Okay, so we’ve covered why sugar is bad, why it is addictive, and steps you can take to change your habits and curb your addiction (which we covered in part three of our article series). In our final article, we’re going to offer up some suggestions to help you set goals for your sugar intake, and some tips and tricks you can use to reach those goals. After all, as your local dentist here in the Overland Park area, we know how damaging sugar can be for your pearly whites, as well as the rest of your health!

Reward Good Behavior

Whether you’re trying to cut sugar for yourself, or you’re trying to help a friend or loved one to cut the sweet stuff, it pays to reward good behavior. You can improve your results by setting goals, tracking your progress, and incentivizing your results.

Start With a Goal

First thing’s first, if you’re going to incentivize your low-sugar diet, you should set up a goal or series of goals. Consider tabulating up all of the sugar that you intake throughout the week, and strive to reduce that number to a healthy goal. Then you can give yourself a small incentive for hitting your weekly goals, and a big incentive for when you make it to the finish line. Or, for a different goal, you can begin cutting out specific foods or the number of times you eat a sugary snack. Hold yourself to a goal of cutting one type of candy or sweet treat per week. Or give up ice cream this month, cookies next month, sugary food products the next, and so forth. With a real, attainable goal in mind, you’ll have a clear vision of how to get from A to Z, and you’ll be able to offer yourself an incentive for each step along the way.

Keep a Daily Tally or Journal

A tally or journal is a wise choice to track your progress. Plus, a physical (or digital) record of your progress can serve as an incentivizing tool in and of itself. After all, it always feels good to check something off of a todo list, and the same holds true for tallying up your progress as you work towards your goal. Make a good habit of marking your changes day after day or week after week, to give yourself a positive boost and some encouragement along the way.

Put Those Dollars Elsewhere

Cutting sugar can be tricky for adults and kids alike, and it can be difficult to determine what incentives to put in place to make those goals appetizing. Our first idea is this: Set aside all of the money that you would otherwise spend on candy, sweets, and damaging food products that you simply don’t need. Then, use this money as your incentive. If you set aside a few hundred dollars over the course of the year, for instance, then you can plan a trip to Spain once you’ve met all your goals. If you’re attempting a smaller, shorter term goal, you can treat yourself to a ticket to a show or a football game. Get creative with your goal and customize it into something that truly inspires you to push for it!

If you’re helping your kids to cut sugar, you can set aside money on their behalf, and they can get a boost in allowance or a new video game if they reach their goals. Again, strive to set attainable goals, and ask your kiddo what they’d like as an incentive.

Don’t Sweat a Cheat Day!

As a final word of advice, we want to note that you shouldn’t worry if you happen to have a cheat day here or there. While you may have a strong will, you might find that you’ve fallen off the horse when it comes to your efforts to cut sugar. That’s okay! A little slip up here or there shouldn’t have a huge impact on your overall goal to improve your health. Just chalk the moment up as a momentary lapse in will, and move on. Get back on the horse, and continue with your healthy diet!

All the Best!

As the local dentist here in Overland Park, we wish you (and your teeth!) all the best as you strive to reduce your sugar intake and cravings. As always we’ll be here to ensure that your teeth are strong and clean with regular checkups and cleanings. Give us a call to keep that sweet tooth clean — schedule an appointment at our offices in Lenexa, Overland Park, or Peculiar!