While writings on sugar addiction and breaking it are vast, here are some quick ways to alter your lifestyle and to enjoy more energy without sugar. There are many foods and supplements that will regulate blood sugar and cravings; three are included below to quickly eliminate your body’s demands for it. Homeopathics are great too but we’ll have to include those in another installment.
On another note, people engaged in the sugar battle can become discouraged and berate themselves for their inability to quit. We hope they take heart! Rats equipped with their animal survival instincts will still opt for sugar water over cocaine if given the choice. Americans are fighting brain and hormonal responses, heavy-duty marketing, years of diet conditioning and misinformation, food additives, and Candida yeast to name a few. The Candida alone will put up a fight for its sweet sustenance and will scream in your body for more sugar! Those free riders need to go away and leave our energy alone.
Overcoming Sugar Addiction
I received quite a few emails after my last post about sugar addiction. Yes, you know sugar is not good for you, but you NEED it…especially after a meal and certainly after you’ve eaten a bite of chocolate goodness. What was once thought of as a relatively innocuous source of empty calories is now understood as a major contributor to our nation’s increasing rates of obesity, diabetes, ADHD, metabolic syndrome and cancer.
Sugar is known to lower our immune system and makes us more susceptible to infections. Sugar gives an initial burst of energy followed by a crash, which leads to wanting more and more sugar. This series of highs and lows stresses your adrenal glands and contributes to fatigue, anxiety and sleep disturbances. I still think that sugar in moderation will not cause disease or significant weight gain. On the other hand, for many people, sugar in moderation leads to a psychological battle of watching the minutes until the next sugary fix and the unhealthy consequences of addiction.
Sugar addiction is real. One study showed rats that were given a choice between sugar water and cocaine, chose sugar 94% of the time. Even rats addicted to cocaine, switched to sugar water when given the choice. This shows that sweetness is more rewarding to the brain than cocaine (well, at least in rats who happen to metabolize sugar like we do).
In order to overcome sugar addiction, I recommend a 3-week strict sugar elimination. I usually recommend this as part of a 3-week cleanse. It takes 3-weeks of avoidance to reset the palate, eliminate cravings and allow the consumption of sugar in moderation (such as the occasional dessert during an evening out). Also, a cleanse eliminates wheat and dairy which, I have found, also contribute to sugar cravings. Here are some tips to help you manage sugar cravings during the 3-week elimination period:
- Eat regular meals and snacks. Eat 5 small meals a day or 3 meals and 2 snacks. If you go too long without eating, blood sugar drops and sugar cravings spike.
- Eat a whole foods diet. If you cannot imagine a food growing, sprouting, running or swimming- just don’t eat it. Your diet should include vegetables, fruits, beans, legumes, nuts, seeds, healthy sources of animal protein (if you eat meat), healthy fats, herbs, and spices. The more processed a food, the quicker our bodies metabolize it to sugar and the quicker our bodies want more sugar. For example, pasta (which is not a whole food) is rapidly broken down into sugar and leads to more sugar cravings.
- When you crave sugar, eat protein. Protein helps to stabilize blood sugar, which prevents blood sugar drops and subsequent sugar cravings.
- Stay well hydrated. Dehydration can be interpreted as a different type of hunger that only sugar will satisfy. Also, dehydration contributes to fatigue, which triggers a sugar craving.
- Start your day with a good source of protein and include protein at every meal. A morning protein shake is a healthy and nutritious way to start your day. Other healthy protein sources include: beans (black, red, adzuki, mung, garbanzo), lentils, wild salmon, sardines, organic free-range chicken and turkey, and eggs (except no eggs during the cleanse)
- Keep sugar out of the house. Just don’t buy it.
- Exercise. Moving your body and increasing your heart rate boost energy and decrease your need for a sugar fix. Even feeling a mild soreness is a good thing because it causes us to remember to nurture our body with whole foods.
- Hormonal balance. Hormonal imbalance, which may present as PMS, PCOS or menstrual irregularity, can contribute to sugar cravings.
- Sleep. Feeling tired often contributes to sugar cravings, in order to achieve an energy rush.
- Explore emotional issues around your sugar addiction. Often times a craving for sugar is a disguise for an emotional need that isn’t being met.
- Do not substitute with artificial sweeteners. They’re just toxic to the body.
- Do not substitute with natural sweeteners like honey or stevia. Natural sweeteners may be healthier than sucrose, but they do nothing to eliminate cravings.
- Supplements. If you feel you need additional support, consider the following supplements:
- Gymnema sylvestre- two dropperfuls on your tongue will numb your sugar taste buds. Try a bite of sugar after taking the herb, you won’t taste the sugar and you won’t want another bite.
- Chromium picolinate- 600 mcg- 3000mcg/day helps to support insulin sensitivity, balances blood sugar and reduces cravings.
- L-Glutamine- 1000mg-2000mg every 4-hours can relieve sugar cravings.
Maggie Ney, N.D.
“Candida & The Yeast Connection” Live on W.A.L.E. Radio-Rhode Island, Marijah McCain ND