Cutting back on sugar isn't easy when faced with constant temptation, but a few changes can make a big difference.

3 Easy Tricks to Break the Sugar Habit

If you’re like most of us, you start your day with something sweet, slip in a sugary snack or two in the afternoon, and finish the day with another treat. And when you try to bypass that plate of brownies, you fail miserably. Don’t feel bad – research shows that sugar cravings can be as powerful as any other addiction. And a lifetime of conditioning takes time to change.

But with experts warning that processed sugar ups the risk of diabetes, heart disease, and many other health conditions, this particular habit is important to break. Here are a few ways you can reduce the amount of processed sugar in your diet without too much sacrifice.

1. Eat fruit with your meal. Add cranberry jam to your turkey sandwich, toss raisins into your rice, or top grilled chicken with mango salsa. Why? Indulging your taste buds during the main course will make that cake with inch-thick frosting easier to resist at dessert time.

2. Dilute your drinks. Love your fruit juice, lemonade, or sweet tea? Substitute half with fizzy water, seltzer, or club soda, and you’ll still have a delicious drink with half the calories. Or better yet, switch to water with a slice of cucumber or citrus. 

3. Reduce simple carbs. Simple carbs — such as in white pasta, white bread, candy, soda — rapidly turn into sugar in your body. These culprits give you a quick burst of energy that flames out quickly, leaving you fatigued and craving a sugary pick-me-up all over again. Opt for protein and complex carbs instead, such as low-fat dairy products, fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Not only do these foods provide a more sustained source of energy, they keep you feeling full faster.

Try making these relatively simple dietary tweaks and you’ll find it easier to liberate yourself from the sugar craving cycle. And emerging victorious will be that much sweeter. 

Melanie Haiken writes about health, wellness and fitness for national magazines and websites. She specializes in discovering and reporting the latest research on diet, nutrition, fitness, weight loss and other health-related topics. Her award-winning stories have appeared in Fitness, Shape, Health, Forbes, and other respected magazines. She also contributes health stories to numerous Kaiser Permanente newsletters and other publications.