Processed Sugar, is Moderation Possible
10 Tips to Successfully Break a Sugar Addiction, and Reset the Body.
There are different types of sugar, and they aren’t all bad. The ones that need to be moderated are the processed, refined, and added sugars present in many processed foods. Sometimes it can be confusing to understand which sugars are okay to eat, and which ones must be moderated. First, let’s keep in mind that sugars are carbohydrates and carbohydrates are sugar.
To keep things simple, we can get our sugars/carbohydrates from two sources, whole foods and processed foods.
Whole foods high in sugars/carbohydrates such as fruit, potatoes, rice, beans, quinoa, and wheat occur in nature, and our bodies have been digesting these carbohydrates well for quite some years now. These foods come equipped with fiber that allows us to absorb the sugars/carbohydrates slowly for sustained energy and a healthy blood sugar level.
These foods are designed to taste good, and last for a long time.
Processed foods high in sugars/carbohydrates such as crackers, cereals, cookies, and breads must be created. The sugars/carbohydrates in these foods undergo a preparation process involving extreme heat and chemicals that changes the way they are metabolized by the body. Processed food usually doesn’t have much fiber, and can raise blood sugar much more suddenly than a whole food.
For example: A whole fruit and juice from that same fruit may have the same amount of carbohydrates, but the fruit has fiber, and will enter the bloodstream much more slowly than the juice.
And you may think to yourself, well sugarcane is a whole food isn’t it?!
Yes, but how much sugarcane would you have to consume to get the amount of sugar in one can of soda? You would have to eat about a pound of sugar cane. That would definitely take longer than drinking a can of soda! Having that amount of sugar hit the blood stream so suddenly can be a bit of a shock for the brain.
Still drinking sodas or other sugary drinks?
Because the main source of added sugars in the American diet is soft drinks and sports drinks, one simple way to cut unwanted added sugars from the diet is to cut out liquid calories.
For example: One 12 oz can of cola = 140 calories and has 39 grams of added sugar (7.8 teaspoons).
If you were to drink just one can of this soda a day for a year, that would equate to 51,100 calories from added sugars. Because 3,500 calories is equal to roughly 1 lb of fat, 51,100 calories would equal about 14.6 pounds in one year!
Here is one more reason to give up cola this year: researchers have found a strong link between drinking cola and osteoporosis. Although this correlation is not completely understood, evidence shows that the phosphoric acid in the cola plays a part in leaching calcium from the bones, while the caffeine blocks calcium absorption for a few hours.
There are many mixed messages circulating from the media and health professionals about sugar, and the general consensus seems to be to “eat less”, “eat in moderation”, or to “cut back”. This leads us to two questions:
How much sugar is less sugar?
Although there is not yet a recommended percent daily intake for added sugars on the food label, The World Health Organization recommends that adults and children reduce their daily intake of added sugars to roughly 25 grams (6 teaspoons) per day. 25 grams a day equates to about 20 pounds of added sugar in a year. On average, Americans consume 150-170 pounds of added sugars in a year.
This may seem unreal, until you attempt a no added sugar challenge, and begin to realize that added sugars are present everywhere from salad dressings to tomato sauces to bread. Because consuming such a high amount of added sugars can cause chronic inflammation, it puts Americans at a higher risk for many diseases. So clearly, we need to find a way to eat less, which brings us to our next question:
What if “eating less” just isn’t working for you right now?
Some people are highly sensitive to sugar, and can experience intense cravings when they try to cut sugar out of the diet. For people who are highly sensitive to sugar, sometimes it is difficult to simply cut back. They often experience withdrawal symptoms without sugar such as mood swings, fatigue, shakiness, and headaches. The human body is very intelligent, and comes equipped with tools to stay healthy. It has the ability to tell you when it is hungry, what it needs to eat to stay healthy, and when it is full. However, when the body is addicted to a substance, these helpful signals become difficult to read. The intelligent human body is not yet equipped to deal with the recent development of processed sugars. Occasionally, it is necessary to reset the body with a fast from sugar. After a sugar fast, foods will often taste sweeter with less sugar, and it will be easier to stop eating when you are full
If you think you are someone who is extra sensitive to added sugar, why not try a 30 day no sugar challenge?
Going a whole month without eating added sugar can be a challenging and rewarding experience. Reading food labels will become very important because sugar is often found in places one would not expect.
10 Tips for making it a month without added sugar:
1.) Don’t go hungry or thirsty– Make sure that you eat satisfying meals regularly throughout the day. Hunger and thirst can lead to a relapse into old habits. Because naturally sweet foods such as fruit are usually high in water content, thirst can cause sweet cravings.
2.) Eat enough fat – Fat will help keep you full, and may help with the withdrawal symptoms associated with cutting sugar out of your diet. Healthy fat sources include: Avocado, Nuts, Seeds, Salmon, and Cold-pressed vegetable oils.
3.) Late night snack options – Sugar cravings tend to surface late at night when your body’s glycogen stores are lower. Make sure that you have some pre-approved sweet snack options at hand. Here are some ideas: 1 cup of frozen grapes, Low fat cottage cheese or yogurt with fruit and nuts, popcorn with stevia and cinnamon, a cup of tea with some honey, or my favorite Creamy Chocolate Avocado Pudding listed below!
4.) Keep problem foods out of sight – If possible, keep foods with processed sugar out of your home while you are fasting. If this is not possible, keep these foods out of sight. Seeing problem foods can be a trigger for many people.
5.) Build a support system – Tell your friends and family what you are doing and ask them for their support. Some of them might even join along with you!
6.) Identify your triggers – Pay attention to the way you react to your environment. First identify your triggers, and come up with a plan to deal with them.
7.) Be nice to yourself – If you slip up during the challenge, identify the trigger that caused it, and come up with a plan to better handle it next time. Always keep in mind that it is very difficult to go into a new situation knowing exactly what to expect, and your objective in any challenge is to learn.
8.) Eat enough carbohydrates– If you exercise regularly, it is important that you refuel properly after your work out. You will need to provide your body with enough carbohydrates to make up for the processed sugar it is accustomed to. Within an hour of a workout, refuel with slow digesting carbohydrates such as: sweet potatoes, whole grains, and fruits.
9.) Chew your food – Not only is this the best way to keep your digestive system healthy, eating more slowly will help you know when you are full and feel satisfied after a meal.
10.) Probiotics – Research has found many links between the types of bacteria in the human gut, and our physical and mental well-being. Processed sugar and preservatives kill good bacteria in the gut sometimes leading to weight gain and illness. Healthy bacteria are also needed to synthesize and absorb important nutrients for the body. Take this opportunity to restore your body’s natural balance with probiotics.
Late Night Snack – Creamy Chocolate Avocado Pudding:
Makes 2 servings
- 1 small avocado
- Stevia or honey to taste
- 2 tbsp of Cacao power – add more for extra chocolaty taste
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 tbsp of milk of your choice
Top with fruits, cacao nibs or nuts