Crush Your Sugar Addiction and Watch Your Health Improve

sugar addiction

Unsplash-Sharon McCutcheo

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Sugar addiction grips many people in America, so you are not alone in your struggle.  Most of us either walk around with a sugar buzz or anticipate our next opportunity to score a sugar fix. When we douse our morning brew with our favorite flavored creamer, we awaken the sugar beast. As the day progresses, the fight continues between our sugar-addled taste buds and the sugar beast. The food industry helps to feed our inner sugar beast with refined foods like bread, condiments, snacks, lunch meats, and beverages.

I think we can all agree that sugar does not contribute to our health. Would you like to heal your body from the harmful effects of sugar? Take the next right step toward investing in your health. Implement some or all of these strategies to help you manage your sweet tooth (sugar addiction).

How Sugar Addiction Begins

Take a minute to recall the last time you attended a wedding or dinner party. What attracted your attention as you circulated the food table? If we are honest, the hummus and veggies pale in comparison to the frosted creation tempting us to skip dinner and race at break-neck speed to grab dessert. How did our love affair with sugar start? Dr. Sherry Pagoto explains that the amount of sugar we crave has been conditioned by the food industry, our early family experiences, and our food choices.

A warm feeling envelopes me when I recall early morning childhood breakfasts of Frosted Pop Tarts with the lovely rainbow sugar crystals sprinkled on top like pixie dust. I washed the main course down with a tall glass of Tang or frozen concentrated orange juice. After happily finishing every morsel, I skipped off to school. As an adult, I shake my head when I look back at those fond sugar laced memories to where I am today with my breakfast routine. For years, though, I associated breakfast with refined carbohydrates and processed foods.

What Sugar Does to Your Body

Until my diagnosis of acute Lyme Disease, I thought I maintained a healthy diet. After my diagnosis, I needed to subdue the disease with my fork. My diet needed to radically change which meant paying close attention to my daily intake of sugar. Honestly, even before my diagnosis, I didn’t battle with a sweet tooth, but my diet contained sugar from inconspicuous sources like ketchup, pasta sauce, yogurt (even healthful yogurt).

Sugar disrupts the healthy environment of your gut bacteria. Remember our gut consists of a balance of “good bacteria and “bad” bacteria. Think of the bacteria like a truce between the Hatfields and the McCoys, a delicate co-existence that we do not want to disturb. A diet full of refined sugars fuels the bad bacteria until a war with the good bacteria ensues.

Sugar also promotes inflammation in the body. Inflammation is a vital part of the body’s immune response. It is the body’s attempt to heal itself after an injury; defend itself against foreign invaders, such as viruses and bacteria; and repair damaged tissue.”

Crush Your Sweet Tooth Tutorial

1.  Become Aware of Why You Reach For Sugar

What’s driving your taste buds to the sweets? Stress, hormonal imbalance, or digestive issues (a.k.a. gut issues) elevate your desire for sugar. What is going on in your life at the time the sweet tooth demon appears.

Dr. Tracy Davenport specializes in nutritional awareness, stress management, long-lasting change, and digestive wellness; she offers valuable insight regarding what pushes us to reach for sugar:

“We used to think that breaking habits was a simple as just doing something new for 21 days. However, as we know with smoking and now the opioid crisis, there are often many physical and emotional factors at play when it comes to changing behavior. With sugar consumption, there are emotional factors at play as well as physical factors. Emotionally, we may not be really interested in giving up sugar because it tastes good and it gives us energy, even for a short period of time. It may also remind us of happy times from our childhood like eating ice cream sandwiches and cookies. There are also physical factors at play, especially if we are consuming high fructose corn syrup and our body is not registering it or digesting it in a way that tells us we are full.”

Prevention magazine editorial director Anne Alexander recommends “the first step to breaking that emotional connection to sugar is to become aware of the feelings that drive you to it. As you stand in line to order your morning coffee, consider why you have a stare down with the glazed doughnut. If you are hungry, then scan the menu for real food options.

2. Be Aware of Potential Triggers

Certain restaurants or activities may heighten your desire for sugar.  For example, some people need to buy a box of candy every time they go to the movie. If you are trying to kick the sugar habit, does this mean you refrain from going to the movies?  Maybe, for a while until you get your sugar cravings under control.

While you are crushing your sugar addiction, consider bringing a treat to social events. Reach for snacks made in nature that are high in protein and healthy fats like raw trail mix.

My lifelong Lyme protocol restricts the amount of sugar I consume. If I go to the movie, I call ahead and explain that I have a dietary restriction which the theater concession cannot accommodate. Then I ask if I may bring my food? Every time they say “yes.”

The most challenging place to resist sugar is at a family or church function. I encourage you to start bringing desserts sweetened with real food, nature-based ingredients like dates, honey, maple syrup, or stevia.

3. Extinguish Your Soda Habit

Whether you drink diet soda or the sugar-fueled regular soda, there are no nutritional benefits in the beverage.  Instead of drinking soda switch to plain sparkling water and add pureed fruit, sliced fruit, or fresh herbs.  Sparkling waters like La Croix are tasty beverages without added sugar. These serve as a healthful transition or substitute for soda.

4. Learn Positive Ways to Manage Stress

  • Pray
  • Journal-the next time you have a few quiet minutes, take some time to consider what prompted your sugar craving. When a craving for double chocolate cupcakes emerges, journal your thoughts using just keywords, not complete sentences (because you want to get your thoughts down as quickly as possible).
  • Healthy Behaviors (exercise, join an online real food community, take a real food cooking class)


Thrive Market

5. Prepare an Emergency Snack Stash

(Use a Thrive Market Membership to shop for emergency snack supplies)

Plan for the unexpected by creating an emergency stash of real food to use instead of a high priced grab-n-go snacks from the gas station.

Possible Snacks to Use:

Non-refrigerated Snacks

  • Larabars, RX, Epic snacks
  • Raw Trail Mix, raw nuts, and dried fruit
  • Nut Butters (no-sugar) some supermarkets have a kiosk where you can grind your nut butter. Pair the nut butter with fruit
  • Canned Tuna Kits
  • On the Go Olive kits

Perishable Snacks

  • cold-pressed juices, kombucha, bottled smoothies
  • fruit, cut veggies
  • salsa, hummus kit, guacamole kit
  • Date Truffles

6. Sugar Detox

Among other foods, the Whole30 Program eliminates sugar from your diet.  After doing the Whole30, many people “reported the elimination of sugar cravings and a healthier relationship with food, allowing them to pass up desserts and sweets they used to find irresistible.”

Use my habit tracker and journal printable to help you monitor reach your goal to go “no processed sugar” for a month.

7. Add Protein to Your Breakfast

Restructure your breakfast menu.  If you normally eat sugary cereal for breakfast, try a breakfast bowl filled with vegetables and protein to fuel up your body.

sugar

8. Avoid Artificial Sugar

Aspartame (NutraSweet, Equal, Spoonful, and Equal-Measure) is a chemical. This artificial sweetener is not the new kid on the sugar substitute block. The powdery sweetener is the subject of food controversy.

Play it safe by using a real food barometer: is the food in question sweetened by nature, if not, then avoid the food.

Rabidly Read Labels for Added Sugar

Food manufacturers insert sugar in the most unlikely foods. As a responsible consumer, read your food labels to avoid unnecessary sugar.

Reward Yourself

After successfully reaching your no-sugar goal, reward yourself with a non-food treat. Determine what your reward will be before you begin your no-sugar habit and record it in a journal or on a habit tracker. Maybe a movie or a new a book motivates you?

Get Your Sugar From Nature (in moderation)

Dates

Raw Honey

Stevia (Stevia extracts and stevia leaf NOT Truvia or any form of powdered stevia. 

Maple Syrup

Coconut Sugar

Get the Monkey Off Your Back

A necessary change in your eating habits is imminent.  You know that. Change is scary and hard; I know that too.  You don’t have to do it alone. Connect with a group of people who will encourage you during this challenging time. Join my holyandhealthyliving Facebook group and post your progress. We will high five you, pray for you, or offer you the next right step. Decide to blaze a new trail in healthy living by kicking your sugar addiction or sweet tooth habit.

 

Combat Lyme Disease With Nutrition-Part One of a Series on Lyme Disease


2 Comments

  1. Lisa Simcoe on July 19, 2018 at 2:33 pm

    Great information, I cut out sugar a longtime ago and I can not even believe all they ways they hide it under different names and in things it doesn’t even need to be in.

    • Denise Sultenfuss on July 19, 2018 at 3:30 pm

      It is so true how food manufacturers trick our palate into thinking it needs sugar.

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