Sugar is everywhere these days. Food producers love to add it just about every product they can, and honestly who can blame them? Sugar’s dead cheap and we love it so much that it guarantees we buy their products.
First you’ve got soft drinks, sports drinks, candy bars, and cakes: they are all the obvious sources. But there’s also sugar in a variety of unexpected foods like breaded meat, “healthy cereals”, bread, fruit juice, and many more.
Thanks to this onslaught of sugar, the average person eats far more than they used to and thanks to this, conditions like diabetes and inflammation are more prevalent than ever before.
All this sugar is massively disrupting your acne efforts as well, and this big increase in sugar is one of the main reasons why the average teenager’s skin has got so much spottier. If you eat a lot of processed foods you could be getting four times as much sugar as you believed previously.
Fortunately this does NOT have to happen to you. Sugar might be everywhere but avoiding it is a piece of cake if you’ve got the right strategies.
There are a lot of unexpected places in which it pops up, so in order for you to be in full control of your sugar intake, please read this guide on how to fully avoid it.
Step 1 – avoid all the classic sources
You need to avoid all the foods that you deliberately go for when you want a sugary food. This includes the obvious sources like cakes, biscuits, milk or white chocolate, and any other food that is traditionally called a sweet treat.
Having those foods occasionally will not kill you but don’t make them a regular part of your diet. There’s so much sugar elsewhere that you don’t want to skip what is by far the easiest way to reduce it.
Plus if you reduce these sugary junk foods, you will have more wiggle room in your sugar budget to eat fruits, which do contain sugar but also contain plenty of acne nutrients and antioxidants. If you ever get sugar cravings then fruit is a much better option than cake.
Step 2 – ditch the fruit juice
It does have decent amounts of vitamins, particularly vitamin C, but the amounts of sugar are insanely high.
The problem is that it takes a lot of fruit to make one serving of juice; for example, a glass of orange juice contains several oranges and therefore contains a lot more sugar than a single orange.
Many fruit juices even contain added sugar, which makes the problem even worse. Whole fruit contains plenty of sugar, but it is not as harmful because it is bound up in the fiber, which allows your body to absorb it at a slower rate.
When fruit is juiced this fiber is obliterated and there is nothing to slow down the absorption. Overall there is no reason to drink fruit juice at all; you can get the acne nutrients from whole fruit. If you want to drink it then pick a version with no added sugar.
Note: pomegranate juice has been shown to be the healthiest of them all. It is very rich in acne-clearing antioxidants, so if you have to drink one fruit juice, make it this.
Step 3 – memorise these names for sugar
Sugar is such a vast behemoth of an industry that there are dozens of names for it. If you just look for sugar on the label then you’re bound to get caught out. Typically anything that ends with –ose is a form of sugar, but there are numerous other names that sound nothing like sugar and can catch you off guard.
Therefore if you ever eat processed food, check the ingredients label for the following words.
-Dextrin and maltodextrin.
-Cane ingredients such as cane crystals and cane juice.
-Words with syrup in the name.
Step 4 – say no to low fat dairy
The problem is that when you remove fat from a food, it tastes like cardboard; the fat content is what makes natural dairy taste so good. To keep consumers on board food producers add vast quantities of sugar.
Low fat yoghurts are particularly notorious for this phenomenon. Even if sugar is not added, then the process of removing the fat makes the sugar content higher anyway; for example, a typical 150g pot of natural full fat yoghurt contains 10 grams of sugar, whereas a low fat one contains 13.
So if you eat dairy products, always eat the full fat version. Fat doesn’t actually make you fat and doesn’t cause any other problems either. If you adore the taste of low fat yoghurt compared to the full fat version, then at least find a natural brand that has no added sugar.
Step 5 – eat real food
The truth is that sugar has such a stranglehold over the food industry that if you eat any processed foods, you will inevitably get more than you expect. Meat is one of the classic sugar free foods, but 100g of breaded fish will often contain a gram of added sugar.
That’s not a lot at all but other foods are likely to have more, and when you add up all the processed foods you eat in a day they’ll add significantly to your daily totals. There’s sugar lurking in all sorts of unexpected places, like steak sauce, the supposedly healthy variety of breakfast cereals, pre-cooked chicken legs, sausages, and even bacon.
Luckily there’s an easy solution: remove processed foods altogether. If you eat real foods like fresh meat and vegetables, then you know exactly what you’re eating and you can eat sugar when you decide to. You could just look at the ingredients label, but there are so many alternative names for sugar that only a superhuman wouldn’t slip up eventually.
By removing processed foods you will save a lot of inconvenience, eliminate a lot of sugar, and eat a lot of food that is tastier than before anyway.
Step 6 – avoid high fructose corn syrup
This is really another type of sugar, but it is so common and deadly that it deserves its own special mention. High fructose corn syrup is derived from corn, as you would expect, and the corn industry usually argues that it is identical to sugar…
…but it is actually far higher in fructose, the type of sugar which is particularly bad for insulin resistance and hence acne. Table sugar contains sugar in a roughly equal split between glucose and fructose, while HFCS contains up to 70% fructose. It isn’t called high fructose corn syrup for nothing.
High fructose corn syrup is an extremely common ingredient in US processed food because corn is extremely cheap; this means that the syrup is also extremely cheap to produce and food producers can save a lot of money by using it. You can find it in almost every type of processed food, ranging from sports drinks to whole-wheat bread.
The good news is that the public has recently caught on to the danger of this deadly syrup, and consequently a vast swathe of producers are removing it. It’s also lucky that there aren’t as many alternative names for it as other sugars; it is usually either called high fructose corn syrup or just plain “corn syrup”.
Therefore if you are buying processed food, always check the ingredients for those names. As far as sugars go you would be far better of eating regular sugar, as the amount of fructose is so much lower.
Step 7 – control your sugar addiction
Sugar is eight times as addictive as cocaine and this a major reason why we eat vast quantities of it. You might not like the idea of being addicted to something but in this case it does not actually matter. Unlike with cocaine, one single dose of sugar will not kill you, the problems only begin when the addiction causes you to eat vast amounts.
Therefore it is actually not necessary to beat your sugar addiction at all. All you have to do is work your way down to a low consumption of sugar where you don’t get cravings. This might be hard if you previously had a very high intake of sugar, particularly if you slash it very fast.
If you do get very strong cravings at the beginning of your low sugar days then fortunately there is an easy solution: keep an emergency banana on standby. If you suddenly get a sugar craving then you can eat this banana, your sugar craving will be satisfied, and you will have saved your skin from a much worse food like cake or candy. Naturally, this strategy can be implemented with any other acne-friendly fruit; watermelon, oranges, apples, pomegranate, strawberries, or blueberries.
If you still get sugar cravings then you’ll have to use some good old-fashioned willpower, but the cravings will subside within a few weeks or even days.
Step 8 – find some healthy sugar
Most of us are actually addicted to sugar and it would be impossible to cut it out completely. Therefore you need to keep some of the acne-friendly sugary foods on standby and some of the best examples are dark chocolate and fruits.
Chocolate has a reputation for causing acne, and while it isn’t the worst food for your skin it does have some problems; it is often very high in sugar and loaded with added ingredients. But dark chocolate doesn’t have those problems.
Firstly, it is very low in sugar, with one serving of 85% dark chocolate only containing 2.5 grams. Secondly, it has very few unhealthy additives. And thirdly, it has a ton of other health benefits that neutralise what little effect the sugar has. Dark chocolate is full of nutrients like magnesium, and is loaded with antioxidants like flavonoids. Dark chocolate provides just as many antioxidants as most fruits and vegetables and is therefore one of the best bets for a healthy source of sugar.
Remember that your chocolate has to have a high cocoa percentage; some brands will call their chocolate dark when it only contains 50% cocoa, which is ridiculous. All of the health benefits are in the cocoa and for that reason the cocoa content should be at least 85%. The 90% bars are too bitter, so 85% is the sweet spot between health and taste. Remember: chocolate is not the acne-causing supervillain that the legends make it out to be.
As for fruit, almost all of them are healthy to some degree, but some are a lot better for acne than others. What’s most important is that some have a lot more sugar than others. One apple contains roughly 12 grams of sugar whereas 100 grams of strawberries contains less than 5.
Therefore you need to organise your intake of fruits so that you both get the health benefits and prevent your sugar from adding up too much. One strategy you could use is to eat two servings of low sugar fruits per day and one high sugar fruit every couple of days; this would mean an apricot and a handful of strawberries every day, and possible a banana every other day.
Also remember that the amount of sugar in a fruit is far less harmful than the amount in a cake, as in fruit the sugar is bound up in fiber which slows the absorption. Therefore you shouldn’t eat too much fruit, but it’s fine if you sometimes eat more than you usually would. We also discussed fruits and sugar in this article.
If you want a sweetener for a special treat, such as for sweetening tea or coffee, then in this article we discussed famous sweeteners and their safety for acne. In short, the best sweetener available is raw honey, and my recommended product is this 22oz Y.S. Eco Bee Farms Raw Honey.
Follow those steps and vastly reducing your sugar intake will be easy. The best part is that you will also be in control of your sugar intake; you will know exactly how much you eat and whether you have a day of indulgence is entirely up to you. You won’t unknowingly eat massive amounts of sugar from processed food.
Finally, here’s a list of foods that you would never expect to contain sugar…
-Cereal bars and so-called health bars.
-Ketchup, and other types of tomato sauce.
-“Healthy” breakfast cereals.
-Many fast foods.
-Protein bars, protein shakes and protein powders (especially flavoured ones).
-Sauces like steak sauce and barbecue sauce.
-Many types of pie.
-Breaded fish and meat.
I will say “good luck” but you’ve now got so many strategies to implement that you don’t need it one bit.
Thanks for reading!