I have been on a low-sugar diet for health reasons for several months now. One of the things that I have learned is that it is not a quick fix! It is not an easy lifestyle, and the decision to go sugar free can be quite daunting.
Sugar comes in many forms and that’s what makes it hard when you are trying to remove it from your diet. You not only have to be aware of the 56 names of sugar, but you also need to be aware of those highly processed foods that are made from white flour and enriched whole wheat that quickly turn to sugar and cause you to crave more of the white stuff.
Sugar and AGE-ing
Last month you learned about AGE’s and how those sugar proteins prevent nutrients from exiting the blood stream and end up causing inflammation. In many people over time, this begins a process called insulin resistance. Insulin resistance ultimately leads to full blown diabetes or other health related issues.
Our modern food system is set up around sugar, and seduces us all along the way because we have become emotionally and physically attached to those foods with sugar or those that quickly turn to sugar. These are known as the “feel good foods.” Learning the difference between enhancing and depleting options takes time and energy.
A granola bar, which I once thought was a “healthy food,” can actually have more sugar in it, or ingredients that quickly turn to sugar, than a piece of dark chocolate.
The Crave for Sugar
Cravings are the first sign of the sugar problem. Cravings are your body’s way of trying to convince you that you need sugar. Depending on the kind of lifestyle you lead, you might know what those hidden sources are OR you might not. I guarantee that your body knows what will satisfy and you will begin “thinking” about those foods that will “satisfy” that craving. This is the hardest part of getting through a detox, recognizing the thought and then consciously making a different choice. In addition to the thought is the “side-effect” you get as you begin detoxing. These symptoms can include:
- Body aches and pains
- Feeling cold
- Sleep interruptions
- Overwhelming cravings that continue
Here are my top 10 tips to bust the sugar crave:
- Eating more clean protein and healthy fat. When your self-talk starts suggesting that candy bar, or extra sandwich with enriched whole wheat bread, squash the crave with a protein shake, avocado, or a piece of full fat cheese like swiss cheese (its low-glycemic).
- Snacking on sweet vegetables like carrots, red peppers or a vegetable like celery with a tablespoon of almond butter, without added sugar, can also solve the sweet spot fix.
- Drinking a hot cup of Turmeric-Ginger Tea can also put the cravings to a halt. Turmeric is an herb used in detoxification. I use the “Rishi” brand. It is caffeine-free and an organic herbal mix. (rishi-tea.com)
- Eating 12 nuts can curb the crave. Your best nuts are almonds, walnuts, and pecans. These are the lowest nuts on the glycemic index and have the lowest load level. If you can find them in the “sprouted” form, they are even better. They act like a double-protein and are quickly digested.
- Choosing fruits that are low on the glycemic index should be a daily part of a well-balanced lifestyle. They include: Green Apples, Pears, Strawberries, Blueberries, Raspberries and Blackberries. These fruits have the lowest load, which means that they digest slower due to high amounts of fiber and low amounts of sugar, keeping your blood sugar in the safe zone.
- Taking a multi-vitamin that is well-balanced (complete, absorbent, potent, pure, and safe) and pharmaceutical grade will curb cravings as well. Many foods are nutrient deficient–hence the cravings!
- Chromium and Magnesium are musts in your multivitamin. Chromium helps to regulate blood sugar levels and ease cravings, which often occur when your blood sugar crashes. Magnesium is an essential mineral as it is used in over 300 systems of your body and is depleted quickly by stress. It regulates blood sugar and should be part of a daily supplementation routine. These two power-houses will ease the sugar cravings, stabilize your mood and emotions and help you cope with your detox. They should be part of your multivitamin, and in some cases you may want to add extra supplementation to your protocol.
- Taking probiotics that have the right strain of Lactobacillus rhamnosus LGG@ and Bifidobacterium BB-12@ and at least 10 billion of the active ingredient are essential as well. Probiotics benefit the digestive system and help to regulate the balance of the beneficial and potentially harmful bacteria as well as playing a roll in sustaining healthy immune function. More immune cells are concentrated in the gut than in any other region of the body. Probiotics may help to prevent harmful bacteria from taking hold in the intestinal tract and encourage the growth of healthy bacteria keeping the crave, of sugar, to a minimum.
- Avoid replacing sugar with artificial sweeteners hoping to curb your cravings, research has not shown this to be the case, in fact, the opposite has been proven. Not only does it keep you craving sugar but, the side effects of the artificial sweeteners can cause a myriad of health related issues. Instead, it is far better to use smaller amounts of whole food sweeteners such as honey or stevia.
- My last suggestion might be strange to some but it does send a message to your brain. Brush your teeth! This message tells your brain that you are done eating and will distract you from the ongoing cravings that you might be sensing. If you are out and can’t brush your teeth, you can chew a piece of gum that is sweetened with stevia. My favorite brand is B-Fresh Gum (bfreshgum.com). It is sweetened with 100% xylitol which is a low-glycemic sugar similar to stevia and is recommended by dentists because it naturally alters the pH in your mouth so that it fights bacteria that causes tooth decay, plaque and bad breath.
Habit changes are hard to break, but if you start slow and progress by making these simple small alterations, week by week you will soon begin to see changes.
Reducing sugar is possible and needs to be a consistent habit of new choices. Taking one of the tips and introducing it each week for 10 weeks, will enable you to accumulate a great start in your “Sugarless Lifestyle!”
Written by Judi Moore, Certified Health Coach, AADP
Having a unique background in fitness and nutrition as well as personal experience with a life threatening illness, I offer hope and encouragement to those who don’t know where to start when trying to regain or boost their health.
Being a Certified Health and Nutrition Coach (AADP) from the world-renown Institute for Integrative Nutrition in NYC, I coach clients on how to make lifestyle changes from the inside out by addressing the areas of belief systems, low-glycemic eating, nutritional supplementation and exercise. This combination allows me to create a unique program for anyone seeking a healthier life. I have partnered with USANA Health Sciences to bring you the highest quality and most effective health and wellness products the industry has to offer. Let me join you on your journey to health and freedom!