When I stopped drinking alcohol four years ago, my cravings for sugary sweets skyrocketed overnight. Although the quantity that I would consume was low, I developed an attachment to eating something that contained processed sugar as soon as the craving would arise, which was customarily after eating lunch or dinner. Despite my diet being generally healthy back then (not at today’s level), I landed in the doctor’s office with extremely high blood sugar, and cautions from my specialist, about what type 2 diabetes would look like for me.
The average American consumes about 152 pounds of sugar a year or roughly 22 teaspoons daily. Our children consume about 34 teaspoons everyday equivalent to more than two 20-ounce sodas, making nearly one in four teenagers pre-diabetic or diabetic.
Flour (inclusive of wheat flour) is even worse for our health than sugar, as we consume about 146 pounds of flour a year, which raises blood sugar even more than table sugar.
(Alternative: Bake with Almond, Coconut, or Oat Flour)
Being addicted to sugar and flour is not an emotional eating disorder but rather a biological disorder, driven by hormones and neurotransmitters that fuel sugar and carb cravings. All of this leads to uncontrolled overeating which is the reason why 70 percent of Americans and 40 percent of children are overweight.
My experience with the elimination of and detoxification from processed sugars mirrored the neurological and physiological response that took place when I stopped drinking alcohol, stopped smoking, or that one time at band camp that I stopped taking caffeine, where the first few days after quitting, I had a visceral response to my sharp cravings as a result of my spiked blood sugar and insulin. After researching, I found that continuing to give in to the discomfort by consuming sugar, caused sizeable changes to my brain, lighting up brightly the addiction center of my prefrontal cortex.
The good news is, the cravings began to fade within the first ten days, just like with putting down the rest of my above listed vices. I liken it to the notion of riding a wave, letting it crest at the top while resisting the urge to give in at its peak, and then gently watching the wave fall as your craving dissipates. This all happens in a very short amount of time and boils down to honing your discipline to not give in to the strong instant gratification pull that we battle with everyday.
Sugar in all its forms is the root cause of our obesity epidemic and most of the chronic diseases:
- Heart disease
- Increases risk of digestive diseases
- Cause of liver disease
- Type 2 diabetes
- Speeds up the aging process
STEPS TO DETOX SUGAR
We need a clear path to detox from sugar and to break the addictive cycle of carbohydrate and sugar cravings that robs us of our health. You can do anything for 10 days or less, which is all the time required to make this life changing shift. Here are the steps that worked for me:
- Make an agreement with yourself to detox – I went as far as to sign a contract(without a notary)
- Quit cold turkey – stop all forms of sugar, flour, artificial sweeteners, and MSG which cause the cravings and slow metabolism.
- The Sugary Beverages Got-”STA”-Go – Take them off your grocery list and remove these products from your house as they are WORSE than solid foods that contain sugar or flour because they mainline sugar straight to your liver. These include:
- Sports Drinks(Gatorade has 14 tsp of sugar/bottle)
- Vegetable Juice
- Sweetened Tea/Coffee
- Protein Plan – Protein is the key to balancing blood sugar and insulin and cutting cravings so plan to increase your intake. Starting this at breakfast is crucial so starting the day with a protein shake will be hugely beneficial. Throughout the day eat these protein packed foods:
- 3 TBL of Hemp Seeds
- 2 TBL Spirulina Supplement
- 2 TBL Chia Seeds
- Soy Milk
- 2 TBL Chia Seeds
- Vegetables with the most protein include broccoli, spinach, asparagus, artichokes, potatoes, sweet potatoes and Brussels sprouts.
5. Eat more FAT – as this balances your blood sugar and fuels your cells. I eat an avocado daily and salmon regularly for its Omega 3 fats for brain health, as well as using coconut butter, avocado oil, and olive oil for cooking
6. Go Mobile – Always have good snacks with you for when you are on the go and your blood sugar drops.
- Packets of Artisana nut butters and coconut butter
- Raw Almonds, Sprouted Walnuts(WF), Brazil Nuts, Pumpkin Seeds(Trader Joes has best), Raw Macadamia Nuts(WF), Sunflower Seeds
- Salmon jerky https://www.amazon.com/Fishpeople-Alaskan-Omega-3s-Gluten-free-Antibiotic-free/dp/B07GJXQGN2/ref=sr_1_5?crid=3J3OVCNKTRWE9&dchild=1&keywords=salmon+jerky&qid=1587909089&sprefix=salmon+jer%2Caps%2C184&sr=8-5
7. Dim the Flame – Inflammation triggers blood sugar imbalance, insulin resistance, pre-diabetes, and type 2 diabetes. As mentioned earlier, gluten and dairy are the most common culprits. Since we often crave the foods that we are sensitive/allergic to, abstaining makes you feel badly and crave more. Put them down in tandem with the sugar for just 10 days.
8. Get some Sleep – fatigue drives sugar and carb cravings by affecting your appetite hormones.
Alternatives – I promise you will be amazed by these alternative products as their flavor profiles match those that contain sugar, but you spare yourself the insulin spike, that leaves you feeling depleted shortly thereafter and long term susceptible to health risks.
Snacking/Baking Chocolate: Hu Chocolate Gems
Snacking Chocolate: Choc Zero Products
Baking/Cooking Sugar Substitute: Swerve Brown and Granular Sugar Free Sugar
SF, Dairy Free, GF ice Cream Novelty: Leah’s Better Bites(Whole Foods) – My boys love these
So Delicious: No Sugar Added Vegan Ice Cream and Bars(half a dozen products)
Meet the Source Bliss Balls – Dairy and Sugar Free. Taste is phenomenal Available at the healthful and awesome quick serve STL restaurant HELLO JUICE in Tower Grove (shout out to Jen and John Maness) – www.hellojuicestl.com