Today is the 6th day of my no-sugar mission, and so far it’s going well - no headaches, no severe cravings and no tremendous mood swings.
Sugar really is an addictive substance. Research has shown that it
stimulates the same pleasure centers of the brain as cocaine or heroin. That’s scary! It’s not unusual to discover yourself feeling horrible a day or so into quitting sugar including reduced motivation, anxiety, fatigue, and cravings.
Is Sugar Actually That Bad?
Besides increasing your waistline, diets high in sugar are linked to an increased risk for type 2 diabetes, elevated triglycerides, heart disease, and low HDL (good) cholesterol levels. Sugar has also been associated with depression, migraines, poor eyesight, autoimmune diseases, gout, and osteoporosis.Add to this list the sugar crash. The high of a sugar rush is temporary, after a short while the crash sets in, making you feel lethargic.
If you have a nagging sweet tooth or intense cravings for sugar, I’d bet you weren’t born that way, but that your dietary habits created the sugar-craver you’ve become. The good news is that we can reverse this tolerance in just a couple of weeks by cutting out sugar. Once you have decreased that threshold, something that tasted perfectly sweet a few weeks ago, will begin to taste too sweet. Then you’re on the road to reducing your intake of the sweet stuff for good!
Here are some steps to take
Clean Out the Kitchen
Get rid of any sugary temptations at home and at work. “We can’t control all the environments we’re in. Read labels and donate unopened cans or jars to the needy.
Eliminate Sugary Beverages
The average American drinks nearly 40 pounds (a whopping 70,000 calories!) of liquid sugar per year. Gross! Sipping sweet, no-fiber beverages such as soft drinks, sweetened waters or coffee drinks, spikes your insulin levels and triggers cravings. Over a period two weeks, cut out all of these drinks. If plain water isn’t for you, sip seltzer water or unsweetened teas or coffee.
Quit the Junk Foods
Cakes, cookies, candy bars- get rid of them, including the secretly sugary fare such as granola bars. When possible, go for fresh food over processed snacks. First, identify the foods you have the hardest time avoiding and quit those first, one at a time. Over the next two weeks, edit out all sugary junk. Sub in fruit when your cravings start up.
I’ll continue to eat fruit because I love it and it’s delicious! But I never drink fruit juice. As you know, whole fruit includes the fiber of the flesh and also the naturally occurring fruit sugar. Currently I’m only eating lower fructose fruit such as berries, kiwi fruit and grapefruit, two servings per day. Fruit is the salvation of this process, so I highly recommend it.
Reduce Simple Carbs
After getting through the snacking, it’s time to address simple carbs, which act just like straight sugar in your body. Make a list of the refined foods you typically eat such as crackers, white breads, white pastas and again, reduce them one by one over the next two weeks. Try starting with pastas: Instead of making two cups of spaghetti, make one cup and top it with a protein-packed lean meat; the next time around, replace that remaining cup with a veggie such as spaghetti squash.
Discover the Hidden Sugars
This one's the trickiest and could take time to master. Because hidden sugars are, well, hidden, you could still be ingesting a lot more than you’re aware of. Keep a critical eye on ingredient labels on condiments, sauces, and salad dressings. Also, be leery of "sugar-free" offerings; many are packed with simple carbs instead.
It's all right to indulge every now and then, but keep tabs on your cravings. A slice of cake might be okay for one person, but it could push another person over the addictive edge. If a sweet snack leaves you yearning for more or, worse, bingeing, you'll know you're particularly vulnerable to sugar's powerful lure. The bright side is this: Once you've kicked the habit and your taste buds are back to normal, fruits will taste super-sweet and satisfying—and massive amounts of added sugar will taste like what they are: sickeningly sweet.
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