or that we add to foods we consume. Mother Nature packages sugar in context. She combines this fuel with multiple nutrients, beneficial fibers, and antioxidants. When you hear people say they don’t eat oranges because they’re full of sugar, consider that a skinny caramel latte contains 120 calories and 8 grams of added sugar and sucralose (artificial sweetener), while oranges offer 60 calories, 0 grams added sugar and nothing artificial. There are 15 grams of natural sugar in the form of fructose in an orange, which also supplies 60 mg of Vitamin C, bioflavonoids that fight disease, and fiber that nourishes your gut bacteria.

This doesn’t mean you can eat Carmen Miranda’s hat daily! Keep it to two to three servings of fruit daily for an appropriate amount of this quick burning fuel.

4. Stop listening to extreme advice.

While the bad news you hear about sugar is mostly true, there is room to enjoy some of the wonderful concoctions on this planet. But for every few grams of added sugar you eat, there are usually 30 minutes (or more) of exercise lacking in your life. Remember that sugars as a class of nutrients are fuel, and if you aren’t using the fuel you consume that’s a big problem whether it’s from sugar, fat or to a lesser extent protein.

Already took these steps? Great! See below for fine tuning your sugar intake.

Read the labels in your fridge and pantry.

Toss out any products that contain sugar or that simply shouldn’t:

  • Salad dressing
  • Yogurt
  • Pasta sauce
  • Soups
  • Broths—yes broth
  • Packaged mixes: rice, pasta, soup, and seasonings
  • Cereals with more than 2-5 g sugar per 1 cup serving
  • Crackers
  • Frozen meals
  • Frozen waffles, french toast, and pancakes
  • Anything else you find that is not a sweet treat

Sweet treats: either toss them out or severely limit them. If it’s around, your brain will suggest you eat it.

  • Keep honey and 100% fruit spreads, toss jelly, jams, preserves–unless they’re homemade with love
  • Granulated sugar—toss it, you can keep raw sugar, coconut sugar, organic sugar (for judicial use)
  • Stevia—keep it
  • Soda, toss is—only keep stevia sweetened or sparkling waters (no artificial sweeteners)
  • Cookies–toss them
  • Ice cream–toss it, replace with one pint of your favorite flavor preferably non-dairy and lower in sugar–may have in 1/2 cup portion twice a week
  • Dark chocolate–keep it! 72% or darker cacao is lower in sugar/higher in flavanols
  • Caramelized nuts–toss them
  • Baking mixes, keep them if they don’t contain added sugars
  • Cake/cookie mixes–toss them
  • Candy–toss it, even if it’s made with natural sugars

Hidden simple carb and might as well be sugar–toss it:

  • Veggies sticks–rice flour with veggie powders
  • Potato chips–root chips may be kept
  • Crackers made with refined flours (white stuff and orange stuff too)
  • Cereals containing refined flours, even if they boast “whole grain”
  • Cereal bars
  • Protein bars with added sugars or artificial sugars or excessive dates

Tell us what you found in your pantry or fridge that you tossed!

Linda Illingworth sugar free dietLinda Illingworth, RDN, CSSD, is the Registered Dietitian at Lifewellness Institute, a medical practice specializing in wellness, where she provides clinical care and nutritional guidance for patients and corporate clients. An expert in functional nutrition, Linda is known for her practical advice to find the best nutritional path to achieve specific health goals.  As a certified specialist in Sports Nutrition, Linda also has specialized training in food sensitivities, supplementation, wellness, thyroid and cardiovascular nutrition.  Linda holds a B.S. in Nutrition from California State University Long Beach and completed her dietetic internship at St. Luke’s Hospital, Wisconsin. Her special interest in nutrition and wellness began in college with her father’s death, the result of cardiovascular disease and thus created a life-long desire to learn. Linda is frequently consulted for her depth and breadth of nutritional knowledge, has developed nutrition curriculum for popular destination health spas, National University, consults for non-profit nutrition programs, and can be found in print and online media.

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