Listen to “How to Quit Sugar?”.
Giving up sugar is one of the best things you can do to improve your health, but it’s also one of the most difficult. Sugar is addictive, and most of us are hooked on it from childhood. It seems like everyone nowadays is trying to cut down on the sweet stuff, but is it really as easy as people say it is?
Here are some facts about sugar:
Sugar creates an addictive cycle of hunger, fatigue and moodiness. Sugar causes an initial spike in blood sugar levels, causing us to feel energised and happy. However, since it’s devoid of real nutrition, the blood sugar quickly plummets, leaving us feeling tired, hungry and moody. As a result, we reach for more sugar, and the cycle continues.
Sugar causes excess fat storage by triggering the body to produce insulin. This then tells fat cells to store more.
Sugar causes painful inflammation which is seen as a precursor to heart disease and diabetes.
According to various studies, it takes up to 60 days to reverse a habit. Sugar is a particularly tough habit to kick, and one with many deep-rooted emotional ties. I find it takes most people about 6-8 weeks of going cold turkey to get sugar out of their system. After about two months their bodies are then able to determine how much sugar they want.
Quitting sugar doesn’t need to be the result of a draconian diet. Instead, it should be a gradual and gentle switch. It’s not about rigidly forcing change but a simple experiment to see what works for you.
Here are some things to add to your diet to help cut out sugar cravings:
1. High protein, fat and fibre foods
These are highly satisfying and keep the body full for longer. Make sure every meal and snack contains them. Aim for about 25% of your meal to come from proteins with good fats, like Omega 3s. Good examples of these are eggs, nuts, avocados, olive oil, hummus, salmon or antibiotic-free chicken.
2. Eat leafy green vegetables instead of bread, pasta and refined carbohydrates
Bread is quickly converted to sugar, creating the same cycle as discussed earlier. Vegetables, on the other hand, are complex carbohydrates which keep you satiated for hours.
3. Give up sugary drinks for good
Soda, fruit juice, sports drinks, iced teas and other sweetened beverages are sneaky sources of added sugar. One can of cola, for example, contains nine teaspoons of sugar; already a third more than the six teaspoon daily limit suggested by the American Heart Association. If you can, always opt for water or herbal tea.
4. Say “NO” to processed food
Many processed foods are loaded with hidden sugars. These are foods that people would never suspect such as salad dressing, ketchup, BBQ sauce, and bread. Don’t be fooled by food companies claiming their products contain zero “refined sugar.” This only means that there is no white sugar.
In addition to looking for familiar sugars on labels, also look for the ingredients that end in the letters ‘-ose’, such as glucose, fructose, sucrose, and galactose.
5. Watch out for health products as well
Some of the most sugar-laden foods are found in health food shops. To avoid the ‘sugar’ label, many seemingly nutritious packaged foods are sweetened with honey, palm sugar, coconut sugar and agave. Don’t get caught out by the different labels; all of these are still sugars.
As Shakespeare wrote, “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet”, and so too, sugar by any other name still tastes as sweet and will have a similar effect on your body to refined sugar. Agave is one of the most problematic substitutes as it contains more than 70% fructose.
Weight loss, clearer skin and increased energy levels are just a few of the benefits of quitting sugar, and they are all noticeable within the first two weeks. If you put your mind to it, you can choose to quit sugar for good.