13 Effective Ways to Quit Sugar
It’s 4pm, you are sitting in your office and you are getting that all too familiar craving. You don’t smoke, you are not an alcoholic and you don’t take drugs. You may not even drink coffee. However, you do eat a lot of chocolate and cookies. Basically, anything sweet and delicious. Yep, that’s right, you may be addicted to sugar.
Many people realize they are addicted to sugar when throughout the day, they would often find themselves craving something sweet and comforting that would give them a little lift. This surge in energy would soon drop, however, and then they would crave something sweet once again – vicious cycle. Sound familiar?
If so, it’s no wonder. We are surrounded by sugary delights in pretty packages that look so tempting and innocent. Unfortunately, such sweet treats are far from it.
It has been said that sugar is just as addictive as crack cocaine. Now I hear you thinking: “Yeah ok, but sugar is not as detrimental to my health as much as an illegal drug, right?” Maybe not initially, but let me just remind you of the harmful effects sugar can have on your health.
Why you should quit sugar
1. One of the most obvious reasons is that sugar is very calorific, but not very filling. I don’t know about you, but I don’t feel all that satisfied after eating just one Krispy Kreme doughnut. Hence, why people tend to over-eat the sweet stuff.
2. Sugar suppresses the immune system – if you regularly eat sugary foods and drinks throughout the day, then you are stopping your immune system from working properly.
3. Sugar causes inflammation – this causes pain and can lead to diabetes, cancer and heart disease.
4. Sugar can cause tooth decay.
5. Sugar reduces the release of the human growth hormone, which accelerates the aging process.
As scary as those points were, don’t feel too ashamed of your sugar habit. We’re only humans, and there’s no shame in admitting that now and again – we like to snuggle up in front of the TV with a tub of Ben and Jerry’s, (especially if we’ve just split up with our boyfriend/girlfriend, in which ice cream should be prescribed by the docs). However, it is important we know what we are putting in our bodies. So, read on as I give you my personal tips on how to quit sugar, and feel healthier and happier.
Tricks to quit sugar for good:
1. Eat regularly
Because we are often very busy, we tend to eat irregularly. For many people, if they don’t eat regularly, their blood sugar levels drop, they feel hungry and are more likely to crave sugary snacks. Eating three meals and two snacks or five small meals a day will help you to maintain normal blood sugar levels.
Eating a good breakfast is essential to prevent sugar cravings. Instead of having carbs and sugary foods for breakfast, include in your breakfast protein, healthy fat, fruits or vegetables. Try to include healthy fat and protein with each meal, as it helps control blood sugar levels.
2. Detox your body
When people do a detox and eliminate sugar from their diet, it often decreases their sugar cravings. Although the initial reaction is sugar cravings, which can be overwhelming, our body adjust itself and the desire for sugar will disappear. If you are interested in detoxifying your body, you can find more useful information in my e-book The Detox Guide. This guide will teach you how to use detox to cleanse and energize your body naturally and safely.
3. Emotional eating
Usually we tend to think that a bad mood, stress and anxiety cause us to eat more sugary foods, and we find a cure in eating them. Be honest with yourself and be aware of the emotional issues around your sugar addiction. Eat what you eat with full awareness – ask yourself if you’re eating because you are bored, worried, stressed, and if the answer is “yes”, try to find another solution aside from eating, for example, go for a walk, read, meet with friend, practice yoga, go to a movie, listen to music. Do something you love, get together with someone you love, and see how all of a sudden you’ll great desire so to eat sweets subsides. For more tips read my post on how to beat emotional eating.
4. Eliminate or reduce processed foods
The amount of sugar in processed food is usually quite high. Some food items that don’t seem to contain sugar, can actually be high in sugar content. You need to get into the habit of reading labels to check what you put into your body and check the sugar content.
5. Mineral deficiencies
According to Livestrong website, deficiencies of some trace minerals, including chromium, vanadium, magnesium and zinc, which are involved with glucose metabolism and insulin production, may cause you to crave sugar.
A chromium deficiency may cause intense cravings for sugar. Natural sources of chromium include lean meats, asparagus, cheese, molasses, brewer’s yeast and whole grains.
Magnesium is involved with the regulation of glucose and insulin. If your body lacks magnesium, you may have strong cravings for sugar products, especially chocolate. Food sources of magnesium are spinach, Lima beans, almonds, hazelnuts, oat bran and brown rice.
Vanadium is needed by your muscles to obtain enough glucose for energy and also stabilizes insulin production. A vanadium deficiency may be the cause of some sugar cravings. Vanadium is found in shellfish, mushrooms, dill, parsley, wine, beer and whole grain products,
Zinc is also needed by your body a proper insulin and glucose utilization. A zinc deficiency can result in low insulin levels, which may lead to a craving for sugar. Zinc is found in foods such as beef, pork, oysters, lobster, yogurt, chickpeas, almonds and oatmeal.
6. Get enough sleep
For those who try to maintain a healthy weight and quit sugar, lack of sleep is not recommended at all. Fatigue makes people hungrier, and people who don’t sleep enough hours tend to consume hundreds of calories more a day (much of it in the form of unhealthy sweet foods). You can find here more information about the damages of sleep deprivation.
7. Watch out for sugar substitutes
This includes ‘healthy sugar’ too, such as honey, maple syrup, or molasses. They may contain more nutrients than the refined white stuff, but unfortunately, sugar is sugar, and once it is in your body, it turns into what? You said it – sugar. Using stevia leaves is the best option, although some people don’t like the taste of it.
8. Watch out for dried fruit
Dried fruit may seem like a healthier snack option than cake. And indeed dried fruits have health benefits, but also many calories and sugar. I always felt a sense of smugness when I would be munching away at a packet of dried banana chips while my friend tucked into a cupcake. I would also feel a pang of jealousy, not gonna lie. However, dried fruit contain a lot of sugar. So watch up for portion size and don’t exaggerate with the quantity. If you give in to your cravings, have instead a piece of fresh fruit. It will help you to satisfy a sweet craving and is much healthier.
9. Don’t keep sugary foods at your home and office
Most important, take out of your home all those tempting and unhealthy foods such as cakes and cookies, chips, candies, chocolate and ice cream, and upgrade them to healthier options. You cannot eat a whole package of ice cream straight out of the box if you won’t have ice cream in the freezer, right? We often buy food “for the children”, “For my husband / wife”, “for guests”, but honestly, who really eats it at the end? Do yourself (and your loved ones) a favor and don’t put all that stuff at home. If you really must eat something unhealthy, eat a small dose when you are away from home, but don’t let these foods go through the door.
10. Eat more Vegetables
People think vegetables are boring, but come on, they are so good for you! Not persuaded yet to eat a carrot instead of a cupcake? Bear with me.
Vegetables are full of vitamins and fiber that help to keep you slim and your body working at it’s best. Furthermore, they keep you full for longer, as they take longer to digest and release energy at a slower rate than sugary foods and simple carbohydrates such as white bread and pasta, which soon turn into sugar once they are eaten.
The most recommended snack between meals are washed and cut vegetables that can be taken in a little bag to work and to errands. They contain very few calories and calm the urge to look for carbohydrates.
11. Drink more water
A simple, yet very effective tip. If you do nothing else, I urge you to swap fizzy drinks and sugar laden tea and coffee for lots of H2O. Two liters a day is the recommended amount for adults. A few gulps of water takes the edge of your appetite and helps you to lose weight as it boosts your metabolism and ultimately keeps your body healthy.
Add cinnamon stick or cinnamon powder to hot drinks. Cinnamon reduces the desire for sweets and helps to improve the function of insulin in the cells (thus helping to maintain the blood sugar levels). If you love cinnamon, you may be interested to read my article about how to use cinnamon as a medicine and which type of cinnamon to prefer.
Many people struggle to have the will power and discipline, or just need the first “push”. Once your body has been used to lower amounts of sugar, people find it easier to continue with that process. But how do you even start?
Here comes L-glutamine which is an amino acid (a building block for proteins), found naturally in the body. It is an alternate source of glucose available to the brain, and it often relieves sugar cravings by helping to steady blood sugar. You can open a capsule and put it under your tongue, and within minutes you will feel the crave reducing effect. A better way to use it is to put a heaped spoonful of glutamine powder dissolved in water when craving strikes or as a preventive measure (preferably on an empty stomach). Alternately you can take 3 or 4 times a day between meals. It might be the first step you need to let your body get used to consuming less sugar which will have a much better effect on your diet (and waistline!). It may take a month for your body to wean off sugar, and you won’t need to supplement with L-Glutamine any more.
It may take you around four weeks to reduce your sugar dependence. You may feel like you want to aggressively rip open a packet of Oreos within those days, but stay strong, you can do it! Just think how great you will feel when you’ve kicked the habit.
Many people who enjoy a diet that is low in sugar report that they have lost weight, have clearer skin, feel more energized, a lot healthier, and in turn, happier. Of course you can still treat yourself now and again to sweet treats. Life’s too short not to. The difference is that now you will feel in control and don’t feel that crazy craving for sugar anymore.
When the sugar craving pops up, think about all the benefits that will happen to your body when you quit sugar. Read the story of Sarah Wilson who is suffering from Hashimoto’s disease, an auto-immune condition of the thyroid. She decided to go sugar-free in January 2011 as a part of her pro-active treatment program. After eliminating the sweet stuff from her diet, Sarah experienced a number of health improvements, some connected to her chronic condition and others of a more general type: