Eliminating sugar from your diet can promote weight loss, make room for more nutritious foods and lessen your risk of high blood pressure, heart disease and even diabetes. If you try to break your sugar addiction cold-turkey, though, you might end up with worse cravings, leading to an unhealthier diet. The best way to wean yourself off of sugar is a slow, natural approach that gives your body time to adjust to your healthier way of eating.
Identify Sugar Sources
When you read nutrition labels, check to see how many grams of sugar the food contains per serving. Sugary treats like soda could have as much as 47 grams per serving -- which is more than a day's worth -- but drinks like unsweetened sparkling water or tea will not have any. You can also locate sugar in the ingredient list under names like sucrose, maltose, lactose, maltodextrin, dextrose, honey, corn syrup, fruit juice concentrate and anything with sugar in the name. Use this knowledge of nutrition labels to replace high-sugar foods with better choices. For example, opt for something with 5 grams of sugar instead of 20.
Eliminate Hidden Sugar Sources
Replacing hidden sources of sugar is a good way to start weaning yourself off the sweet ingredient without noticing much of a change. Scan the ingredients in processed foods that are not notably sweet. When you locate a food or ingredient with added sugar, stop buying that product and switch to one without added sugar or one with much lower sugar. Next, replace sweetened yogurt or granola with unsweetened varieties and give your taste buds a week or two to adjust. Always look for “unsweetened” on a label instead of “sugar-free” -- sugar-free options usually contain artificial sweeteners and other added ingredients.
Replace and Eliminate Sweet Treats
Slowly eliminating sweet treats will help you get your body completely off of sugar. Start by replacing one sweet treat every day with fresh fruit. After one week, replace two sweet treats per day, and continue this pattern until all of your sweet treats have been replaced.
Fruits contain no added sugar and are much healthier than artificially sweetened foods. Harvard Health Publications notes that consuming artificial sweeteners might cause you to crave sweets even more.
Once you have replaced all of your sweet treats, start eliminating sugar that you add to your coffee, tea, cereal and other foods. Eliminate one per week until you are not adding any sugar to your foods and drinks. Your taste buds will adapt to the unsweetened foods and beverages over time.
Limit Your Sugar Intake
Once you have weaned yourself from sugar, you can safely add it back to your diet in moderation. An article from Hiram College recommends no more than 25 grams of sugar per day for women and no more than 38 grams per day for men. If you're adding sugar to your foods yourself, 25 grams is about 6 teaspoons, and 38 grams is about 9 teaspoons. This limited intake should also allow for the occasional treat such as a small slice of cake or a bowl of ice cream.