Can everyone agree that those mittens united our nation for about 24 hours? I had so many LOLs from those damn memes. The creativity of the internet won the week. Pause to chuckle, then keep reading. The good stuff is below! Get a pen, you may want to take notes.
Now that we got a chuckle let me bring down the room and tell you I want you to quit sugar. Even if you don’t think you are consuming a lot, I challenge you to pay closer attention to how much you are drinking or eating. Why am I so mean? Because cutting sugar out of your diet (or reducing it significantly) can be one of the most effective ways to reset your tastebuds, crave less sugar, lose weight and prevent or slow chronic disease.
Today, the average American consumes 3 pounds (or 6 cups) of sugar consumed in one week! The American Heart Association recommends no more than 6 teaspoons of sugar daily for women and 9 for men. When I work with clients I hear often “I don’t really consume a lot of sugar”. That is often MOSTLY true, but since there are over 60 different names for sugar, you may have more in your diet than you realize.
Why is sugar so bad for us? Once sugar is in the bloodstream, it is broken into glucose and fructose. The glucose can be used for energy immediately or stored in the body to use later. If your body has glucose in store, it turns to fat, often adipose fat around your belly. According to Dr. Will Cole, fructose to its chemical makeup, it does not need to be digested by your body so it makes a beeline straight into your bloodstream, which can lead to insulin spikes that contribute to hormonal problems like leptin resistance, which in turn increases weight gain and weight-loss resistance.
When your body is continuously working to store sugar and release sugar you can build insulin resistance and set yourself up for pre or actual diabetes, weight gain, metabolic syndrome Alzheimer’s and a myriad of chronic health conditions. It can also affect your sleep, make you gain weight or hold onto belly weight, create acne and generally result in gut bacteria imbalances and inflammation.
Want to Detox from Sugar? The bad news is sugar is EIGHT TIMES more addictive than cocaine when studied in mice. You might actually detox the first 72 hours of cutting added sugar – I’m talking intense cravings for sweets or carbs, headaches, the grumps (technical term), depression, changes in sleep patterns and fatigue. It can take up to a month to fully feel the health benefit of cutting out sugar. Plan accordingly. I almost forgot the good news. After the first few days, the symptoms will ease. Food will taste better, your metabolism will kickstart and you may lose a pound or two.
Recipe for Success:
- Be realistic. Depending on how much of a sugar junkie you are, you may need to taper your approach. If you like to go big. Then go big and and cut it all at once.
- Start to read labels for hidden sugar, there are over 65 names for sugar, chemical sugars and “frankenfood” sweeteners! Any ingredient that has the word sugar, ends in -ose, or has the word syrup is a red flag. Look at the food labels, and check out the sugar amount, especially the “added sugar” amount. Then look to see where that sugar comes from. If it isn’t obvious it is probably a chemical sugar that is best to skip.
- Reduce or eliminate caffeine, consider adding a fat to your coffee such as grass fed butter, coconut oil or MCT. If you drink coffee keep your eye on the creamers (even plant based) and milks. There are often sugars in even the “healthiest food”.
- Stay hydrated – dehydration can actually cause sugar cravings.
- Manage stress, exercise and try to get 7 hours of sleep a night.
- Stay physically active.
- Eliminate fat free or low fat foods. These often have high sugar content to make up for the lack of fat.
- Cut the following high sugar foods:
- Sweetened drinks, soda, fruit juice, and energy drinks. *Kombucha (my fave) has a lot of sugar, consider cutting this out during your detox.
- Desserts like ice cream and baked goods.
- Artificial sweeteners – Splenda, Equal, NutraSweet, Sweet N’ Low are a No!
- No High Fructose Corn Syrup HFCS!!!
- High sugar fruit such as pomegranates, oranges, mangos, pineapples and cherries.
- Watch for sneaky sugar: plant milks, cured meats, deli meats, kombucha, Condiments (mustard, ketchup, BBQ), salad dressings, oatmeal packets, sauces, Granola or protein bars, canned soups, yogurt.
What the heck am I ALLOWED to eat (there are options, don’t fret!)?
- Naturally sweet vegetables to crowd out the sweet craving, sweet potatoes are a good one here!
- Consume lower glycemic fruits – avoid mangos, cherries, pineapples, oranges and pomegranate seeds. Choose lower sugar fruits such as low sugar fruits (Listed below).
- Eat foods high in protein and healthy fats (fat is also used for energy in your body).
- Increase your fiber as this makes us feel fuller longer (bigger molecules).
- Use lower glycemic and natural sweetener choices like maple syrup, stevia, monk fruit, dates and coconut sugar. Avoid artificial/chemical sweeteners. Depending on how serious you are, you may want to cut out natural sweeteners for a period of time as well.
- Plain or sparkling water, add some mint or slices of lemon or lime.
- Focus on your whole diet. Focus on whole, unprocessed foods like vegetables, fruits, beans, nuts, seeds, poultry, eggs, and seafood.
Suggestions for food and snacks:
- Fats like nuts avocado, walnuts, salmon and use coconut oil for cooking.
- Low glycemic fruits like strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, watermelon, kiwi and grapefruit
- Proteins like unsweetened Greek yogurt w/ berries & unsweetened coconut.
- Pumpkin and sunflower seeds
- Fresh cut vegetables with hummus or guacamole
- Almond flour crackers
- Nut butters
- Hard Boiled Eggs
Should you decide to reduce sugar, think about your best plan about how fast and how much you want to cut out. Everyone needs a little something sweet sometime, but when you do whole fruit is your best choice. If sweeteners are going to happen try to use coconut sugar, raw organic stevia, monk fruit, maple syrup, molasses, and dates. These are far better options than HFCS and sugar, but still should be used in moderation.
Good luck. And if you are irritable on Day 2 of no sugar. Scroll through the Bernie memes. They will still be funny for a bit longer.