There is something so satisfying about eating a sweet treat. The moment it hits my taste buds, it is delicious, indulgent and comforting. It makes me want more. I love the feeling of satisfaction and happiness that comes with eating something sweet. The pure pleasure that I get is amazing. It is a reward for all I do at work, in my life and relationships. Can you relate?
I'm sure you can! But would you be shocked to know that my sweet treat is a Medjool date? That's right! Its not a cookie, a piece of cake or a slice of pie (although those all have their time and place). I eat a Medjool date as a sweet treat almost every day. If you haven't ever had one, it is a must try!
I have been very lucky over the years to have only experienced a few major health issues. Each one that occurred, I worked on healing naturally, even before I became a Holistic Nutritionist! Don't get me wrong, if I need pharmaceuticals for a short term situation, I will take them. But long term pharmaceutical use is not a solution for me.
Why does a Medjool date bring me the pleasure that most people would say is reserved for a cupcake? Because I limit the amount of sugar I eat and drink to maintain my good health. I know eating sugar feeds the bad bacteria in my gut, causes inflammation throughout the body and can trigger major health issues such as Type 2 Diabetes.
Quitting sugar is HARD! The truth is sugar addiction is real. The average American eats 17 teaspoons of sugar every day. That totals 57 pounds of added sugar, each year, per person. (Source: Sugar Science) What is the daily sugar allowance? The USDA recommends adults only have 10 teaspoons of sugar a day. (Source: USDA)
Why is it so hard to quit sugar? The truth is sugar makes us feel good. There are numerous reasons we eat sugar. I shared earlier that a sweet treat for me is about rewarding myself. I am sure a lot of you can relate. Other reasons quitting sugar is so hard are the memories and connection to good (or bad) times.
How many holiday gatherings do you attend that have sugar before, during and after the event? Alcoholic or non-alcoholic drinks are served and are full of added sugar. Appetizers, snacks, side dishes (sweet potatoes topped with marshmallows) and finally dessert. Don't forget the coffee with flavored creamer!
How many break-ups or disappointments did you drown yourself in sorrow by eating a 1/2 gallon of ice cream all by yourself? How many good weeks of following a strict food plan led to a weekend of binging as a reward? Then you feel horrible about yourself and realize, it is Monday morning and the cycle has to start all over again. The emotional rollercoaster should be enough for us to quit sugar, but it is not.
Enough is enough. We’ve lost our way. And we’ve lost our health.
Over half of us live with chronic disease. Lifestyle disease. Disease of our choosing. Diseases such as Type 2 Diabetes and heart disease from eating foods that are high in sugar.
It needn’t be this way. It shouldn’t be this way. I believe it’s time to turn things around.
Starting today. We’re designed to be healthy and happy. And while lifestyle can be our downfall, it can also pick us back up, give us a second chance. Bottom line. Are you sick and tired of being sick and tired?
It’s time for an intervention. Let’s work together to reverse lifestyle disease.
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.
QUITTING SUGAR BENEFITS
Is it healthy to quit sugar? YES. Eating large amounts of sugar every day not only results in weight gain, but also diabetes, heart disease, liver problems, digestive health disorders, cancer, memory loss and cognitive decline. (Source: Sugar Science) Does sugar cause inflammation in the body? YES! Sugar releases pro-inflammatory substances in the body. This can cause insulin resistance, joint pain and increases LDL, the bad cholesterol in our body. By quitting sugar you can avoid serious illness and disease.
The thought of just avoiding disease and illness should be enough for anyone to quit sugar. So why is it so hard? Because sugar releases dopamine in our bodies, which makes us feel really good. When we try to quit sugar, symptoms of depression, anxiety and even increased aggression may occur. Feeling bad is never pleasurable so we go back to eating sweets to avoid feeling this way. (Source: Psychology Today)
HOW TO QUIT SUGAR
There are a variety of thoughts about how to quit sugar. One philosophy is quitting sugar cold turkey. This is very difficult and will result in negative withdrawal symptoms. I would never recommend anyone taking this approach because it is unlikely that it would work long term. Instead, a moderate and slow approach creates a lifestyle that is manageable for a very long time.
Did you know that your taste buds adapt to new eating patterns in just 14 days? That's right. If you started today to reduce how much sugar you are eating or drinking, in just 14 days, your taste buds will adapt to the new reduced sugar habit you created. Here are some ideas on how to reduce how much sugar you are eating:
If you are eating sugary foods that mostly come in a box every day and at every meal, start with reducing sugar at one meal every other day. Instead of eating a side dish that comes in a box, make a salad or vegetables to eat instead.
If it is snack time and you want to eat something sweet, eat a piece of fruit instead of a cookie.
If you drink soda every day, swap one serving of soda with a glass of water. If you need it to be flavored, add a lime or frozen berries to flavor it.
By making swaps every day in little ways, you are training your body not to crave the sugar you normally eat. This approach will take time. But the slower you go, the more likely you will be successful. Unfortunately, we live in a world where we want instant gratification. Quitting sugar is not something that can be done in one week or even 30 days.
Living a reduced sugar lifestyle, is just that, a lifestyle. It is a choice that becomes so much easier over time as the body is weaned off sugar. As you are learning how to reduce sugar, reading food labels becomes very important. Why? Because sugar is in EVERYTHING!
HOW TO READ FOOD LABELS
If you are going to buy food that has a Nutrition Facts label, learning where sugar hides is very important. On the back of the package, there will be a table that shows an entry for added sugars. This may have a value or it may show zero.
Sugar that has been added to processed food and beverages happens during preparation, manufacture, processing, or packaging. The sugar in this entry is derived from cane, beet, and corn. There are at least 61 different names for sugar listed on food labels. These include common names, such as sucrose and high-fructose corn syrup, as well as barley malt, dextrose, maltose and rice syrup, among others. (Source: Sugar Science) Reading the Nutrition Facts can be a real eye opener and very helpful when quitting sugar.
TYPES OF SUGAR
At this point, you are probably wondering what sugar is OK to eat. A question I get a lot is Can you eat fruit when quitting sugar? The answer is YES! Do not be afraid of fruit. The only people who need to think about sugar in fruit are those who have diabetes or a specific digestive health issue that makes eating fruit an unpleasant experience.
If you do not have diabetes or a known digestive health issue, and you are wondering how much sugar is in a banana, because you heard sugar in fruit is bad for you, stop wondering and eat the banana! Fruit contains a lot of healthy ingredients beyond natural sugar. Fiber, antioxidants, vitamins and polyphenols are part of fruit and help the body get key nutrients it needs.
WHAT IS THE HEALTHIEST SUGAR TO USE
Quitting sugar is a great goal for a healthy lifestyle. But you will still need some sugar in your life. It is recommended that women have 6 teaspoons a day and men have 9 teaspoons a day. When grocery shopping, the variety of sugars available to buy can be confusing and overwhelming. Here is the research on a few sugars that are found in the sugar aisle:
STEVIA. A study in mice showed that steviol glycosides (the active part of stevia) delayed the development of insulin resistance and increased the response to insulin. It was found that stevia stimulates a protein that’s involved in the release of insulin after a meal. (Source: Today's Dietician) This means better overall blood sugar levels and no spikes of blood sugar when using stevia as a replacement for sugar.
SPLENDA. A 2020 study published in the journal Cell Metabolism by a group of Yale researchers found that consuming the common artificial sweetener sucralose (found in Splenda, Zerocal, Sukrana, SucraPlus) in combination with carbohydrates can turn a healthy person into one with high blood sugar. (Source: Center 4 Research) This means Splenda is not a smart choice as a replacement for sugar.
TRUVIA. While Truvia contains stevia, it also contains erythritol and natural flavors. Erythritol is a sugar alcohol produced from fermentation. The issue with this product is it may cause bloating, gas, diarrhea and cramps in some people. If you want to use stevia as a sugar replacement, buy the plain stevia to avoid having a negative experience.
In my opinion, using plain old stevia is worth the investment when you need to use sugar. It is very sweet so you do not need to use a lot of it. Of course, you can still experiment and find what works for you!
Quitting sugar is very hard and sugar addiction exists! Food manufacturers want you to love eating their products so they make them taste delicious so you keep buying more. Eating massive amounts of sugar, such as eating 56 pounds a year, is harmful to our health. You can develop diabetes, heart disease and digestive health disorders, which can stop you from enjoying life.
To quit sugar, take a slow and steady approach. This will help avoid withdrawals and create lasting change that fits a busy lifestyle. It only takes 14 days for taste buds to adapt to a new eating routine. Do you think you will start reducing the amount of sugar you eat? Let me know by leaving a comment below.