Reprinted with permission from Be Well by Dr. Frank Lipman.
As the saying goes – everyone is talking about sugar, but what are they doing about it? It’s my fervent wish that they – and you – are working on quitting the stuff. Why? The short answer is that sugar is an extraordinarily destructive substance that most people eat far too much of. The longer answer is that virtually every day, more studies are proving what we in the optimal health community have always believed: that sugar plays a pivotal role in the development of many of the devastating illnesses we fear most, namely heart disease, cancer, diabetes and Alzheimer’s to name a few.
Granted the body does need trace amounts of sugar to function, but the average American is eating sugar by the pound, not the molecule. Some estimates put the average adult intake at close to 130 pounds of sugar a year – an astonishing amount of any substance, much less one which such disastrous health implications. So what do we do now? In a nutshell: kick sugar to the curb – your life absolutely depends on it.
Here are a few thoughts on how to break free and get sugar out of your life now – so you can live the sweet life for years to come:
Eat three meals and two snacks or five small meals a day. For many people, if they don’t eat regularly, their blood sugar levels drop, they feel hungry and are more likely to crave sweet sugary snacks. With time, as you break free from sugar and start eating more fat and protein and fewer carbs, you won’t need to eat as often.
The closer a food is to its original form, the less processed sugar it will contain. Food in its natural form, including fruits and vegetables, usually presents no metabolic problems for a normal body, especially when consumed in variety.
My experience has been that when people do a proper cleanse, not only does it reset their appetites but it often decreases their sugar cravings. After the initial sugar cravings, which can be overwhelming, our bodies adjust and we won’t even want the sugar anymore and the desire will disappear.
Breakfast smoothies are ideal for this. The typical breakfast full of carbs and sugary or starchy foods is the worst option since you’ll have cravings all day. Eating a good breakfast is essential to prevent sugar cravings
This helps control blood sugar levels. Make sure they are healthy sources of each.
Coriander, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and cardamom will naturally sweeten your foods and reduce cravings.
Nutrient deficiencies can make cravings worse and the fewer nutrient deficiencies, the fewer cravings. Certain nutrients seem to improve blood sugar control including chromium, vitamin B3 and magnesium.
Exercise, dance or do some yoga. Whatever movement you enjoy will help reduce tension, boost your energy and decrease your need for a sugar lift.
When we are tired we often use sugar for energy to counteract the exhaustion.
Many times our craving for sugar is more for an emotional need that isn’t being met.
It’s difficult to snack on things that aren’t there!
This will do little to alter your desire for sweets.
Although I would encourage you to eat as few foods as possible that have labels, educate yourself about what you’re putting into your body. The longer the list of ingredients, the more likely sugar is going to be included on that list. So check the grams of sugar, and choose products with the least sugar per serving (I teaspoon of sugar is roughly equivalent to about 4 grams). Become familiar with sugar terminology and recognize that all of these are sweeteners: agave, corn syrup, corn sugar, high fructose corn syrup, sucrose, dextrose, honey, cane sugar, cane crystals, fruit juice concentrates, molasses, turbinado sugar and brown sugar.
Remember that most of the “complex” carbohydrates we consume like bread (including whole wheat), bagels and pasta aren’t really complex at all. They are usually highly refined or act just like sugars in the body and are to be avoided.
While I won’t say our national love affair with sugar is all in the mind – there is a strong physical component to sugar addiction – one way to kick off your sugar-free journey is to re-frame the way you think about sugar. Treat it like an illicit drug, a kind of legal form of heroin, a dark force to be avoided, and a substance whose use leads to physical ruin. Next, take a look at CBS’s 60 Minutes “Is Sugar Toxic?” story – it’s a potentially life-changing report for anyone who needs just a bit more inspiration to help them kick sugar.
It often relieves sugar cravings as the brain uses it for fuel.
Find a quiet spot, get comfortable and sit for a few minutes and focus on your breath. After a few minutes of this, the craving will pass.
Go for a walk, if possible, in nature. Cravings usually last for 10-20 minutes maximum. If you can distract yourself with something else, it often passes. The more you do this, the easier it gets and the cravings get easier to deal with.
Sometimes drinking water or seltzer water can help with the sugar (and junk food) cravings (in addition to fighting bloating by helping with hydration). Also sometimes what we perceive as a food craving is really thirst.
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Stay Ever Well,
Lynne + Renee