Sugar is one of the hardest things to cut from a person’s diet and often why it is likened to coming off hard drugs. To be honest, many times it is just as hard as coming off hard drugs and the side effects of doing so can feel just as bad for some people. There is no doubt that sugar is a drug, because so many people are addicted to it and cannot live without it. It is an addiction on epidemic proportion and it is causing so many health issues for us as a population.
So how do you get rid of it out of your diet?
Well, firstly, we need to recognise that the body does need small amounts of sugar, but it needs to come from whole foods and not be refined, or from processed sugars. Secondly, we need people to read the back of packets of food they are buying and start to see how much additional sugar they are getting in their diet. Lastly, we need people to recognize that no matter what sugar substitute they use (honey, dates, dried fruits, splenda etc) it is still sugar and it still reacts in the body the same way. Sugar is sugar and we need people to recognise this. People have this perception that using dates, honey etc in their foods, makes the food more healthy and OK to eat. Nothing could be further from the truth. Sweets and still treats no matter what form they come in.
We also need to get people to look at what they are eating and see if you are eating a well balanced diet. Oftentimes, people crave sweets and sugar because their diet is too low in protein and fresh fruits and vegetables. In addition, if you are eating a lot of refined and processed foods and sugar you will crave more sugar as the sugars burn off and then you hit a sugar low.
Here are some helpful tips to reduce added sugar intake:
- Always start your day off with protein. Whatever you start your day with, regulates your sugars for the rest of the day. If you start your day with sugar (cereals, toast, sweet things, and high GI carbs) then your day will be one big sugar ping pong session. Starting your day with protein helps regulate your sugars and stops those sugar cravings throughout the day.
- We need to make sure that every meal on snack has protein with it. We also need to make sure we have at least 2 handfuls of nuts and seeds per day, two tablespoons of healthy oils per day and have two servings of fruit per day. Especially berries, green apple, oranges etc. You also need to be eating 3 cups of vegetables per day (including salads). You should be drinking at least 8 glasses of water per day and also adding some electrolytes to your water at least once per day to help stop dehydration.
- Omit all sweetened beverages. Just stop drinking them and go cold turkey. You can also just start replacing them daily. Replace with water, coconut water, sparkling water or herbal teas. Make up jug of water with some lemon and mint and keep it in your fridge. The lemon and mint add flavour to the water, but they also have health benefits too.
- If you add sugar to coffee or tea, slowly cut down the amount that you put in by half each time until you find you no longer need it. You can also start by adding Rapadura sugar to your coffee, or tea (which is unrefined sugar cane juice that is crystallised and not as sweet, or processed as refined sugars). You can then slowly reduce this.
- Replace sugary foods with real whole foods such as fresh fruits and vegetables.
- Don’t skip meals. This is where most people go wrong and when their sugars and energy levels get low; their body then craves to be topped up. Unfortunately many people make the wrong choices in what they then eat. It is important to make sure you eat at regular intervals throughout the day to keep your blood sugar stable. People should be eating 5 small meals per day and eating every 3-4 hours to ensure they maintain their energy levels and stop sugar fluctuations and sugar cravings.
- Add spices and herbs to your foods and cut out the refined sauces. Use spices and herbs such as pepper, cayenne pepper, parsley, basil, oregano, turmeric, ginger, garlic. Any spice or herbs you can think of.
- Make sure you exercise at least 3-4 times per week, but if you can start your day with some sort of movement, this will help with your metabolism and sugar cravings too. It will also help maintain healthy weight and keep your body healthy too.
- Eat whole foods and omit as many processed foods as possible.
- Make sure you are getting enough sleep. Aim to get between seven and eight hours of sleep each night. If you are sleep deprived, your body will crave more sweets/sugar. When the body is tired, it just wants sugars and to fuel up quickly.
- Take some sugar regulating herbs and supplements. Supplements such as chromium and herbs such as cinnamon help with controlling blood sugars too.
- Take a Prebiotic and Probiotic daily to help with god gut health. With good gut health, you won’t crave sugars as much either.
If you need help with controlling sugar craving, or wanting to know how to cut sugar from your diet, then please give us a call and make an appointment to help you get your diet and health back on track now