Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Oh, sugar.

Quitting sugar is just plain silly. 

Why would anyone consciously give up sugar?  I mean, it’s TASTY.  Right?!   It makes all of our foods even yummier.  When we’re sick, when we go to the movies, when we go on vacation, when we celebrate holidays…sugar is always there to comfort us. What could be so bad about all that?

But there’s a dark side to sugar.  And I’m not talkin’ brown sugar. 

For starters, sugar is addictive. Studies have shown that sugar can be 8 times more addictive than cocaine. That alone should scare you, but wait, there’s more:

Sugar suppresses the immune system
Consuming too much sugar reduces the immune system’s ability to respond. White blood cells struggle to attack and destroy the bad bacteria in the body, even after just 75-100 grams of sugar. White blood cells can mistake sugar for vitamin C, due to their very similar chemical structures. As the cells pull the sugar into the blood stream (thinking it’s vitamin C), the blood gets over saturated with sugar and weakens the body’s natural immune function by 75%!

Sugar leads to heart disease 
Studies on sugar have now shown that it causes more heart disease than fat. It increases blood sugar, lowers HDL, raises cholesterol, and triglycerides and can increase inflammation, which is linked to heart disease. 

Sugar contributes to depression
Too much sugar can actually reduce the production of endorphins, leading you down a path to depression. Which is ironic, given that in the beginning you get a rush of endorphins and a mood boost from eating sugary foods. This is one way that sugar becomes addictive. It creates a vicious cycle of constantly looking for that endorphin rush, that never really lasts.

Sugar can age your skin
Collagen and elastin (what makes your skin young and elastic-y) are damaged when too much sugar is consumed. This leads to aging skin. No bueno. 

Sugar leads to tooth decay
9 out of 10 dentists weren’t foolin’.  Eat sugar, get cavities.  End of story. 

Sugar increases chances of obesity
Sugar tricks your metabolism and makes you want to eat and eat and eat.  Your usual hunger cues aren’t functioning properly and this leads to overeating and, therefore, weight gain, and eventually insulin resistance. 

And other fun stuff:
Sugar causes cellulite
Sugar causes mood swings
Sugar causes bone loss
Sugar raises insulin
Sugar feeds cancer

“It’s not the couple of teaspoons we’re stirring into our morning coffee, but the sweetened additives hidden inside processed foods — even the seemingly healthy, low-fat ones like cereal and tomato sauce — that we eat every day.” 
~ Dr. Mark  Hyman

Sugar is highly processed with absolutely no nutritional value at all.  The only single benefit you get from sugar is taste enhancement.  Unfortunately, white sugar is in everything and can be hiding in your foods under disguises like these:

anhydrous dextrose
brown sugar
confectioner's powdered sugar
corn syrup
corn syrup solids
high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS)
invert sugar
malt syrup
maple syrup
nectars (e.g., peach nectar, pear nectar)
pancake syrup
raw sugar
white granulated sugar
*source: choosemyplate.gov

The American Heart Association recommends only 100 calories a day (about 6 teaspoons) from added sugar (those not occurring naturally) of women, and men should have only 150 (9 teaspoons)  How much are you consuming?

Common hiding places for sugar:
Salad dressing, bread (even multi grain and whole wheat!), ketchup, spaghetti sauces, canned fruit, applesauce, granola bars, fruit snacks, muffins, instant oatmeal, yogurt, salsa, crackers, cereals, most processed foods and beverages. 

Ok, so you’re convinced that you want to give up sugar, now what?

Cravings and withdrawals are inevitable. It’s up to you how fast and dirty you want to do this.  If you trust yourself, and you’ve got amazing will power, then you just go ahead with your bad self and go cold turkey.  Watch for at least 2-3 days of sluggishness,  headaches, crabbiness and possible flu-like symptoms, depending on your level of previous sugar consumption. But, if you’re more like me, and you’re a big wimp, go ahead and baby-step into this. Pick the number one thing that you definitely think you’ll struggle with giving up (for me that’s my cup of hot black tea with milk and 2 teaspoons of sugar, for you that may be one piece of dark chocolate a day) and just allow that one thing for now.  Be extra cautious of all the other sources of sugar, and avoid those.  Then, gradually, as you feel stronger, start to reduce your sugar to completely zero.  This may take you a few weeks, to two months to do, but whatever keeps you going towards your goal is good enough for me.  

Tips on curbing those cravings:

Cravings are normal!  And sometimes they are more of an emotional response than a biological response.  We are attached to foods because they make us FEEL good. They comfort us and remind us of a happy time in our lives.  By taking out sugar, you may feel like your security blanket was taken away, too.  So, instead of turning to sugar, reach for higher fatty foods instead.  And I don’t mean french fries or chips. I mean the healthy fats. The fat tricks our bodies and minds into thinking we’re getting something “bad” for us, so it fulfills the emotional need, but doesn’t send us over the edge metabolically, like sugar does.  Good fats are critical for hormones and cellular development, makes you feel full, and are great for complexion, so it’s a total win-win.  

Good fat examples:
Nut butters
Coconut oil
Coconut butter
Olive oil
Walnut oil
Hempseed oil
Grapeseed oil
Fatty fish
Full fat greek yogurt
Full fat goat cheese/blue cheese
Full fat, organic/raw milk

*Pay attention to your cravings.  If you find you’re craving chocolate specifically, you may actually have a magnesium deficiency.  Some nutritional deficiencies can trigger specific cravings.  Just note what you’re craving, and keep an eye on it.  

Sweeten your foods naturally, with these options:
Cinnamon. Specifically vietnamese cinnamon, can give you the sense that you’re eating something sweet. Add it to green apples, oatmeal, salads, yogurt…anything you want!

Berries. These can be mashed and/or heated to add as a topping to cereals, waffles/pancakes, homemade ice cream, etc. They really add a nice sweetness, without any guilt.

Dates. I especially love the medjool kind for some reason. They’re so nice and fat. You can blend them up in a smoothie, or puree with some nuts for a quick energy ball. They are high calorie though, so if your goal is to lose weight, go easy on these.

Licorice Root tea. Licorice root is naturally sweet and the tea is especially nice during the colder months.

Stevia. This is a naturally occurring sweetener.  I am not a huge fan of the aftertaste, but some people don’t mind, and depending on brand and kind (it comes in both powder and liquid) it can be tolerable.  Give it a try and experiment with it, you might find it works for you.

Coconut butter. One of my favorite snacks. It’s very mild and nutty with just the right amount of sweet. I may or may not eat it by the tablespoon.  But it’s so full of lots of healthy fat and fiber that you can add it to anything without feeling like you’re cheating!

100% organic maple syrup. I love adding this to salad dressings or drizzling on nuts and baking for a sweet snack.

Raw organic honey. Not only does this lightly sweeten your foods, it has antibacterial, antiviral and antifungal properties. 

Yacon. This is a lovely sweetener that reminds me a little of molasses. It’s a great alternative and helps support digestion and regulate blood sugar! It’s also a good source of prebiotics and has been shown to aid in weight loss!  

Coconut Sugar. It has a much lower glycemic index than white sugar. It also has a unique flavor and is great for when you need just a little more sweetness.  It adds some nutrients such as iron, calcium, potassium and zinc, which is bonus. 

9 steps to sugar-free!
1. Plan ahead - Giving up sugar can be stressful and difficult, so timing is important.  Most people start diets on Mondays, but I don't really recommend that for giving up something like sugar. You will have withdrawals (fatigue/headaches, etc) and you may not want to go through that if you work and want to keep your job.  Starting on a weekend when you can rest and get some support might be best!

2. Eat a ton of veggies - the fiber will keep you full, plus all the benefits from the nutrients you’ll get. Fill at least half your plate with veggies, and focus on the green kind!

3. Drink lots of water - drinking water keeps you full, but also hydrates you and flushes out toxins. Add lemon, mint or cucumber for something different. 

4. Try new sugar-free recipes - don’t get bored. Try new recipes and experiment. 

5. Get a support group - going it alone is no fun! And you’ll have a higher chance of succeeding if you have others to lean on.

6. Start your day right - don’t skip breakfast, and try to eat as close to waking up as possible.

7. Remind yourself WHY you wanted to quit - you’re doing this for a reason. Don’t give up!

8. Don’t let yourself go hungry - eat 5-6 smaller meals a day to keep you from caving in.

9. Exercise  - the endorphins you get from exercising can help replace those you used to get from sugar. Plus the added bonus of burning calories, of course. 

If all else fails…..pray.  <3 

*source: Doreen Virtue

Here are some great recipes to try:
Super Thick Strawberry Milkshake

Mocha Banana Frappuccino (vitamin D is optional)

Food Babe's "Valentine Kisses" (can be made any shape. does have maple syrup)

Sugar Free Lemon Poppyseed Granola

1 comment:

  1. 3 Studies PROVE Why Coconut Oil Kills Waist Fat.

    The meaning of this is that you literally burn fat by consuming coconut fat (in addition to coconut milk, coconut cream and coconut oil).

    These 3 studies from big medical journals are sure to turn the traditional nutrition world upside down!