Wellness Wednesday: 20 Top Tips to Break Your Sugar Addiction (and why you should)
Continuing with my “best of” The Purple Almond this week…This article was first published in May, 2017, when I was going through my own sugar detox. It is doable…I did it, so can you! Here are some tips to help!
1.9 billion people worldwide
are categorized as overweight. (16)
Does that shock you? How about this…It’s projected that in 10 years, up to 50% of the world population will be overweight. (16) Scary right? Why is this happening? The food we eat…in a word, SUGAR!
Is sugar toxic?
Absolutely! But, wait, your body needs glucose right? So, how can something your body needs be toxic? Sucrose, AKA: table sugar, is only 50% glucose. The remaining 50% is fructose, which isn’t used anywhere in the body…it’s useless AND TOXIC. Here’s a clip from the news show 60 minutes, in which they investigate the idea that sugar is toxic…
Sugar (fructose) damages the liver
The liver is by far one of the most important organs in the body. It is the largest organ…it contains 10% of the blood supply, pumping 1.4 liters every minute. It also has more than 500 vital functions. (No that’s not a typo!) It’s also the only place in the body where fructose is processed out of the body. When your liver processes too much fructose, it becomes fatty, like the photo above. Fatty liver, whether from alcohol or fructose, if left untreated, leads to cirrhosis of the liver. (13) The good news…the liver is extremely resilient…it is the only organ in the body that can regenerate itself. (Think about that…the liver is so important, nature decided it better be able to regenerate itself!) But, you have to get off the sugar!
Is sugar addictive?
As you can see by the brain scans above, sugar actually activates the brain more than does cocaine. Is sugar addictive? Well as a confessed sugar addict myself, I can tell you with 100% certainty, YES! But, don’t take my word for it. Watch this TedX Talk from Loyola Marymount University:
Confessions of a Sugar Addict
in a Sugar-Laden World
Here are 2 brain scans,
one from a sugar addict
and one from a non-addict
Why do we crave sugar? This happens because sugar activates the dopamine receptors in the brain, the same receptors activated when you take drugs, like cocaine or heroin. However, sugar is far more efficient, and is 8 times more addictive that cocaine, heroine or even tobacco.
So, if sugar is this addictive, how do we give it up? If you’ve tried to give up sugar and failed, don’t feel bad. You’re in good company. It is difficult, trust me, as an addict, I know! I am currently detoxing from my last go round with sugar…(my vice is soda). So, what am I doing and what do the experts recommend?
Tips for breaking your sugar addiction
- DETOX FROM SUGAR– If you’re an addict, this is an absolute must. Personally, I do it for the first 3 -5 days (or longer-until cravings go away). Stay away from ALL forms of sugar, even raw honey, maple syrup, fruit, etc. To be on the safe side, I stay away from anything sweet. Which means zero calorie sweeteners such as artificial sweeteners, monk fruit and stevia. If you use stevia-you’ll have to avoid it for a little while-just a few days. You’re trying to avoid any sweet tastes on your tongue. This is only temporary…once you’re cravings are gone, you can add the fruit and stevia or raw honey back in.
- Use L-Glutamine– Glutamine is an essential amino acid, used by the body to make the lining of your digestive tract, and muscles . It’s a favorite protein of the brain, and fuel for dividing cells. It also helps curb sugar cravings. I take anywhere from 500 mg to 1000 mg 3 or 4 times a day, depending on my cravings. (You may need more, possibly up to 3000 mg) Trust me, this absolutely works. My cravings are very intense when I forget to take it. I’d be lost without it.
- Eat a good breakfast– Make sure and eat a well balanced breakfast, including healthy carbohydrates, protein and good fat. For example, an omelet, cooked in coconut oil with a serving of oatmeal.This will help your blood sugar stay stable, warding off cravings.
- Eat protein and healthy fat at each meal– for the same reason as above, it stabilizes your blood sugar.
- Read Labels– Sugar is hidden EVERYWHERE! Remember, to your body, sugar is sugar, no matter the form. Avoid all products with added or hidden sugar, including yogurt, salad dressing, pasta sauce, cereal, etc.
- Drink LOTS of water– This can help curb cravings, (And, you’re body needs it!)
- Eat whole foods– Processed foods are generally full of added sugar. It’s best to avoid them.
- Focus solely on giving up sugar– Don’t change anything else in your diet. Giving up sugar is enough to handle right now.
- Take Magnesium supplements-Magnesium is used in the regulation of glucose, insulin, and the neurotransmitter dopamine; a deficiency can manifest in the form of intense sugar cravings. (3)
- Eat a balanced diet-Now’s not the time to try some fancy extreme diet. Eat a balanced diet, with lots of fiber, healthy whole grains, free range protein, as many non-starchy veggies as you can stand and healthy fat. (NOTE: If you research sugar detox tips, you’ll see people say to stay away from all carbs during detox, even healthy ones. I completely disagree! This means you will be going on an extreme diet. (aka: High protein or keto) I have tried this method with disastrous results. In my opinion, and experience, by completely depriving your body of healthy carbs, you’re likely to end up binging later. And that’s the last thing you want. This isn’t the time to be experimenting with your diet. You can eat 1 or 2 servings/day of carbs on your detox, JUST MAKE SURE THEY’RE HEALTHY!)
- Eat regular meals/snacks-Eat 3 meals and 2 snacks-once again you are trying to maintain a stable blood sugar level.
- Exercise– This acts as a distraction and boosts Serotonin, the hormone that creates “happiness”
- Meditate and/or use EFT– Meditation and EFT can help reduce stress and keep cravings at bay.
- Enjoy fermented beverages– These healthy drinks can help reduce or eliminate sugar cravings. AND you have the added benefit of improving gut health.
- Take Chromium Picolinate– I haven’t tried this one, but it’s used by Doctors to decrease insulin resistance, enhance the action of insulin, and aids in the transport of glucose to cells. (7)
- Cinnamon-1 teaspoon, in food or a hot beverage helps control blood sugar and ward off cravings
- Keep sugar out of the house and office– This might seem obvious, but, it’ll reduce temptations.
- Eat a low glycemic fruit-If you just HAVE to have something sweet. Eat a low glycemic fruit such as:
- Cherries. GI Score: 20.
- Grapefruit. GI Score: 25.
- Dried Apricots. GI Score: 32.
- Pears. GI Score: 38.
- Apples. GI Score: 39.
- Oranges. GI Score: 40.
- Plums. GI Score: 40.
- Strawberries. GI Score: 41.
- Peaches GI Score 42
- Grapes GI Score 53
- Get some sleep-Sleep is vital for balancing your blood sugar and maintaining insulin levels (1)
- Don’t fall for the old “just one drink” scenario– Any addict or alcoholic will tell you they’ve done this. You tell yourself “Oh, I’ve been good…just one drink/dessert won’t hurt.” Seriously…I’ve done this dozens of times. It’s typically how I always fall “off the wagon”. I go a few weeks/months without soda. I tell myself I’ve been good, then bam, before you know it, I’m back drinking soda again. DON’T DO IT! As an addict, you can’t “occasionally” drink alcohol or take drugs. The same goes for sugar. Remember, sugar is 8 times more addictive than some of the most addictive drugs on the planet, respect that…and treat sugar as the drug it is.
As a recovering sugar addict myself, I know, first hand, just how hard it can be. I understand what you’re going through because I’m going through it right now. I’ve had the ups and downs, the cravings, the headaches and detox symptoms. It’s hard and sometimes seems impossible.
I’ve decided to make it my mission to, not only get off sugar completely, but spread the word of sugar dangers, and help other people, like myself, struggling to get off sugar.
I hope these tips help. Most of these I’m using as we speak. Just take is one day at a time. The cravings will get better, and eventually go away completely.
You can do it…WE CAN DO IT!
For more information on sugar, addiction
and breaking your addiction, see these sources below:
- Sugar…it’s not so sweet | Calgary Avansino | TEDxMoorgate