Once you know how much sugar you’re really eating, you can control your intake. Here are the pros’ tips for cracking down on the most seductive tabletop substance known to man:
Eat breakfast. “Ninety percent of sugar addicts skip breakfast,” says Kathleen DesMaisons, Ph.D., author of Potatoes Not Prozac. “They wait and get a big hit of sugar at 10 a.m.” When you eat breakfast, you prevent the drop in blood sugar that makes you crave sugar later.
Pick fruit. Satisfy your sweet tooth with apples, bananas, and berries, which temper natural sugar with fiber and loads of antioxidants, says Elisa Zied, M.S., R.D., a spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association and the author of Feed Your Family Right! Dried fruit and 100 percent fruit juices will also do in a pinch, but they don’t have nearly as much fiber and are more concentrated sources of calories, Zied says, so limit yourself to a quarter cup or less of dried fruit or one cup of 100 percent juice a day.
Think 100. When you simply must have a cupcake or a candy bar, stick to 100- to 150-calorie portions and 16 grams of sugar or less. Check out the Best Supermarket Foods for Women, to keep your fitness goals.
Indulge right after dinner. Late-night ice cream fixes give you a pure, unadulterated sugar rush. Have a small scoop soon after dinner instead and you’ll reduce (though not counter) the insulin-spiking effect, DesMaisons says.
Cut out “overt” sugars. Tackle the worst offenders first: sucrose-laden treats like candy, frappuccinos, ice cream, and soft drinks. If you drink a soda every day, try having one every other day, then once a week, then not at all.
Enter sugar rehab. Like any addict, you need to detox before you can fully recover. According to DesMaisons, it takes five days to fully overcome your cravings for sugar, and you’ll feel awful for three of them. Prepare to be edgy and irritable starting on day two; by day five, you’ll feel like a whole new person. After you’ve recovered, you’ll find that a little sugar goes a much longer way.