Are you ready to make 2019 your best year ever? If health is at the top of your list then you have come to the right spot. The start of the year seems like a good time to address the topic of sugar. Especially if you are just emerging out of the holiday party scene having indulged a little, like me.
I have to tell you that I would have laughed at the title of this post 4 years ago. I was an absolute sugar lover, in fact I would skip dinner all together if I was traveling and pick up a giant bag of gummy bears instead, as I ran through the airport. The idea that sugar was a bad thing was furthest from my mind. After all…it was fat-free. Yes, I did fall into that trap for a while too. I am going to share with you a few things that I did to help cut sugar out of my life.
Before I start, I want to clarify what sugar I am talking about. I am not talking about natural sugars that you get from fruits and some vegetables. Those sugars are not the ones we should be worried about. I am going to be addressing how to curb your addiction to REFINED sugar.
When I decided to launch my own war on sugar, I was into my 3rd round of chemo. I would highly discourage anyone from doing that when undergoing chemo….matter of fact I would NEVER recommend to do such a crazy thing. I did not realize how devastating it was for my body when I was already under immense pressure from the very toxic cocktail of chemo drugs. Ultimately my body recovered from detoxing from sugar and the harmful side effects of chemo, but it did take some time.
The main reason for eliminating sugar from my diet back then was to stop feeding my cancer. Cancer feeds on sugar so with that motivation backing me I stayed focus on steering clear of the small white stuff. But beyond cancer, excess sugar has been linked to many health ailments such as hormonal imbalances, depression and anxiety, weight gain, heart disease, premature aging, inflammation, to name just a few. So there are many reasons you want to cut back on the amount of sugar you consume.
Here are my 10 tips that anyone can implement today to start the process of kicking your sugar addiction.
1. Reduce or eliminate caffeine, which includes coffee. I can hear people screaming and gasping as they read. If that sounds so drastic….I am asking you to stick with me and hear the rest of what I have to say. Coffee can be good in some instances, but if your body needs it to wake up then your body might be telling you that something is not right. Sugar tends to disrupt your sleep and if you need that coffee first thing in the morning you might not be getting enough restful sleep. At a very minimum eliminate all the creamers and artificial sweeteners. The amount of junk and sugar contained in those sort of things really adds up fast. The ups and downs of caffeine include dehydration and blood sugar swings, and may cause sugar cravings later on in the day. And since you typically have it when you wake….you have a long day of sugar cravings a head of you.
2. Drink water. Sometimes sweet cravings are a sign of dehydration. Before you reach for the sugar, have a glass of water and wait a few minutes. I start every morning with no exception with warm lemon water. And throughout the day if I am feeling a little hungry I will reach for my glass of water.
3. Eat naturally sweet vegetables and fruit to crowd out your sugar cravings. This was HUGE for me. I ate an insane amount of fruits and vegetables in the first few weeks of cutting the sugar out. It really helped get me over what I call the sugar “hump” in those early days of quitting. Remember not all sugars are created equal. Sugar from real food can heal and help with those cravings.
4. Avoid artificial sweeteners and foods with added sugar. Use gentle sweeteners like maple syrup, brown rice syrup, dried fruit, stevia and honey over store-bought packaged sweeteners.
5. Get physically active. Start with simple activities like walking and yoga. Start with 10 minutes a day and gradually increase. Being active helps balance blood sugar levels, boost energy, reduce tension, and decrease the likelihood that you’ll want to self-medicate with sugar.
6. Get more sleep, rest and relaxation. Simple carbohydrates, such as sugar, are the most readily available sources of energy for an exhausted body and mind. If you’re in a state of chronic stress and/or sleep deprivation, your body will crave the quickest form of energy available – sugar. I think I was in this state for YEARS which is one of the many reasons why I craved sugar so badly. Being conscious of this has improved my life 10 fold. Focusing on my health first has allowed me to give more to my family. It has also given me back the energy I craved.
7. Evaluate the amount of animal food you eat. According to yin-yang principles of eating (such as in Macrobiotics and Chinese Medicine), eating too much animal food (yang) can lead to cravings for sweets (yin). Imbalances can also occur when you eat too little animal protein. Through experimentation and intuition you can find which foods create balance for you as an individual.
8. Eliminate fat-free or low-fat packaged snack foods. I fell victim to the fat-free or low-fat trends when it first entered the scene back in the early 90’s. I could not have been more wrong. I shuttered to think of how my need for avoiding fat potentially wrecked major havoc on my body. These foods contain high quantities of sugar to compensate for the lack of flavor and fat, which will send you on a roller coaster ride of sugar highs and lows.
9. Experiment with spices. This is where things really start to get fun. I rarely, if ever, used spices and herbs before quitting sugar and now I love to experiment and try new flavors all the time. Coriander, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, curry, ginger, and turmeric will naturally flavor your food and reduce cravings.
10. Slow down and find sweetness in non-food ways! Cravings almost always have a psychological component. By identifying the underlying causes of food cravings and making lifestyle adjustments accordingly, you can find balance and take charge of your health. When life becomes sweet, excess sugar isn’t needed!
I would love to hear how you’re doing cutting back or eliminating sugar from your life. Leave a comment below!