12 Tips to Quit Sugar
Sugar seems to be the word on everyone's lips at the minute and for good reason. The problem is sugar comes in many different forms so I find that people come into my clinic with a yeast or sugar intolerance and they say but I don't eat sugar. I then ask do you eat bread, pasta, potato, processed dinners or fruit and the answer changes. I am a self confessed sugar addict and although I am aware and can control it I still have good and bad days. The most common misconception is that fats makes you fat which is wrong it is in fact sugar! Sugar has no nutritional value so should be eliminated from our diets as it serves no purpose other than to make us sick. Carbohydrates do have a nutritional value and therefore should not be eliminated. Sugar is in fact a pure chemical extracted from plant sources and is commonly known as sucrose. Other simple sugars include dextrose, fructose and glucose so watch out for these on the ingredients list. Also stay away from sweeteners as they contain sugar alcohols such as xylitol, glycerol, sorbitol, maltitol and mannitol, which may cause tummy and bowels problems. If I was to use anything to sweeten my desserts it would be stevia or rice syrup as they have 0% fructose. Fructose is a component of table sugar and high fructose corn syrup. The problem with fructose is that it stresses out the liver. Time and time again I see people in my client with liver problems who do not drink but eat a lot of fruit or honey. I am not saying do not eat fruit but do advise a 30 day elimination period as it will make you crave sugar. Fruits contain naturally contained sugars that are balanced by the fibre, which slows down sugar digestion to help the body deal with it but it must not be over eaten. When we eat fructose the liver turns this directly to fat if it is not being detoxed which is why exercise is so important but we tend to not do exercise after eating fruit or honey so it remains where it shouldn't.
As I mention below learn to read labels and watch out for the hidden sugars in ketchup, salad dressing, curry paste and bread. Don't be fooled by wholegrain bread either, as they are both digested at the same rate and cause the same rise in blood glucose levels. Sugar is an addiction like taking drugs that set's off the brain's pleasure centre making us feel good and when it is taken away we get shakes, anxiety and low moods just like cold turkey which is why you will feel dreadful for the first 5-7 days eliminating it. In fact, sugar actually makes us more hungry, messing with the hormone leptin that tells our brain when we are full making us overeat and gain weight. The most common problem I see clients needing help with is energy. Although sugar gives you that instant hit it is followed with a huge energy crash as it actually releases serotonin which is out sleep regulator. If your mood is low or you suffer from depression then it could be your sugar addiction. I used to get very low moods in my sugar hey day and now only if I eat something sweet or have a glass of wine which has more sugar than a jammy donut!
Now let's be realistic sugar is everywhere and depending on your willpower you can either totally cut sugar completely or allow yourself some low sugar fruits or dark chocolate to get your through. Personally, from experience I would go cold turkey for 30 days to allow your taste buds to change meaning you will not crave the stuff. This will also motivate you as the weight will drop off, you will feel so much energy and generally be happier in yourself. If you are really struggling, then make a better choice rather than the wrong choice. Don't go for strawberry Haribos when you could have some strawberries and make your own sugar free spelt bread to see you through the cravings.
Follow these top 12 tips:
1. Replace all refined sugar with natural ones that have no fructose. These include coconut sugar, rice syrup, raw honey and maple syrup.
2. Start reading labels on food. Make sure the sugar levels are low. Eg 6g of sugar per 100g.
3. Throw out all foods saying low in fat as this means high in sugar.
4. Eat more good fats like, coconut oil, natural yoghurt, raw milk, nuts, seeds, avocado and grass fed butter. Dietary fat stabilises blood sugar killing cravings. Avoid vegetables oil, trans fats and all margarines.
5. Make your own treats and biscuits. If you want something sweet then have these already made at hand using natural sweeteners. Flap jacks, sweet potato brownies, protein balls. The list is endless. I will be adding loads more if these to the sweet treat section on my website so stay posted.
6. Eat more protein rich foods to keep you fuller for longer like chicken, turkey, pulses, beans, quinoa. Avoid or reduce potatoes, rice and wheat products.
7. Switch to organic meat, fruit and vegetables. Avoid any chemicals, hormones or antibiotics added to these foods to keep your hormones in balance.
8. Speaking of hormones get enough sleep. If you don't get a good restful sleep then you will release the stress hormone cortisol, which in turn stops the appetite control hormone Leptin from working properly.
9. Similar to the last one try and avoid stress as this will make you over eat. Go to bed early and read rather than watching TV, take a walk, do yoga, don't over do cardio exercises as this puts extra stress in the adrenals. I do a meditation class on a Monday night and it keeps me sane for the rest of the week!
10. Avoid artificial sweeteners as these make you crave more.
11. Change the habit. This is all it is. We are not hungry from sugar just used to having it. When we hurt ourselves or got sad as a child our mums have us sugar to feel better, when we were good our mums gave us sugar as a reward and when we need to celebrate we but cakes, buns treats. Of course we are addicted as it's all we know from childhood. It takes 28 days to change a habit so start now!
12. Last but not least improve your gut health! If you haven’t read my last article on the damage that antibiotics can do then read it now. If you want a healthy body then you need to have a healthy gut. Sugar promotes the growth of bad bacteria in the gut and stops the growth of good bacteria, which helps protect us from undigested food particles. Most people ignore this and it's the biggest mistake. Eat fermented foods and yummy fizzy kefir drinks. Check out how to make your own at The Cultured Club who run regular courses or take a really good food state pre and probiotic to replace that good bacteria. This controls any yeast overgrowth, which promotes sugar cravings. Other natural probiotic foods include sweet potato, raw onions, garlic, asparagus, and avocado so include these in your diet.
Check out my website for some sugar/yeast/dairy/ wheat free recipes for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks.
Sample Sugar Free Menu Plan:
Lunch: Homemade soup made with yeast free stock, salad with quinoa or lentils or left over dinner from the night before.
Drinks: Water with fresh lemon or lime, water kefir, herbal teas like red bush, dandelion to cleanse the liver, peppermint and liquorice or chai tea to help with sugar cravings.
If you have any questions or thoughts then leave a comment below.