Break the Sugar Habit
Reaching for something sweet to eat (especially if it’s loaded with refined sugars), can create a nasty roller coaster effect cycle leaving you feeling depleted and craving more. But that’s not the worst of it. Not only does it ignite a slew of chemical reactions in our body and brain that rob us of our precious energy, it has been said to be worse for us than cocaine.
Your Mind on Sugar
Eliminating sugar is hard because it’s an addiction. Eating high-sugar foods lights up your brain on an MRI “like a Christmas tree,” Dr. Mark Hyman, M.D., founder and medical director of UltraWellness Center, said during an interview on HuffPost Live. Sugar gives you a rush, messes with your brain by fueling the hormones dopamine (the so-called reward chemical) that spikes your desire to have more.
Research from the University of California, shows that sugar also forms free radicals in our brain’s membrane and compromises nerve cells’ ability to communicate (can you say brain fog?). This impacts how we remember instructions, process ideas, and handle our moods, and focus.
Your Body on Sugar
Here’s the not-so-sweet truth. We are killings ourselves by consuming way too much sugar.
Sugar, along with caffeine and white flour, are substances that interfere with our metabolism and brain health. These are the addictions that people usually have the most trouble giving up and getting out of their systems.
Despite decades of Americans being brainwashed into thinking that fat is bad, plenty of studies have shown that it’s actually sugar, not fat, that is making us sick and overweight. Consuming sugars, such as high-fructose corn syrup, puts strain on the liver and has been linked to increased levels of triglycerides and total cholesterol.
Sugar Has Many Disguises
The average American consumes about 22 teaspoons every day, according to the United States Department of Agriculture — that’s a 20 percent increase since 1970. And our kids consume about 34 teaspoons every day (that’s more than two 20-ounce sodas). Reaching for a lollipop is one thing, but sometime this toxic substance is hiding in most products you find on the shelves. It can be lurking in almost every packaged product such as breads, yogurts, cereals, sauces, dressings, canned fruits and even organic packaged products, so reading food labels is a must. Look for words such as:
- Brown-rice syrup
- Corn sweetener
- Corn syrup, or corn syrup solids
- Cane Juice
- Dehydrated cane juice
- Fruit juice concentrate
- High-fructose corn syrup
- Invert sugar
- Malt syrup
- Maple syrup
- Raw sugar
- Rice Syrup
- Sorghum or sorghum syrup
- Turbinado Sugar
- Anything ending in “ose” or “ol” is probably sugar.
What’s the Difference?
Many people wonder what the difference is between added sugars in (nutritionally void) processed foods and drinks between natural sugars occurring in fresh, organic fruit and vegetable juices (that are also loaded with water, fiber and other vibrant micronutrients). It’s a common question and one that’s important to understand.
Misleading information in the food industry makes it difficult for the consumer to make the right choice. With tricky product labels claiming, “All Natural,” “100% juice,” “freshest,” “no added sugar,” “no preservatives,” “gluten free,” etc… it’s no wonder we’re all confused. You’ll see these buzz words in every single aisle at the grocery store but the marketing you see on the front of the product rarely matches the nutrition label on the back.
Your best bet?
Reach for long-lasting sustainable energy from real, organic nutritious foods made from the earth. Read the nutrition labels… or better yet, choose foods that don’t need a label.
Giving Up Sugar
It’s all about choice. Think of it as empowerment rather than deprivation. When you’ve made the choice to give up sugar, have a plan in place to replace it with something healthy. We recommend eliminating sugar from your diet in a systematic (all-in) way rather than phasing it out (note: this detox recommendation is different for other addictions such as caffeine). Avoid any foods that come in box, package or a can or that have a label, and stick to real, whole, fresh foods. Practice meditation, yoga, exercise, reading, brushing your teeth…anything enjoyable to distract your mind during the detox phase.
Inhale the good stuff. Exhale the bad stuff. Focus on the sensation of your breath (temperature, texture, moisture) as you sit comfortably with both eyes closed and meditate for 5-10 minutes. This allows you to reset your mind and get your head right.
Mindfulness meditation activates the ‘rest and digest’ part of our nervous system helping with stress management. Studies show that taking deep breaths activates a special nerve, called the vagus nerve, that shifts your metabolism from fat storage to fat burning and quickly moves you out of the stress state. And all you have to do is take a deep breath. Neuroscientists have also found that, after just 11 hours of meditation, practitioners had structural changes in the part of the brain involved in monitoring our focus and self-control, helping with addictions (like sugar).
We absolutely love Chara’s guided “Brilliant Morning” and “Blissful Evening” meditations. 20-minute meditations anytime, anyplace, anywhere. Chara notes the benefits of meditation include: stress release, mind & body wellness, empowerment new thought patterns, gratitude and a higher vibrations, development of supportive habits, and an ascend to a new level of possibility and potential. Apply mindfulness to your everyday activities and you’ll break the sugar habit in no time.
Drink Plenty of Water
When a craving begins, reach for a glass of water with lemon. Thirst is often mistaken for hunger. Drink at least six to eight glasses of filtered water a day to keep your body well hydrated and flush toxins out of your system. If you have an upset stomach, drink ginger or peppermint tea. Steep a tea bag in boiling water for 10 minutes, and drink up.
If you are tired, allow more time for sleep. Getting adequate sleep will help to control your appetite hormones. If you’re sleep deprived, you usually look for energy from other sources and tend to overeat, reaching for sugary foods. Yes, you can literally sleep your cravings away.
Be prepared for snacking emergencies and strong cravings with alternate solutions such as fresh-pressed juice, crudité, whole fruits or nuts. Juicing is an amazingly effective (and convenient) way to boost your intake of fresh vegetables and fruits for an on-the-go snack as you reset your taste sensors to eliminate cravings for sugar-filled (or salty) junk food. Plus, you get to gently cleanse the body, especially when you drink the green juices by flooding your cells with high-quality nutrients that repair cells and protect against diseases.
Start A Food Journal
Keep a food diary to track the foods and beverages you consume every day. Beside every meal, snack, or drink, track the time of day and your mood, and keep note of any impulsive eating behaviors and food cravings. For the first week, keep close track of all sugar-containing foods, without trying to cut down at all. Read labels, and don’t forget the small mindless servings including the teaspoon of sugar you add to your coffee or the mint after dinner. Take notice of the relationship between your eating patterns and your energy level.
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