Sugar is a sneaky and insidious substance and recent research has determined that sugar is actually as addictive as heroin to the human brain. Furthermore added sugars are very harmful to your health. Our sugar problem has gone out of control. One need only look at the rising diabetes and obesity rates to get an idea of the impact of sugar on our lives. Slowly the trend is growing and folks are slowly understanding the importance of getting off the sugar bandwagon. It can be a little tougher to implement than you might think. To make the process easier, here are a few strategies to get you started.
1. Make a decision to detox
If you’re not entirely sure if you are addicted to sugar, take a moment to answer the following questions:
- Do you crave sugar, all day, every day, or even a few times a week? This would include candy, sweets, chocolates, baked goods and lots of fruit
- Do you crave carbohydrates? This would include bread, rice, pasta, pastries, cereal (even ‘heart healthy’ oatmeal), sandwiches, wraps and breakfast bars?
- Do you include something sweet with every meal or snack?
- Do you experience spikes and dips in your energy levels throughout the day?
- Do you often feel tired upon waking up in the morning?
- Do you consume alcohol multiple times a week?
- Are you struggling to burn body fat?
- Are you following a low-fat, whole-grain-rich diet that doesn’t seem to be working?
- Does the way you eat leave you hungry and unsatisfied and grazing on snacks every 2-3 hours?
- Do you follow a ‘real food’ protocol yes still experience carbohydrate or sugar cravings?
If you answered yes to at least one of those questions, and most of us answer yes to at least one, then you are probably a victim of that other white powder, sugar!
Certain symptoms including bloating, gas, reflux, irritable bowel, joint or muscle pain, brain fog, memory or mood problems, sinus or allergy symptoms, and more are directly linked to the over-consumption of sugars and refined, processed carbohydrates. Getting rid of these substances is the short cut route to your health and happiness.
2. Just do it
There is no way to handle a true physiological addiction except to stop it completely. Addicts can’t have just one line of cocaine or just one drink. Go cold turkey. Using the tips and tricks I go through will make this white-knuckle transition a little easier to bear.
Stop consuming all forms of sugar, flour products, and artificial sweeteners, which increase and exaggerate your cravings, slow your metabolism, and lead to fat storage.
Rid your kitchen, your pantry and your diet of anything with highly processed, trans or hydrogenated fats and MSG and other additives and preservatives. Be aware of hidden and alternate names for all non-naturally occurring ingredients. As much as possible, avoid any foods that come in a box, package, or a can, or that have a label. Stick to real, whole, fresh food for at least 2 weeks.
3. Stop drinking your sugars
Any form of liquid sugar is even worse than solid food with sugar or flour. This is the equivalent mainlining sugar directly to into your liver as without the benefits of solid food, a fat storage mechanism in your liver is turned off, leading to dreaded belly fat. You are unable to identify satiety, so you continue to eat more and you crave more sugar and refined carbohydrates.
Sweetened beverages are the single largest source of sugar calories in your diet. This includes sodas, juices other than green vegetable juice, sports drinks, and sweetened teas or coffees.
One 610 ml bottle of soda has 15 teaspoons of sugar; Gatorade contains 14 teaspoons in one bottle. Stay away.
4. Protein is you morning powerhouse
Eating protein at every meal, especially breakfast or your morning meal, is the key to balancing blood sugar and insulin and cutting cravings. Start the day with eggs from free run chickens or a high quality protein shake.
Use nuts, seeds, eggs, fish, chicken or grass-fed meat for protein each time you have a meal or snack. A serving size is 4 to 6 ounces or the size of your palm (or as many eggs as you can hold in your hand).
5. Eat the right carbohydrates in unlimited quantities
All vegetables are carbohydrates and you get to eat as many of certain ones as you want. I am talking about the non-starchy veggies such as greens, anything in the broccoli family (cauliflower, kale, collards),asparagus, green beans, mushrooms, onions, zucchini, tomatoes, fennel, eggplant, artichokes, and peppers, to name a few.
Limit potatoes, sweet potatoes, winter squash, beets and all vegetables that grow below the ground to 1 cup or 1 small piece per day. Avoid all grains, legumes and beans for at least 14 days. This exponentially increases the results so you lose weight and feel great.
6. Fat is your BFF
Fat does not make you fat, sugar does. Fat makes you full, balances your blood sugar, and is necessary for fueling your cells. Along with protein, have good fats at every meal and snack including nuts and seeds (which also contain protein), extra virgin olive oil, coconut butter, avocados, and omega-3 fats from wild caught fish and seafood.
7. Be prepared
You want to avoid being in the situation where your blood sugar is dropping and you find yourself in a food desert such as an airport, the office, or in a maze of convenience stores, fast food joints, and vending machines. You need a nutritional desperation kit filled with protein, good fats, and good snacks with you at all times so you are never left with no option other than a poor food choice. Some suggestions of what to include are:
- Individual packages of nut butters and coconut butter
- Assorted nut and seeds (almonds, walnuts, macadamias, pumpkin seeds)
- Grass-fed beef jerky, salmon jerky or turkey jerky
- Easy open small cans of wild salmon or sardines packed in water or olive oil
- Unsweetened dried berries
If you are stressed, your hormones become unbalanced. Cortisol goes up which makes you hungry, causes belly fat storage, and leads to type-2 diabetes. Studies show that taking deep breaths activates the Vagus nerve, which shifts your metabolism from fat storage to fat burning and quickly moves you out of a stressed state. It is as simple as taking 4 or 5 long, slow, deep, belly breaths. In to the count of five, out to the count of five. Try this before every meal and watch what happens.
9. Reduce inflammation
Studies show that inflammation triggers blood sugar imbalances, insulin resistance, pre-diabetes, and type-2 diabetes. The most common source of inflammatory foods other than sugar, flour, and trans fats are hidden food sensitivities. The most prevalent culprits are gluten and dairy. You will often crave the foods you are allergic or sensitive and without them you may be left feeling awful and craving them even more. Try cutting out gluten and dairy for at least 14 days. This may not be easy at first, but after just 2 or 3 days without them, you will feel your energy renewed, your cravings lifted and many of your common symptoms will just seem to disappear.
Too little or poor quality sleep drives sugar and carbohydrate cravings by affecting your appetite hormones. In human studies, depriving college students of just two hours of the recommended eight hours of sleep led to a rise in hunger hormones, a decrease in appetite-suppressing hormones, and big cravings for sugar and refined carbohydrates.
If you are unable to sleep, and thus restore and repair, you will need an energy boost which is often craved in the form of rapidly absorbed sugars. Sleep is the best way to fight against the drive to overeat. You literally can sleep your cravings, your reliance on sugar and your weight away.
14 days, 2 short weeks is all it takes to rein in your reliance on sugar and get you experiencing and understanding what feeling healthy, amazing, energetic and strong are truly all about.