I often hear the question, “If I want to take just one step to improve my health, what would it be?” My answer is, “Reduce the refined white sugar in your diet.” Did you read that and feel uneasy? This is a common reaction. People consume sugar to relax, to suppress uncomfortable emotions and to celebrate happy times. So if you reduce your sugar intake, how can you add some sweetness back into your life?
Let’s take a look at what you stand to gain. If you didn’t have strong sugar cravings, you wouldn’t miss eating sugar on a regular basis. It’s the cravings that taunt you to order dessert and snack on sweets. What would your life look like with less sugar? You would lose weight, become calmer and enjoy improved health. Sound too good to be true? Let’s look at some surprising facts about sugar and then I’ll share some helpful tips on how to gently ease excess sugar out of your life.
• Sugar consumption has increased 1500% in the last two hundred years
• With lots of calories and no nutrients, sugar is the #1 cause of America’s weight problem and lack of nutrition
• In order for any food to be properly digested it must contain nutrients, and since sugar contains none, it robs your body of stored vitamins and minerals
• Humans don’t require simple sugars and can assimilate the necessary amount of sugar from complex carbs, proteins and fats
• If your muscles have enough fuel for energy, sugar is stored as FAT
• Sugar destroys the germ killing ability of white blood cells for up to five hours after ingestion
• High insulin levels in the blood are also linked to low levels of good, HDL cholesterol
• Once cells become cancerous, they feed directly on sugar and sugar can accelerate tumor growth
*Facts from “Get the Sugar Out” by Ann Louise Gittleman, M.S., C.N.S.
6 Tips to Reduce your Sugar Cravings
• Learn to prepare mildly sweet desserts with nutrient-rich, natural sweeteners
• Increase your intake of sweet vegetables and fruits
• Drink plenty of water
• Add sweetness to your life with naps, massages, hobbies, fun with friends, fulfilling relationships or whatever makes you smile
• Decrease your temptation for sweets by not bringing desserts and processed sweet foods into your home
• Consistently eat whole grains such as quinoa, brown rice, millet, etc.
People often use willpower and extremes in regards to food. Women especially get frustrated with themselves because they feel they lack the willpower to avoid desserts. But it’s not about willpower. Often your body craves sugar for both physiological and emotional reasons. Once you resolve these underlying causes, it’s easier to move past your cravings without relying solely on willpower.
Keep in mind the value of a slow, steady approach. Most people want immediate results, but has the short-term solution of a diet created long-term change in your life? Probably not. Getting healthy is a process, not an event. Another advantage of the steady, consistent approach is that it is enjoyable and over time becomes a lifestyle because you look and feel great!
Do you want to reduce your sugar cravings but think you need support? Studies show that getting support when making diet and lifestyle changes is not only highly effective, but significantly increases your success. So buddy up with a friend or find a health coach to support you on your health journey. Change your food. Change your life.