Cut Sugar Cravings For Good With These Fast, Easy Tips
Perhaps this is your first attempt kicking sugar, maybe you’ve been following a low glycemic diet for some time. Years ago my diet consisted of two food groups (three if you count chocolate) refined carbs and sweets; I was both emotionally and physically hooked, I didn’t care for the taste or texture of fresh fruits and vegetables besides an occasional salad. Kicking sugar is one of the most difficult things I’ve done; these are some strategies I used in the beginning to reduce my cravings and a few things I do now to keep them away.
1. Introduce Healthy Fats
If we are set on kicking the sugar habit for good, it’s important to consider an alternate energy source. The addition of the right kinds of fats can boost brain function, keep you full longer and do wonders for your energy levels. The low-fat fad is quickly losing traction. More and more people are moving towards healthy saturated fats like coconut oil, monounsaturated fats like olive oil and EPA rich flax, hemp and chia seed oils. I have found a tremendous boost in energy and loss of sugar cravings by adding high quality MCT oil (in several of our chocolates) to my diet. Look for quality MCT oil that contains higher fractions of capric and caprylic acid which convert to energy faster than any other fatty acid found in coconut oil.
2. The Right Amount of Fiber, It’s important
Fiber is basically what our own digestive enzymes cannot break down in our food. It is now known that our gut bacteria can break down some types of fiber, fiber can actually feed beneficial microbes in our gut! Fiber is what helps us feel full and is an essential component to consider when attempting to control blood sugar and sugar cravings! Everyone’s digestive system is different and depending on where you are at in your journey you might require more or less fiber. I would include pectin on the top of my list as it is easily available in apples, pears, blueberries and other fruit. If you are avoiding fruit altogether, consider supplementing pectin or extracting your own from fruit. It is well known for its ability to lower cholesterol, fight diabetes, obesity and support proper digestive function. 35-40 grams per day is a great goal, many experts recommend upwards of 50 grams of fiber per day. Other great sources of fiber include:
-Avocados: Everyone knows avocados fix everything! Well, maybe not everything but in addition to high amounts of healthy fat, the average avocado contains 5 grams of fiber!
-Flax Seeds: Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine recommended flax seeds to his patients with gastrointestinal problems. Flax seeds are high in EPA and other omega 3 fatty acids, low in carbohydrates and a great source of soluble and insoluble fiber.
-Chia Seeds: Chia seeds are about on par with flax in omega 3 and fiber content. Try making chia seed pudding or using chia seeds as an egg replacement in your favorite recipe. Chia seeds are a great source of calcium, magnesium and protein.
-Acacia fiber: One of the most convenient sources of soluble fiber, does not thicken in smoothies and has a very mild taste. It comes from the sap of the acacia tree and is believed to have prebiotic (feeds beneficial bacteria) properties as well.
3. Choose The Right Alternative Sweeteners
Since the rise of sugar related disease, the options for low and non-glycemic sweeteners have skyrocketed. It is important to note that while sugar substitutes are useful tools to get off sugar, it is best to get to a point where you kick the habit of snacking on sweet foods in general. When you are at a friend’s house or traveling, you are much less likely to cave in to your cravings and eat something you may regret later. That said we all deserve to treat ourselves, what are our options?
Best (and worst) natural sweeteners.
Stevia: Glycemic Index : 0
Not all stevia is grown/processed equally. While green stevia leaf is the most natural, least processed of all, there are many extracts and modified forms of stevia to look out for. While few studies have actually confirmed this many people report all kinds of side effects ranging from headaches to joint pain from modified stevia and extracts containing unnecessary tagalongs. Another issue some people have with stevia is the aftertaste, stevia and stevia extracts that come from flowered stevia or stevia stems can have an extremely unpleasant bitter or lingering taste. By choosing certified organic whole leaf stevia products you are much less likely to experience an unpleasant after taste or bitterness.
Coconut Sugar: GI: 35
The jury is still out on this one. While the high mineral content of coconut sugar gives it a lower glycemic index, it contains up to 79% sucrose. Sucrose is half fructose (like high fructose corn syrup). This means coconut sugar contains up to 48% fructose; much like cane sugar. There still remains a debate whether or not coconut sugar is sustainable, the current methods used to tap coconut trees for their sugar make them unable to produce coconuts.
Raw Cane Sugar: GI: 65
Contribution to tooth decay and high fructose content are among the many risk factors associated with this traditional, yet overconsumed food. While less processed than some, its best to use this sweetener in moderation.
Xylitol: GI : 7
A sugar alcohol that does not cause tooth decay and is just as sweet as sugar. Look for birch derived over corn derived xylitol. While the side effects are rare, some people experience gastrointestinal discomfort when consuming xylitol, for that reason we prefer erythritol.
Maple Syrup: GI: 54
Maple syrup contains 35% fructose which ranks better than coconut sugar yet still bears a higher glycemic index. We love the mineral content and minimal processing. Maple syrup is also among the most sustainable of sweeteners; unlike sugarcane which is often a monocrop, maple trees thrive in the diverse ecosystems they are indigenous to.
Honey: GI: 30
Loaded with enzymes, vitamins and even some hydrogen peroxide, the benefits of honey are hard to pass up! With a lower glycemic index than coconut and maple sugar and lower fructose content raw honey is a great sweetener when consumed in moderation or as a remedy for sore throats and coughs.
Erythritol: GI : 0
The sweetener with a scary name but tons of potential benefits. Erythritol comes from a natural fermentation process, is almost as sweet as sugar, has no calories and a glycemic index of zero! Erythritol has been found to be non-carcinogenic, can act as an antioxidant and been found to not cause the gastrointestinal upset associated with xylitol. Look for erythritol that is certified organic or non-GMO.
Aspartame, Sucralose ect.
These sweeteners have no place in our food. Aspartame which is sold as equal, NutraSweet ect. has been studied for links to vision loss, brain tumors and much more. It is said to have been linked to 75% of all food related complaints with the FDA. Big food has made researching the long-term effects of this sweetener difficult. Sucralose or Splenda is made my chlorinating sucrose. It should be obvious that chlorine has no place in a nutrient dense, whole food diet. This process changes the sucrose to a form never before dealt with by the human body. Much like aspartame there has been no long-term research to determine its safety.
4. Get Alkaline Fast!
Eat your greens! Sugary foods make the body acidic. We want our blood and urine to stay alkaline or we are more likely to get weak and become sick! When we are acidic we are often less resilient to stress which can majorly affect our ability to control what foods we reach for to comfort us. Be one step ahead. As they say an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure! Try having a green juice or raw green soup with lots of lemon, cilantro and parsley daily to fight acidity. Hydrogen supplements like purative active h2 can be helpful for staying alkaline but are of little use if acid forming foods are being consumed.
5. Drink More Water!
Nothing activates every cell in your body, floods you with energy and balances your PH like drinking lots of good quality water! We recommend drinking structured water like spring water whenever possible! www.findaspring.com is a great resource for finding the best water the earth can provide. If you can’t get spring water in your area I suggest getting the best reverse osmosis filter you can find and adding ionic trace minerals back to the water; consider hydrogen supplements like Purative Active H2 or Dr. Patrick Flanagan’s crystal energy (another great product to add structure to water).
6. Don’t give up!
Sugar might be more addictive than cocaine! This makes things tricky because that makes sugar what I call a “socially acceptable addiction”. Your friends might have no clue why cutting sugar would be of any benefit. Surround yourself with as many supportive people as possible. If you slip, not all hope is lost. A day without sugar is a step in the right direction, if you keep powering on over time you will cheat less and in no time, you will likely feel so good you will never want to go back. The real goal is to feel so good that no amount of decadent sugary food is worth loosing your glow! I can honestly say that I feel so good most of the time now that no person, food or activity that does not keep me feeling the best ever tempts me at all anymore. You really can overcome your temptations! Feeling great all the time is THAT worth it!
If I can leave you with one last thing; nothing I say or do will ever be able to paint the picture of how amazing life without sugar can be, for me it was achieving levels of vitality I never thought was possible, I think the only possible way for you to understand what I am getting at is to try it for yourself. You got this!