The Rocky Road of Sugar
Sugar is the one substance that I have a bumpy, rocky, rickety relationship with. I don’t think I am alone in that. It is the one substance that I am able to eliminate for months at a time and then something happens – either a birthday, a chocolate occasion (Valentine’s Day, Easter, Halloween, Christmas) and I have one piece – and then the next thing you know I am craving it again and having a hard time resisting the temptation and back on the sugar roller coaster with blood sugar crashes, headaches, mood swings, acne and weight gain – fun stuff!! It is almost drug-like for me – it is my go to in times of stress and I have to admit, I find it comforting. I am embarking on another “sugar-free” phase and will be incorporating the suggestions below. I hope you’ll join me!!
1| Watch One or All of the Documentaries Available on Sugar
Fed Up, Hungry for Change, Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead or The Secrets of Sugar. This will increase your awareness about sugar and will provide additional incentive to decrease your dietary consumption of sugar.
2| Remember Your Math
On food labels, sugar is quoted in grams. But what does this really mean? I find it helpful to remember that 4 grams of sugar is equal to 1 teaspoon. This gives me a better visual when I am reading labels. For example, if the yogurt you are eating is artificially sweetened, it may contain 24 grams of sugar in ½ cup serving. This is the equivalent of 6 tsp of sugar, which is a lot! In this case, it is better to buy plain yogurt and mix in ½ a cup of fresh fruit.
3| Eat Within Your Limits
As you are decreasing the amount of sugar in your diet, it is best to figure out what your average daily consumption is by keeping a diet diary. From there, you can make changes. Aim to have 1-2 less teaspoons of sugar per week until it is eliminated from your diet.
4| Avoid Processed Junk Foods
Sugar is an addictive substance that has a powerful influence on your brain. Eating sugar artificially stimulates a region of your brain called the nucleus accumbens, to produce dopamine, the pleasure neurotransmitter. Soon dopamine levels drop and we start to feel “flat”…or a bit “down”. We crave this pleasant, feel-good feeling again…so we reach for sugar and the cycle of addiction has begun. The best thing you can do is avoid processed junk food, which contains sugar, to help break this cycle.
5| Boost Your Serotonin
Serotonin, also known as “the happiness hormone,” can be raised through a natural low glycemic diet, daily exercise and plenty of deep restful sleep. When you have sufficient serotonin, you are less likely to have cravings for sweets.
6| Use Stevia to Satisfy Your Sweet Tooth
The all-natural sweetener, stevia, has zero calories, does not raise blood sugar levels despite being 300 times sweeter than sugar. If you have sugar cravings and want to satisfy your sweet tooth, stevia is a safe bet. Stevia comes in liquid and powder form and is available in most grocery and health food stores.
7| Stay Hydrated with Water
You may sometimes think that your body is asking for sugar, when in fact it’s dehydrated and really craving water! Remember the rule of thumb with water is to drink ½ your body weight (in pounds) in ounces. If you weigh 125 lbs, the minimum amount of water to drink is 2L. Many complain about the taste of water, so try this simple delicious cravings-buster lemonade: In 8 oz. of water, add the juice of ½ lemon and 5 drops of stevia. You could also try a warm cup of green tea, sweetened with stevia after your meal. This satisfies your sweet tooth and you won’t want a dessert.
8| Stabilize Blood Sugar Levels
Eat several small, healthy meals throughout your day instead of 3 large portions to avoid dips in blood sugar. Your evening meal should include one of the preferred gluten-free grain-like seeds, such as quinoa, millet, buckwheat or amaranth. If you do this, your body will produce more serotonin, you’ll feel happier and you’ll sleep much better at night.
9| Have Plenty of Greens
Loaded with nutrition, greens help boost your energy and help reduce cravings for sugar and processed foods. Here are some simple green juice recipes to try: a) Celery*, lemon and pear (or apple*); b) Celery*, cucumber*, lemon (leave the skin on) and pear (or apple*); c) Celery*, cucumber*, kale, lemon and pear (or apple*); d) Celery*, cucumber*, lemon, parsley and pear (or apple*)*ensure organic
10| Eat More Sea Vegetables
Loaded with vitamins and minerals, seaweed or sea vegetables make for a great addition to salads and meals! They are mineral-rich while eating anything with sugar immediately depletes minerals from your body. Sprinkle dulse flakes on your salad or an avocado. Add seaweed to your soups for a rich salty and mineral flavour.
11| Eat and Drink More Fermented Foods and Drinks
Fermented foods and drinks are an important way to reduce or even eliminate cravings for sugar. Try live fermented kefir, sauerkraut, kim-chi, kombucha tea, natural plain yoghurt, coconut kefir or any of your favourite fermented foods. You’ll be amazed at how the sour taste of fermented foods and drinks relieves the desire for sugar and processed foods.
12| Use Fresh Fruit as a Healthy Sugar Substitute
Summer is such a great time to incorporate healthy fruit into your diet. Remind yourself of what sugary, processed foods really are: dead energy food with no vitality. Compare that to a strawberry that is bursting with flavour or having juicy watermelon – there is no comparison! Enjoy the vitality of fresh fruit first and you will kick your craving for unhealthy sugary foods
13| Learn Meditation & Stress Reduction Techniques
Meditation can help ward off cravings by helping to reduce stress. Stress creates the hormone cortisol, which increases blood sugar levels. This is a vicious cycle that damages your adrenals and creates sugar cravings. Try exercise, yoga or meditation class before or after work to calm your body and mind.
14| Try EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique)
If you’re looking to shift the desire for sugar, lose weight, stop a habit of binging or eliminate any addiction, you owe it to yourself to learn about EFT. EFT is an easy tool that anyone can learn in minutes. You simply tap on emotional acupressure points on your body while repeating key statements that help shift your body, mind and habits.
Referenced from: http://www.hungryforchange.tv/sugar-is-a-drug
Image Copyright: <a href=’https://www.123rf.com/profile_olegdudko’>olegdudko / 123RF Stock Photo</a>
Christina Bjorndal, B.Comm, ND, graduated from UBC in 1990 with Bachelor of Commerce Degree with honours. She was Valedictorian of her graduating class. She completed her Doctorate in naturopathic medicine from CCNM in 2005. She is a specialist in Canada in the treatment of mental illnesses such as depression, anxiety, bipolar disorders, eating disorders, ADD/ADHD, OCD and schizoaffective disorders. Having overcome many challenges in the sphere of mental health, Dr. Chris is a gifted motivational speaker on mental health and shares how to overcome barriers in life and to encourage others to achieve their full potential. She is currently completing a book on mental health titled “Beyond the Label: Moving from the stigma and shame”