16 Feb FREE Advice on Breaking Sugar Addiction
It is no secret that there is a strong link between quitting sugar and effective weight management. But the benefits of giving sweet poison the boot extend far beyond this. I have previously shared how more and more scientific studies show the strong causal relationship between sugar and disease.Not only is sugar demolishing your good gut bacteria, thyroid conditions are on the rise, metabolic syndromes are skyrocketing and autoimmune and inflammatory disease is affecting more people than ever. You are about to overcome your sugar addiction.
In this post, I will give you tips and tricks that I use with my clients in my health coaching practice to help them break free from the grasps of sugar addiction and reclaim their health. Like my clients, you too can start creating lasting change by downloading your own FREE Nutrition Starter Pack which includes resources I use with my health coaching clients every day.
You and I are no different you know, I was once like you. I ate nutella from the jar, I purchased a pack of pick-n-mix lollies every day at 3pm and on the weekends my husband and I would demolish a whole packet of Maltesers as we stared at the TV screen like zombies. The difference between then and now, is that I have gone on to learn about the possible adverse effects of sugar addiction that could be on my horizon. In part 2 of this series, I explained just how excessive sugar consumption negatively impacts our health and wellbeing in general. This post will provide you with helpful and actionable advice that you can apply starting today.
Step 1 – Commit to at least 8 weeks of sugar detoxification
If you can get through 8 weeks, you will see so many positive effects that it will be hard to go back to your old ways. Sarah Wilson of ‘I Quit Sugar’ shares how after 2 weeks your skin starts to change. At around 3 weeks, your taste buds start to adjust to reduce their reliance on sugar in meals. By the 4th week, your body has begun to detoxify and remove some stores toxins. At 6 weeks, your appetite mechanisms change and and you experience true hunger (not hormone imbalance hunger) and true satiation (knowing what it is like to be full – for real!)
Step 2 – Remove all sugar and processed foods from your house
I have a great time running a pantry makeover with clients. They are surprised to observe that 80-90% of processed foods have sugar hidden within them. My advice is to bin all juices – sorry but when you remove fibre from a fruit, you are left with nothing but the sugar. Toss low fat diary – all that food companies have done is add sugar to enhance the flavouring that you lost when taking out the fat (which is very good for you). Artificially sweetened alternatives are off the cards too – more on that later. Dump sauces immediately – tomato, barbeque and some salad dressings contain high amounts of sugar or artificial sweeteners. Dress salads with olive oil, vinegar and citrus fruits like lemon and lime. Alongside all your condiments, many processed carbohydrate products (think baked goods, white pastas, breads, potato chips etc) all have a high glycemic index which means they spike your blood sugars just like a chocolate bar would – opt for a complimentary amount high fibre whole grains and root vegetables instead.
Step 3 – Start small and cut back gradually
If you are someone who is highly addicted to sugar and are grabbing at it all day, everyday – going cold turkey may not be feasible. I encourage my clients to start by reducing their sugar a little every day or two. If you like 2 sugars in your tea or coffee, go to 1. Additionally, if you drink soft drink, try diluting half of it with natural mineral water. Eventually progress to mineral water flavoured with citrus fruit and/or a natural sweetener like stevia. Another suggestion is to reduce your “treats” from once a day to once every 2 days and work your way backwards from there
Step 4 – Learn how to read a food label
It is recommended that adults eat no more than 4-6 teaspoons of sugar a day – that’s around 20-30 grams. Personally, I aim for no more than 2 tablespoons (10g) and this comes from low sugar fruit and sweet vegetables on some days. During our sessions, I teach clients to read food labels and ensure that the sugar content is below around 5g per serving that they eat. I like to look at the end panel (per 100g) as this tells you the percentage of sugar in the product. I would suggest you aim for under 10 grams. This aligns with the World Health Organisation’s recommendation to limit sugars intake to less than 10% of total energy intake. Also, it is important to be wary of sneaky names for sugar!
Step 5 – Start your day with a balanced and wholefood breakfast
So often, many clients come to me beginning their day with toast with a spread or perhaps yoghurt, fruit and granola or cereal.They wonder why they have a sweet tooth and are hungry within an hour or two. I am very quick to point out that this is sugar, sugar and more sugar and there is nothing satiating about a high sugar/refined carbohydrate breakfast. My first tip is to suggest that you begin your day with a wholesome savoury breakfast that balances protein, healthy fats and some carbohydrates from whole food sources like high fibre vegetables. I work with my clients to develop a nutrition plan that suits them and their bio-individuality. All experience a reduction in hunger levels and sweet cravings later in the day. Note: While I am an supporter of controlled intermittent fasting but ONLY once clients have included an adequate amount of healthy fats and achieved balanced nutrition for a certain period of time.
Step 6 – Eat more healthy fat
I love healthy fat. I love it so much that I eat it, drink it and rub it all over my body (in the form of coconut oil). Outdated, falsified and flawed studies have made society super scared of healthy fats and it makes me mad! One of the first changes I suggest my clients adopt is to eat more healthy fat. Healthy fat comes in the form of fatty cuts of meat (no chicken breast or lean cuts of steaks), healthy oils (like grass-fed butter, olive oil, coconut oil, avocado oil and/or macadamia oil), plenty of avocado and/or raw nuts and seeds. All fats are created equal so I work with my clients to ensure they get a healthy balance of the RIGHT fats.
Step 7 – Consume foods high in magnesium, chromium and zinc
These nutrients help improve your cells’ sensitivity to insulin (the hormone used to lower blood sugar levels) to maximise the amount of sugar your body is able to metabolise and burn. As part of a clients tailored nutrition plan, I encourage magnesium rich foods include: rich green leafy vegetables, raw nuts, and seeds, well-prepared legumes, seafood, raw cacao and dark chocolate (in sensible amounts!), organic tofu and chlorella powder. Foods high in chromium include: broccoli, organic whole grains, wheat germ, brewer’s yeast, bran cereal, romaine lettuce, raw onions, sweet potatoes, green beans, bananas, apples, raw tomatoes and black pepper. Foods high in zinc include: oysters, beef, lamb, spinach, pumpkin seeds, nuts, dark chocolate, pork, chicken, beans, mushrooms.
Step 8 – Replace sugar with SAFE sweeteners
But aren’t all sugar-free sweeteners safe? Oh hell NO! I can not caution you enough on the adverse effects of artificial sweeteners found in diet drinks, sweeteners like splenda and equal, low sugar/sugar free yoghurts and sugar-free products. One of the biggest mistakes people make is to switch to “sugar-free” alternatives. Many studies show that the top 5 worst sweeteners are aspartame, sucralose, Acesulfame K, Saccharin, Xylitol and Sorbitol. These chemicals feed the wrong gut bacteria, increase cravings and are now being linked to a number of chronic and degenerative diseases. A safe alternative is stevia – this is a natural sweetener that is extracted from a plant source. My clients experiment with consuming sweeter wholefoods foods like coconut milk and flesh, a small amount of sweet root vegetables, sweet spices and low sugar fruits like berries.
Step 9 – Moderate your fruit consumption
Often when people quit sugar, they consume more fruit. While fruit is the better choice as it contains fibre (to varying degrees) which slows down the absorption of sugar making it a safer option than a bag of lollies – eating a giant bowl of fruit salad can do you more harm than good. In the ‘I Quit Sugar’ protocol, it is recommend that people avoid fruit for the first 8 weeks. I agree with this suggestion and work with my clients to reduce their high-sugar fruit consumption. Later on, we re-introduce lower sugar fruits like berries, citrus fruit and green apples again. Tropical fruits are called ‘Nature’s Candy’ for a reason. I suggest that clients avoid these fruits or only consume in VERY small amounts.
Step 10 – Drink enough water
A lot of the time, dehydration leads to sugar cravings and a slower metabolism. I suggest clients get the recommended 8 glasses a day and add a glass a day if you are physically active. Setting alarms and reminders can be a helpful way to drink enough water daily. Note: Coffee and some teas contain caffeine which can dehydrate us. Reduce caffeine consumption and/or ensure you drink enough water to rehydrate your body.
Step 11 – Reduce stress levels
Easier said than done, I know. Stress hormones trigger hunger hormones and you end up in a perpetual cycle of eating anything to give you a dopamine (pleasure) hit. The problem is we are too busy and stressed. Prioritising yourself through building self-care practices, ensuring your relationships and social life are strong, working in a fulfilling career, engaging in physical activity and creativity can all lead to reduced stress. With these aspects of your life in check, you are less likely to experience stress related hormone imbalances and thyroid dysfunction which causes sugar cravings.
Step 12 – Get better sleep
Sugar cravings are tied to your circadian rhythm and sleep patterns. If you are not sleeping a regular schedule or getting quality sleep (aiding sleep with medications or herbs does not always mean quality sleep), your sugar addiction can intensify. If you follow the above steps and eat a wholesome diet and reduce stress your sleep should improve. Other tips to improve sleep include waking with the sunrise (or just before), exercising earlier in the day and reducing the use of blue light (phones and TV) 60 minutes before bedtime.
Learn to cook – This controls what goes into your body. Eating out all the time can expose you to hidden sugars and lower quality products. My suggestion is to google ‘low-carb’ or ‘paleo’ recipes online or purchase Pete Evans and/or Sarah Wilson cook books.
Keep a food diary – You will be surprised what you notice when you track your food. Observe how many tablespoons you eat in a day – remember you want 4 and under (if that!). More information on food diaries is available in your FREE DOWNLOAD!
Don’t skip meals – Going for long periods of time without food may cause your blood sugar levels to drop too low. I am an advocate for 3 main meals a day. This will promote hunger, and more likely for carbohydrate or sugary foods. There are some clients who I support to fast for long periods, but this requires their metabolic function to be adequate. Only embark on this journey with the support of a professional.
So there you have it! 12 FREE tips for beating sugar addiction! You can start today and you can reclaim your health. I wish you all the best and be sure to keep me updated on your progress!
If you feel as though you can’t do this alone and require the support of a Health Coach to improve your health and wellbeing and ensure your results, our coaching programs are currently discounted by 25%. Your first consultation is FREE and you can book online today. I look forward to having you join the Alchemy community and start taking steps to change your thinking about your health and create lasting change.
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