It’s probably safe to say by now that we all know sugar is bad for our health. But how can we beat sugar cravings for good?
Sugar is a sneaky, addictive substance and the break up isn’t always as easy as just making the decision to stop. That’s why we have to understand what it does to our biochemistry well enough to put an effective sugar-kicking strategy in place.
Did you know the average soda size in 1955 was only 7 ounces? How did we go from that to the Big Gulp at 128 ounces (that would be like 17 sodas in 1955!)?
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We got there because sugar is a highly addictive drug. Having just a little bit creates a desire for more and suddenly quitting causes withdrawal symptoms such as headaches, mood swings, cravings, and fatigue. [tweet_quote]Sugar addiction can cause health problems, and withdrawal symptoms like headaches and mood swings can make it worse.[/tweet_quote]
This addiction leads to a sick cycle of adrenal exhaustion, autoimmune conditions, digestive and mood imbalances, obesity, and diabetes,
It doesn’t have to be this way! You can break up with sugar, for good. You just have to evaluate your approach and take steps to shift your biochemistry with these 6 ways to lick the sugar habit. But before you do that, it’s important to know where we are all getting sugar from beside the usual suspects of cakes, cookies, and candy.
Sugar is also in almost all conventional (and even many natural) bread, canned vegetables, yogurt, pasta sauce, hummus, sauces, salad dressings, and unfortunately even baby food and baby formula. Educating yourself on all the different forms that sugar comes in on the ingredient list is a great start to build your road map of avoiding certain products.
REMEMBER, here are some sneaky ways to say sugar:
- corn syrup
- corn syrup solids
- high fructose corn syrup
- glucose/glucose syrup
- barley malt
- cane juice
- evaporated cane juice (crystals)
Now that that’s clear, let’s talk about the BREAK UP!
6 Steps for Beating Sugar Cravings
1: Reduce Caffeine
Coffee without breakfast in the morning is a recipe for a sugar craving disaster kind of day. You see, when we wake up (if we have healthy adrenal glands), we are supposed to secrete the stress hormone cortisol, which helps us start our day. Many of us are tired and under-slept, and therefore not producing enough cortisol, so we hit the coffee pot for a substance-induced “hit” of it.
Then this unnatural spike bathes our cells in cortisol and insulin can’t get in to feed them. When the cortisol bath wears off, our cells are screaming for insulin in the form of sugar to put out the “state of emergency” the body is experiencing. [tweet_quote] Cut back on caffeine to stop the cycle of needing sugar after a coffee-induced cortisol spike.[/tweet_quote]
So, if you must have your ceremonial cup of coffee upon waking, no problem, but have it with breakfast (and make your cup healthier by having it “bulletproofed” or “cowgirl” style with coconut oil and grass-fed butter). Make sure that breakfast contains both protein and healthy fat. Alternatively or additionally, switch to green tea to lower your coffee/caffeine intake or do half-caf/ half Swiss-water processed decaf cup of Joe to cut your caffeine dose slowly.
2: Drink Lots of Mineralized Water
Mineral deficiency causes sweet cravings and purified or reverse osmosis water often doesn’t contain (enough) minerals. The purification or RO process does a great job getting out the bad stuff we don’t want, but unfortunately it can also filter out the trace minerals, which are essential to fully hydrate us.
So, choose mineralized (not mineral) water whenever you can or if you drink RO water, pick up a bottle of essential trace minerals at your local health food store and add a few drops to each glass. A good general rule of thumb for water is to drink 1 liter or 34 ounces per every 50lbs of body weight daily. [tweet_quote] Mineralized water will slash sugar cravings and boost your digestion.[/tweet_quote]
Drinking enough of the right kind of water will slash cravings, boost energy, and do wonders for your digestive and immune system. Speaking of minerals, chromium is a wonderful mineral to use temporarily to stabilize blood sugar and stave off sugar cravings while detoxing.
I routinely recommend 200mcg of chromium gtf (glucose tolerance factor) with both breakfast and lunch for 4-6 weeks.
3: Get Cozy with Complex Carbohydrates
If you are a sugarholic, I challenge you to have 1 sweet potato with lunch everyday for five days and see how you do with sugar cravings. Paleo is a great, healthful diet, but I find a lot of super low carb, die-hard Paleo folks end up craving a lot of sugar. [tweet_quote] Blast your sugar cravings by having 1 sweet potato a day.[/tweet_quote]
Paleo doesn’t have to be low carb. In fact, if you are addicted to sugar, you need complex carbohydrates to slow the release of glucose in your blood stream to even out the spikes and dips that cause mood and energy imbalances and ultimately more sugar cravings.
I suggest have a complex carb with breakfast, lunch, and dinner regularly for at least a few weeks. Other examples of complex carbohydrates are butternut squash, parsnips, yams, and plantains.
4: Use Gentle Sweeteners and Spices
Ceylon cinnamon (keep in mind that the typical grocery store cinnamon is the cassia variety) has been clinically proven to stabilize blood sugar and to have a healing effect on the pancreas.
Adding cinnamon to your coffee, breakfast smoothie, sweet potato, or whatever else you can think of is a great way to gracefully detox from sugar. It tastes sweet and satisfies your taste buds.
My other favorite natural sweeteners to use sparingly that will give you that sweet flavor without the negative biochemical reaction in the body are dark liquid stevia, coconut sugar, raw honey, and maple syrup. Start upgrading the way you use sweeteners and soon you will crave less and less.
5: Cut Back on Animal Protein
Too much animal protein can create a “contracted” state as they say in Eastern medicine. The body then craves the opposite state, which is expansion. Sugar makes us feel that way.
When you think about it, the body never makes a mistake. It’s always craving to be in balance and works toward it the best way it knows how.
If you are eating animal protein with every meal, adjust that or maybe eat a bit less, and see if that helps. Alternatively, not enough animal protein creates sugar cravings. Evaluate how much animal protein you consume and begin to play with the amount to see how it affects your cravings and energy level.
6: Find Sweetness in Life
There is no replacement for enough sleep. If we don’t sleep enough, the body will, again, try to create a balanced state by craving sugar. Rest and relaxation are underrated in our culture.
Be counter cultural and take time to rest and rejuvenate. Getting enough exercise in the form of movement you enjoy (versus dragging yourself to the gym) is another way to naturally cut down on sweet cravings.
At The Whole Journey, we call these things primary food. They are things that feed us other than food in ways that food never can. They also include honest, open relationships with people you enjoy being around, having fun and working play into your life, having a creative outlet you enjoy, and doing things that make you feel connected to the bigger picture.
Adding in more primary food to your life is a sure fire way to get sweetness, guaranteeing you will never miss the actual sugar!
Have you been able to defeat sugar? Leave us a comment and let us know how!