15 May Sugar Ain’t So Sweet
Did you know that trading in one serving of a sugary beverage for a cool glass of H20, unsweetened coffee or tea reduces the likelihood of becoming diabetic between 14-25%?*
Pretty astonishing—I know. Once you see past the temporary sugar high, you realize the aftermath isn’t so sweet. Spikes in sugar can leave you crashing later, often accompanied by feelings of lethargy, depression and anxiety.
Why? As glucose increases, insulin levels plummet. As excess glucose enters your bloodstream, the insulin response becomes desensitized. A buildup of glucose resides in the blood, as its intended passage into our cells is hindered.
With too much glucose, that just won’t seem to peace out, the body begins to slow down: the metabolism can’t fire properly, our mood turns negative, and our cells store fat within our arteries, liver and of course, around our bellies and bottom. Not so visually appealing!
How do we go about this? It’s hard to rewire the brain, conquer our cravings and free ourselves of the vicious cycle of sugar addiction.
Check in with yourself: where is this craving coming from? Think of earlier or future plans for the day. Is something stressing you out? If so, put down the Snickers. Take a breather. Take a walk outside. Listen to an uplifting tune. Head to a friend’s desk at work for a chat. Text a buddy to share a funny Youtube clip. Distractions will boost your mood and take your mind off of food.
Or rather, did you skip a meal? Getting to the point of hunger desperation derails your ability to think clearly and make rational decisions. Make sure to always have healthy snacks on hand, ranging between 50-200 calories (depending on weight-loss goals, stick to the lower end) and packed with protein and complex carbs to provide sufficient, long-lasting energy.
Could you go for an apple instead? If you don’t care to eat something healthy instead, you’re not really hungry. Again, put down the Snickers. True hunger means that anything will do.
Find Healthier Substitutes
Crowd out the bad, and make room for the good. If you’re really craving that chocolate chip cookie around 3pm’s snack-attack effect, imagine something else scrumptiously, deliciously, chocolatey (with fewer calories). Picture a fruit cup with a square of melted dark chocolate. Melt a square in the microwave at work and dip away. Or, how about a double dark chocolate Quest protein bar? With 20g of protein, and 1-3g net carbs and sugar, you can bite away guilt-free.
Salty fix? Swap Lays chips for a bag of 100-150 calorie popcorn or a handful of pistachios. Here’s a trick: snack on in-shell pistachios to better manage your servings. Taking the time to work through the shells increases awareness as to the count. Leave the shells beside you so you can see for yourself!
Set Realistic Goals
Don’t stop cold turkey—by eliminating all sugar from the diet, you’ll be more likely to binge. Instead, take baby steps. Lose the sugar packets in your morning coffee and swap a bagel for a whole grain English muffin. You can still eat dessert! Perhaps a Greek yogurt with berries and a drizzle of honey? It will get easier!
The one caveat: it’s time to get rid of those sugary breakfast pastries and soft drinks, for good. If you really want a pastry one morning and you feel that you can enjoy it without the guilt, share with a friend or two.
Read the Labels
Avoiding processed foods in general is the best way to protect yourself from the pesky, sneaky ways that sugar gets into your body. It’s hidden in condiments, sauces, frozen foods, juices, and basically anything that is on the shelf! Combine that with sodium too, and your heart won’t know what to do with itself.
Monitor those portions and make sacrifices. If you want a square of dark chocolate during the afternoon, skip it at dinner. Avoid seconds on meals and don’t force yourself to clean the plate if your stomach feels full.
Allow yourself some pleasures. Make a Sunday brunch a splurge to look forward to, as a reward for being good during the week. On Sunday mornings, enjoy a serving of pancakes, French toast, a croissant, whatever it is. Sit back, relax and enjoy, without overdoing it.
Sweat It Out
A sweat session will help eliminate glucose and other toxins from the body, helping to ward off diabetes, heart disease and gut inflammation.
Get your heart pumping with a spin class or circuit training session. If the weather is nice, head out for a morning run. Keeping a regular routine is key to flushing sugar form the system.
Check The Mirror
Sugar equals acne. Bummer, right?
Pimples quickly reduce confidence and add unnecessary time to a morning makeup routine. Keep your skin glowing and feel good in your own skin by limiting sugar intake and adding in whole foods with vitamins A, E, C and lycopene to promote clear, tight skin.
Great sources include avocado, carrots, sweet potatoes, watermelon, tomatoes, beets, nuts & seeds and olive oil.
Banishing sugar is a struggle, so it’s helpful to have a friend on board. Weed out toxicity by removing yourself from negative, discouraging people and surround yourself with motivating, fun buddies who will work through that oh-so-bitter withdrawal with you.
Swap happy hours at your local Mexican joint for an exercise class or tea-date. If getting rid of alcohol seems impossible, have a glass of red wine, as red grapes are full of anti-aging antioxidants.
Keep A Daily Journal
Two kinds: a food journal and a life journal (they can combine to form one). Keep track of your food intake and notice where the sneaker additives appear. Stick to whole, unprocessed foods with limited sugar and sodium.
But, be honest with yourself. If you ate a cookie, right that shit down. Don’t hide it, don’t stress about it, just acknowledge it and plan to move on and do better.
Besides nutrition, write down three positive moments or feelings you experienced that day. Add in any goals you wanted to accomplish and did, anything you are proud of yourself for, anything that made you smile or laugh. Mark down your level of intimacy for the day: did you care for your body and share special moments with others?
Let your primary and secondary foods hold you accountable for this change!
Telling yourself “Ugh, I need sugar bad. This is so hard. I am deprived” will not help. Instead, stay positive. Think of the benefits of detoxing: how are your energy levels, how is your sleep, and mostly, how is your self-esteem?
Here’s a hint: your energy levels will skyrocket, your sleep will become restful, and your confidence will make you feel sexy, dominant, and able to conquer the day ahead.
Noting how impressive your exertion of willpower and progress is will drive you to keep pushing in order to reach your full potential. And if you encounter a setback? Don’t sweat it. Vow to start fresh right after removing those sugar crumbs from your face.
How is your sugar cleanse going? Please leave your feedback and encourage others to follow!
Isadora Baum is an ambitious and passionate Integrative Nutrition Health Coach who guides people on their journeys towards achieving personal goals and feeling their absolute best selves. She understands the need to live for oneself, and she helps build the confidence and resources required to find concrete happiness.