Join the crowd, we all have a sweet tooth :) How can we begin to eliminate sugar from our diet?
The reality is that it may be impossible to remove sugar from our diet. That is unworkable and non-sustainable. What we can do is to minimize sugar and to eat the healthy sugars, so that we aren't craving the processed and unhealthy inflammatory sugars that are out there in our diet.
Sugar is one of the most addictive condiments out there in the food industry today. When you eat sugar, you crave more and more of it. The same can be said for bread or pasta. This is because they all contain simple, addictive, processed carbohydrates.
The first thing is to eliminate those things from your diet. I often do with my clients what's called an elimination cleanse, where we stick to fruits & vegetables and whole grain sources of protein, so that your body's insulin levels don't go up and down, and your cravings decrease.
Another way to decrease the cravings is to make sure that you are eating a good source of protein so you feel full, as well as keeping your insulin levels steady. You want to have more chicken, or if you are doing vegetarian, garbanzos, lentils, black eyed peas and quinoa. Those are good sources of protein that help eliminate the cravings by keeping your insulin levels steady and stable.
The second thing is that you really do need to eliminate the refined sugar, to detoxify your body of these things. After you have eliminated sugar for a certain amount of time, you don't really crave it until it is reintroduced.
There are things you can do to curb the cravings while you're detoxing, such as using fruit and other natural sugars, like strawberries, bananas, raspberries, blueberries, or blackberries. One of my favorite things to do is to get fresh raspberries or strawberries and sprinkle them with stevia and snack on it ..and it's a low calorie sweet snack. This way your craving for sugar goes down because you are getting the natural sugars at the same time that your body is detoxing from the refined and unhealthy sugars.
Your environment is stronger than your willpower, so if you really want to decrease sugar out of your diet, don't go around it. It sounds very simple, but don't buy processed sugar and bring it home. Most likely you won't be able to resist them when they are right in front of you. When you go to the store, shop the perimeter. That's where your produce is going to be. Some of the markets have put their bakery there. Go to the opposite side first, where the dairy and the meats are. Usually the produce is way in the back. Or go to the frozen section. But try to avoid the areas that have the snacks, the pastas, all of those foods that pull on your heartstrings, and make you regret eating later.
The last thing is to not go shopping when you're hungry. You'll be craving all those unhealthy things, and are more likely to buy them and take them home. If you go to the store with a list, you aren't as likely to buy those things.
During holidays you can't always avoid being around sugar, so if there is a holiday coming up, I recommend eating the protein first and getting yourself full and then you are less likely to crave the sweet things. And if you do crave them, you are less likely to overindulge in them. It's OK to have a sweet once in a while, but when you overindulge, that's when you trigger your body's addictive mechanism, and you're going to want more and more, then go through the whole detox process again, which as you know, can be very painful.
That's some ways to decrease the sugar in your diet. Sometimes eliminating sugar is not the most realistic thing, but decreasing it and taking it in moderation, and eating sugar in a healthy way, the natural sugars, is the best way to satisfy your palate, while at the same time maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
One last thing to cover. There are sugar substitutes. Avoid Splenda®, as well as the pink and blue packets. They contain harmful chemicals that can cause migraines, headaches, and in some cases, even cancers and multiple sclerosis, which are neurological problems. You can use things like Truvia®, agave nectar in moderation, and raw honey. Products such as xylitol don't trigger as much of that addictive mechanism as refined sugars do.
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