Growing up in an Italian household I was taught to eat everything on my plate at a very young age. My mom made homemade meals everyday. In fact, all meals were always eaten at the table with my entire family, it was our family bonding time. My mom didn’t believe in restrictions; however, the only thing we were not able to eat was sugar. Sugar was a staple product in our pantry however it was only used for special occasions. 

I never believed in cutting sugar or food completely out of my diet. I enjoy food too much to enforce restrictions. In fact, the more I feel restricted the more I rebel and its the same when it comes to food. 

As a health coach, the first thing I teach my clients is to create a healthy lifestyle. That’s right, I said a lifestyle, not diet. I think what we need to do is stop telling ourselves that we are “going on a diet” but rather help ourselves understand the importance of creating a long last healthy relationship with food.

Secondly, I work with clients to understand how stress affects them. We are all affected by stress differently. I realized after all my hardships that I am an emotional eater and when under extreme amounts of stress, I seek comfort in food. Once I became aware that I was actually doing this I was able to change and develop tools to cope.

If you are an emotional eater, then you need to go within yourself and take time to become aware of and understand your triggers, only then you can learn how to control them. Once you do, you will be able to still enjoy your favorite treats in moderation. If you don’t feel you can do this on your own, work with a certified health coach could make a world of a difference.

The key is portion control, not restriction or elimination. It’s about eating foods that nourish your body—which in fact will help you crave less sugar. A craving towards sugar is your body telling you its missing something maybe you are lacking certain vitamins. From an emotional standpoint, we are searching for a quick fix, but often after we have it, we end up feeling guilty or not well.

Today I look at my meals in a mindful way, I called it mindful eating. Each person’s body is unique, we all react differently to foods and so our lifestyle should focus on eating foods that give us energy rather than take it away. Having excessive” amounts of sugar can cause negative effects on our bodies such as Type 2 diabetes, obesity, hypertension, cholesterol, allergies, tooth decay, and cardiovascular disease.

This is why it’s important to understand how sugar reacts in our bodies and become aware and mindful of eating foods that nourish and provide us energy in healthy ways.

Understanding the difference between simple and complex carbohydrates’ can go a long way in mindful eating. For instance, simple carbohydrates are digested and absorbed quickly and they provide a quick burst of energy followed by a crash.

Complex carbohydrates, on the other hand, are sugars that take the body longer to breakdown and are packed with vitamins, minerals, and fiber.  Some examples of complex carbohydrates are millet, quinoa, brown rice, and veggies. These are great because they do not spike your blood sugar levels quite so drastically as simple carbohydrates and help provide you the energy to sustain throughout the day.

Here are 3 quick tips for eating sugar in a healthier way:

1. Eat more fruits and vegetables containing natural sugar throughout the day this will help control your sugar cravings. Fruits that are naturally lower in sugar are raspberries, strawberries, blackberries, kiwi, grapefruit, watermelon, oranges, peaches, and cantaloupe.

2. Switch soda for filtered water—get a little crazy, add raspberries, lemon or any fruit if you desire this will help you boost your metabolism. Tip: Try drinking a cup of lemon water on an empty stomach in the morning help flush toxins and boost your metabolism.

3. Switch from processed sugar to natural sugars and use organic honey, organic maple syrup brown sugar or coconut sugar. If this change is too drastic, I recommend cutting down first, so if you use usually use two sugars then move to use only one at first to slowly ween yourself away from it. And you should stay away from any artificial sweeteners.

If you want a fun and easy way to explain sugar to your children considering purchasing my book called “Mommy, Can I Eat This?” I wrote it to help parents and children understand the importance of watching your daily intake of sugar.