Next, phase out rices and other starches. For example, instead of having two cups of spaghetti for dinner, try having one cup and topping it with some lean meat to complete your meal. Eventually, you could replace the pasta with a vegetable—squash is a great substitute. By making small changes as you feel ready and continuing to keep track of what you’re eating, you’ll find yourself transitioning to a new way of eating with ease.
Phase 4: Reduce Hidden Sugars
Time: 1 to 2 weeks
Why: Dressings, sauces, and condiments may seem to merely add some flavor to your food, but they often add sugars that can work against your weight-loss goals. A small amount of some condiments can add whole grams of sugar to your meal. Furthermore, we usually don’t use only one packet of sweet-and-sour sauce or ketchup; instead, we douse our food in these sugar-rich add-ons. Consequently, you might think that you’re doing all you can to reduce the amount of sugars you’re consuming, but that might not be the case if you continue to eat foods with hidden sugars.
Note that there are many foods that appear to be “diet” foods that actually might be bad to eat for your new eating plan. Many foods labeled as “diet,” “low-fat,” or “no-fat” replace the fat content with more carbohydrates. We tend to see “low-fat” and think this is a healthy option, but if “low-fat” is a synonym for “high-sugar,” then it is clearly a no-no.
There are also products on the market now that are labeled “sugar-free,” which appeal to people who are either diabetic or trying to restrict their sugar intake. Proceed cautiously with these products as well. While these products may indeed be sugar-free, they may still contain a lot of fast-metabolizing carbohydrates.
How: You may find, as you progress from one phase to the next, that reducing hidden or lesser-known sugars goes more smoothly than previous phases. This is because you’ll already have established healthy eating habits and be used to making substitutions for the foods that you used to overeat.
The goal here is to use your knowledge of nutrition labels to identify the foods that you eat which contain hidden sugars and to identify sensible replacements for them, like the ones we suggest in the next chapter.
Phase 5: Maintain Your New Way of Eating
Time: The rest of your life
Why: This is a way of eating, not a temporary diet. That means once you cut out these sugary, carb-rich foods, you’ll continue eating this way for the rest of your life. If you only eat this way temporarily and eventually go back to your old ways of eating, you can be certain that the addiction will rope you back in pretty quickly. The four phases just described lay the foundation for a healthy eating style that you can maintain forever. The key to achieving your goals lies in your knowledge of where sugars exist and what you can replace them with, and the consistent desire and dedication to follow what you know.
How: Remember, each phase takes time. Follow the allotted time guidelines—as a minimum. Be patient with yourself. If you find that one phase takes longer than what is listed or than you expected, that’s fine!
The important point is to achieve the goal of that phase, not how quickly you do it. Try to identify why certain phases are more difficult than others. This may help you to troubleshoot and figure out ways to transition through that phase that are specific to your needs. Invest the time you need; it will be well worth it in the long run.