Sugar is addictive.
I just had to say that off the bat so if you are knee deep in a sugar habit you realize that this can be like quitting cigarettes/alcohol for many people and so you don't give up too easily. If you are reading this I'm guessing you eat more sweets than you think is best for you or you have health issues going on (immune stuff, weight gain, bloating, mood swings) that you wonder if going off sugar would help.
Your health will improve off sugar. Any reduction can help. What we know is that sugar can impact the health of your immune system, skin, gut, pancreas, adrenals and your mental health so the pay off of quitting/reducing is pretty big as far as our overall health longterm.
A key factor in going off sugar, as with any addiction, is that YOU have to want to quit. If you are not ready to go cold-turkey, experiment with decreasing it and using a some of the tips below and commit when you are ready.
Having moral or other support can help as well as just having alternatives. And these alternatives can be food related or not. I go into the top three areas I look at in a naturopathic consult further down this blog but to start here are some basic ideas to explore ...
- eating your main meals in a way that balances your blood sugar and eliminates the "I'm starving!" snacking tendency. When your blood sugar isn't swinging all over the place your body naturally craves a pick-me-up-out-of-the-mud-sugar-hit less. Breakfast can set us up for an up and down sugar yo-yo sort of day if we go the typical North American carb-athon route: toast, cereal, orange juice. Instead, aim for these 3 at breakfast to set yourself up for a smoother blood sugar ride.: fiber, good fats, and healthy protein.
- getting acupuncture - some of the acupuncture points I use for helping folks quit smoking are also used in curbing other cravings like sugar and we can customize the acupuncture points to your body's needs.
- having naturally yummy foods like berries, date with a couple almonds or sweet potato with ghee (you will appreciate the natural sweetness of many foods over time as you go off sugar)
- using stevia as a sweetener for dessert recipes
- adding cinnamon or cardamon as a sweetener - cinnamon is amazing in this department as it contains components that work on balanced blood sugar and it tastes yummy !
- having a glass of lemon juice to pattern interrupt a craving
- eating good quality dark chocolate (GiddyYo is my favourite!)
Naturopathically there are 3 areas I look at when someone wants support with breaking their sugar habit ...
1. Balancing the Gut
If there is candida (yeast overgrowth) in the system we work to restore the gut back to a healthy balance. Candida is a type of yeast and can be in the gut in larger amounts then we'd like from antibiotic use, birth control pill use and stress.
if you are a baker you know that yeast feeds off of one thing: sugar. Eliminating sugar cuts off Candida's main food supply but my experience is that taking something herbally to clear it out is needed as well. Everyone is different but Candaclear-4 is an all-in-one cleanse that is the option I am seeing the best results with these days with adults (and HMF probiotics with Unda gut restorative remedies is my go-to for kids). Both of these candida kits are super simple which makes completing the programs easy. Whew! (-:
2. Emotional Eating
Whatever we reach for that makes us feel better, when we feel emotionally not as we'd like, can become an addiction over repetition and time. There are healthy addictions like heading out for a walk to breathe and clear our head when we feel anxious/overwhelmed. And there are addictions that make us feel temporarily better quick. Sweets are just so easy to grab when we're feeling down, triggered or emotional! Part of the longer term solution here is to learn skills that increase our capacity to let ourself feel vs fear our emotions. This is a game-changer I love to introduce to my clients as it naturally decreases the amount of emotional eating that happens for people because they aren't needing to be distracted from uncomfortable emotions or thoughts. Freedom in other areas of life comes with this as you might imagine.
A way to see if emotional eating is playing into your sugar habit is to check in with yourself (your body) when you see yourself reaching for your treat of choice, and just noticing without judgement what you are feeling (and thinking) in that moment. Being curious is the first step in transforming this ... I can help if you are stuck ...
3. Proper Nutrition and Overall Energy
Sugar addictions can start from just being tired and wanting a pick me up for feeling low in energy. This is the part where I assess if you are getting what you need nutritionally for healthy sugar metabolism and for energy in general. Nutrients such as B vitamins for energy and chromium for helping the body process sugar properly are some of the key nutrients that help curb the sugar habit. Multi Glyco from Seroyal is my favourite combo multi supplement I recommend to clients wanting to go off sugar increase their energy and decrease cravings. There are some herbs in that formula that aren't good for everyone but as long as I rule that out it is my #1 choice for this for those with cravings.
You've read to the end so I would say you seem ready to make some changes. Give some of these suggestions a go and if you'd like some 1-on-1 or group support with this just call the office at (403) 609-8385 and book in a naturopathic consult. We'll get a solid plan in motion for you! (-:
You got this! xo Dr. Monika