It’s been a little while since I’ve written, and that’s mostly because I’ve been bouncing around the idea of writing about sugar addiction and its side effects. It’s an important subject that’s slowly getting more press, but I feel a little hypocritical telling you all to quit sugar when I can barely do it myself. Anyone who follows me on instagram knows that I just baked a dozen cupcakes (that I will be sharing with my co-workers tomorrow, so that’s better right?). I don’t drink soda and I make sure not to buy foods with hidden sugar (we’ll talk about that later), but man I love my dessert. That doesn’t mean I can’t change, and I’m hoping you guys will help keep me motivated!
Let’s back up a little bit — why are we even talking about sugar addiction, and what is it exactly? Sugar has been likened to cocaine because of its highly addictive properties. Don’t believe me? Try going cold turkey for a few days and see if you don’t have some withdrawal symptoms. Sugar stimulates the part of the brain that release dopamine, making you feel great. But it only lasts so long, and that’s when the cravings kick in. It’s a never-ending cycle that eventually can lead to chronic fatigue and a host of health problems, including diabetes, decreased immune function, IBS, heart disease, ADHD, and many more.
Americans are eating over triple the recommended sugar intake (a mere 6 teaspoons). Once your liver is full of excess sugar, the rest is converted to fatty acids that enter the bloodstream and eventually get stored as abdominal fat.
Think you’re better off because you’re drinking diet soda or baking with splenda? Think again. Artificial sugars are actually even worse for you, if that’s possible. Many artificial sweeteners are proven neuro-toxins, causing damage to your nervous system that results in migraine headaches, depression and seizures. Consumption of these “pretend” sugars actually creates MORE sugar cravings than normal sugar. When you eat something sweet, your body anticipates the sugar and starts to create insulin and other hormones. But no sugar ever gets digested, leaving the body with this excess insulin. Cue the sugar cravings.
Kicking the Habit
So know you are armed with this knowledge and want to kick the sugar habit…where to start? The obvious answer is to throw out the cookies, soda and M&Ms in your cabinets, and this is a great start! But there are also many hidden sources of sugar. Many processed foods have been laced with the stuff because the processors know that it will keep you coming back for more. This means it’s also in your pasta sauce, baked beans, peanut butter, chips, and other foods that don’t even taste sweet! It’s also in items like toothpaste and cough syrup. You have to check your labels and make sure there is no sugar, high fructose corn syrup, cane sugar, glucose or any other form of sugar. Be careful; they are tricky! There is a good list of sugar aliases in this article:
While you won’t have to avoid sugar all together for the rest of your life, it is a good idea to detox for at least 10 days to get the stored sugar out of your system before allowing yourself a treat now and then. I’m going to start mine tomorrow! After the detox period, you will have to decide for yourself how often you can have sugar without getting hooked again. A good way to satisfy chocolate cravings is having a piece of super dark chocolate (at least 70%), or to incorporate cacao into a smoothie.
Post-detox you are going to feel amazing, full of energy, free from detox symptoms and cravings. So why go back? There are plenty of alternatives out there:
Stevia: a sugar substitute made from the leaves of the stevia plant. It is 300 times as sweet as sugar, so a little goes a long way, and it does not affect blood sugar. Comes in packets and as liquid. NOT to be confused with “Truvia” which goes through a 40-step chemical laden manufacturing process.
Agave: a syrup made from the Mexican agave plant. Agave does slightly raise your blood sugar. This is my favorite, but I try to use it in moderation.
Yacón: a syrup made from a yacon plant that grows in the central and northern Andes mountains. It tastes more like molasses, but does not raise blood sugar levels.
Have you tried kickin’ the sugar habit before? If so, I’d love to hear any strategies you have. You can use the comment box below this blog. We can use all the help we can get!
Until next time,
P.S. Most of this info is from Crazy Sexy Diet by Kris Carr and Beat Sugar Addiction Now! by Jacob Teitelbaum, M.D. Both great resources if you want to learn more! Picture from wechoosehealthy.com
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