Eating a cookie, piece of chocolate cake or ice cream is one of life's simple pleasures. Especially when we are stressed out. Sugar makes us feel happy! Sugar activates dopamine, the feel-good hormone, in our brain. Dopamine makes our experience with sugar a chemical bond that can be really hard to stop. Some even get addicted.
WHY DO I CRAVE SUGAR?
While feeling good is the immediate reaction we have when eating sugary foods, eventually sugar intolerance develops and we need to eat more just to get that feel good feeling back. Eating more sugar is really bad for our bodies. Our bodies want to be in balance. They need healthy fats, complex carbohydrates, protein and other nutrients to maintain a healthy body. Having too much or too little of any of the above, including sugar, means the body is imbalanced.
It may surprise you to learn that sugar is a macronutrient and is necessary for us to have the right amount of glucose in our body. Glucose is needed by the muscles and brain to function properly. Natural sources of sugar are found in fruits, vegetables and whole grains.
How many grams of sugar should I eat a day? For women, no more than 6 teaspoons (or 25 grams) per day and for men, 9 teaspoons or 36 grams per day. (Source: Heart.org) But really, we only need about 2 teaspoons in our body at any given time. We can get the sugar we need from eating whole, real foods (that means fruits, grains and vegetables) and not processed foods. A bonus of eating whole real foods is they supply fiber.
Craving sugar means your body is imbalanced. One reason sugar cravings happen is due to not eating enough and/or not eating balanced meals. For example, if you are trying to lose weight so you are restricting calories by not eating enough, a sugar craving happens. The craving is your body telling you that it needs energy very quickly and sugar is a quick energy hit for the body. To stop the sugar craving, aim to have eat balanced meals. (Source: Cleveland Clinic)
LOW BLOOD SUGAR
What are the symptoms of low blood sugar? Feeling shaky, hungry, faint, sweaty, irritable and inability to concentrate are just a few of the mild symptoms of low blood sugar. Low blood sugar can happen when you haven't eaten enough, drank too much alcohol, lack of cortisol, thyroid or growth hormone, increasing exercise and reduced food intake, and sometimes from antibiotics.
What to do for low blood sugar? The best thing to do is to drink a fruit juice which contains natural sugar that can quickly restore blood sugar levels. To prevent low blood sugar make sure to eat enough balanced meals and (if needed) have a snack during the day. Protein helps to keep us fuller longer so make sure you are eating enough (not too much) protein at meal-time.
HIGH BLOOD SUGAR
High blood sugar either happens because of diabetes or another health condition. Diabetes affects over 8% of the total U.S. population. In diabetes, blood glucose levels rise either because there is an insufficient amount of insulin in the body or the body cannot use insulin well. (Source: Medicine Net) Other health conditions are pancreatitis, hyperthyroidism, cushing's syndrome and pharmaceuticals. If you are diagnosed with high blood sugar, working with a doctor and a Certified Holistic Nutritionist can help manage your unique situation.
SUGAR AND INFLAMMATION
Ultimately, eating too much sugar causes inflammation in the body. Especially in the gut. Think about it - what we eat has to get processed by our digestive system. Too much sugar results in increased gut permeability, which means the gut lining has gaps in it. These gaps allow bacteria, toxins and undigested food particles to easily move out of the gut and into the bloodstream, potentially leading to inflammation. (Source: Healthline)
How do you know if your gut is inflamed? There are a wide variety of symptoms that indicate the gut is inflamed. Does any of this sound like you?
👉Diarrhea and/or constipation
👉Bloating and gas
👉Congestion, coughing, wheezing
👉Brain fog, difficulty recalling words, short term memory issues
👉Headaches and migraines
👉Acne and itchy skin
👉Tired all the time
👉Sensitivity to fragrances and chemicals
If you said yes to just one of the above, your body is telling you something is not right. Discovering the root cause and how to have a healthy gut can be confusing and hard! I am here to help.
I am a Certified Holistic Nutritionist obsessed with teaching people just like you how to heal their gut so you can stop suffering and get back to living!
I offer a FREE 30 minute strategy session where we will talk about your specific symptoms and how the Simply Great Health program can help.
How would eliminating your symptoms improve your life? You could:
✅Be more present with your children
✅Focus at work
✅Have more energy
✅Stop running to the bathroom
✅Workout without fear of an accident or farting
✅Restore your confidence
✅Be able to cook healthy meals for you and your family
✅Take an active vacation
✅Reclaim your life!
Simply Great Health is a customized 5 Step plan that heals your body and fits your busy lifestyle.
It’s very simple. No jumping through hoops and NO PRESSURE.
If we determine it’s not a fit, we’ll go our separate ways for now.
If it is a fit, we can take the next step and get you started on the path to healing.
HOW TO QUIT SUGAR
There are several ways you can start quitting sugar. Did you know you can retrain your taste buds to enjoy things that are not as sweet? Try cutting out 1 sweet food one day a week. Or reduce the amount of sugar in coffee slowly each day. Choose good for you sweet foods. Such as berries on top of oatmeal or dried fruit instead of sugar.
Eat high protein foods! Protein does not spike your blood sugar and will keep you fuller longer. Foods like salmon, beans, legumes and nuts are a few suggestions. Eat high fiber foods! Choose fruits, vegetables and whole grains that will naturally have a sweetness and keep you fuller longer. A great snack is unsweetened almond butter on a sliced apple. As long as the almond butter does not have added sugar!
To kick the sugar habit you need to slowly reduce the amount of sugar in your day. By doing it slowly, you can keep up the new habit more easily. If you try to stop sugar cold-turkey without a plan for how you will substitute other foods to overcome the desire to eat sugar, feelings of frustration and anxiety can occur. The good news is when you do this slowly, in just a few weeks, you won't even miss the sugar you have cut out.
SUGAR DETOX FOR BEGINNERS
Before starting a new eating style to reduce the amount of sugar you are eating, there are a few key actions to focus on to ensure success.
#1 KNOW YOUR WHY
Why do you want to stop or reduce eating sugar? Did you get a test back from your doctor that was concerning? Are you on weight loss journey? Are you worried you won't be able to play with your grandchildren? Do you feel tired, want more energy or are upset about a skin condition? Define why you want to stop eating sugar and write it down. Make it a reminder for yourself where you can see it everyday. Maybe a sticky on the bathroom mirror or a note on the refrigerator or a reminder on your cell phone.
#2 CELEBRATE EVERY STEP IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION
Any small step you take to achieve your goal is cause for celebration! Small steps such as reducing the amount of sugar in your morning coffee. Drinking water instead of soda or diet soda. Eating a piece of fruit for a snack instead of pretzels or chips. All of these steps are awesome progress! Remember, it took a long time to build your current routine. It will take time to create a new routine. A great way to celebrate is every evening, before falling asleep, think about the progress you made that day. Its a great way to celebrate success.
#3 PREPARE YOURSELF
Inevitably, something in your daily life will happen and it can trigger you to stick to your old routine. A business trip, a family gathering or boredom. Prepare yourself for this type of life event by thinking about how you can respond positively. For example, when on a business trip, ordering meals that are higher in protein and healthy fats, will reduce your likelihood that you will order something sugary. If you are bored, instead of sitting on the couch and reaching for food, stand up and walk in place. You can still watch the latest show in NetFlix without derailing your goals.
#4 GUIDELINES FOR EATING LESS SUGAR
A couple of tactics will help you achieve your goals of eating less sugar: drink more water, eat colorful foods and make sure to eat enough protein and healthy fats will support your goal of eating less sugar. Below are examples of what and how to eat during a typical day when reducing sugar is your goal.
MEAL AND DRINK EXAMPLES:
Drink Warm Lemon Water upon waking. This prepares the digestive tract for the day by providing necessary acid to the stomach to promote effective digestion. Squeeze the juice of a half of lemon into warm water. Wait 15 minutes after drinking before eating anything. If you are concerned with enamel on your teeth, simply swish warm water in your mouth and spit it out. The goal is to do this 7 days a week!
Smoothies for breakfast, lunch and snacks! Smoothies are a great way to get sweetness during the day and a ton of nutrients.
Plan for snacks. Snacks are OK! In fact, in the beginning of making a major change to an eating habit, having a mid-morning snack and/or an afternoon snack will help you avoid dips in blood sugar that may make you indulge in something unhealthy. Packing individual hummus cups and carrot sticks or a rice cake. An apple with almond butter. A cup of strawberries and almonds.
Eat balanced meals. Healthy fats, protein and complex carbohydrates are important to maintain healthy blood sugar levels. Meals that are mostly plant based with or without meat, fish or chicken, will give you this balance. If you are reducing meat consumption, use beans and grains such as quinoa, which is a complete protein, to keep you fuller longer.
I hope you enjoyed learning about sugar and how to stop craving it in your life. Once you've made the decision to make a change in your life, taking small steps every day is the best way to make progress. Maintaining your new routine is a marathon, not a sprint. Every day is going to have its challenges. If there is a miss in your new routine, that is OK! It just means to start the new routine again, as soon as you can. Making meaningful change in our lives is a process.
Do you think you will try to quit sugar? Let me know in the comments below.