Let’s face it, we’ve all been there when trying so hard to not cave in and eat the whole bag of cookies. Sweets taste good and provide an immediate, yet temporary high in energy levels, which makes them extra hard to give up! However, this does not mean that processed sugar is good for you and actually the exact opposite is true. Processed sugar in the form of processed-packaged foods, soda, baked goods, causes an unbalanced blood sugar, which in turn negatively impacts cravings, mood, sleep, energy and gut health. First, let’s get a deeper understanding on unprocessed sugar!
As human beings we love sweet things and as Americans we like our foods to taste sweet. Sugar is a simple carbohydrate that occurs naturally in foods like fruits, vegetables, grains and beans. Unprocessed sources of sugar such as barley malt, raw honey, black-strap molasses, rapadura, and brown rice syrup actually contain a variety of vitamins, minerals and enzymes that are healthy and provide our body with nutrients.
When we eat whole grains, such as quinoa, it breaks down to glucose molecules slowly, which enters the blood stream steadily and provides energy and keeps the blood sugar stabilized. However, refined table sugar aka sucrose is extracted from sugar cane or beets and it lacks vitamins-minerals and instead it requires energy from the body to digest. The body must deplete its own store of minerals and enzymes to absorb sucrose. Therefore, it deprives the body from nutrition and creates deficiency. Sucrose enters the bloodstream quickly and wreaks havoc on the blood sugar level, first pushing it sky-high, causing excitability, nervous tension and hyperactivity and then dropping it extremely low, causing fatigue-depression.
Don’t worry there is hope for all you sugar lovers. Next time you’re looking at those tasty but ohhh so bad processed cookies, candies and pastries, try one of these simple sugar recovery steps.
Steps for Dealing with Sugar Addiction
Reduce-eliminate caffeine. Cons of caffeine include dehydration and blood sugar swings, causing sugar cravings to be more frequent.
Drink more water. At times sweet cravings are a sign of dehydration. So, have a glass of water before you go for the sugar and then wait a few minutes to see what happens. FYI- soft drinks are America’s number one source of added sugar.D
Eat sweet vegetables and fruits. Such as yams, sweet potatoes, carrots, parsnips, pumpkins, sweet corn etc. They are sweet, healthy, delicious and full of nutrients.
Use unprocessed sweets. Use natural sweeteners that have not been processed such as barley malt, raw honey, brown rice syrup, stevia and dried fruits. Avoid the chemicalized foods with added sugar and artificial sweeteners.
Exercise. Make a habit to be physically active at least 30 min 5x per week. Try walking, yoga, pilates, cross fit, or dance classes. Start with 15 minutes a day and gradually increase. Exercise will help balance your blood sugar levels, boost your energy, and reduce tension without medicating yourself with sugar!
Sleep-rest-relax. When you are tired or stressed, your body will crave energy in the form of sugar. These sugar cravings are often a result of being sleep deprived, going to bed late or waking up too early.
Cut down on animal foods. Eating too much-too little of savory foods such as animal protein can lead to cravings for sweets. Find a health coach to help you with meal planning and eating balanced meals.
Eliminate fat-free and low-fat processed snacks-foods. These foods contain higher amounts of sugar to compensate for lack of flavor and fat, which will cause a roller-coaster ride of sugar highs and lows.
Experiment with spices. Saffron, cinnamon, nutmeg, coriander, cloves and cardamom will naturally sweeten your foods, stabilize blood sugar and reduce cravings.
Slow down, breathe and find sweetness in non-food ways. Your body craves hugs, time with friends, mother-nature time, exercise, massages etc. more so than sweet foods. When life becomes sweet enough itself, no sugar is needed!