In this week's Recipe Tuesday, we explored the idea of going sugar-free. I get it, this seems like a daunting task– so outrageous in fact it is far easier to gawk at and forget about. It's true, taking out sugar in this society can be tough, not to mention it is a highly addictive substance that we've naively built up a tolerance to. So in an empowered community spirit of "if we can do it, you definitely can too" some members of Radiant Life have collected our five favorite tips to help quell sugar cravings and make sugar-free the way-to-be! As always, we love to hear about your experiences. Be sure to share at the end.
Confessions of A Jelly Bean Junkie
In my skewed pursuits of health as a strict patroller of sneaky calories and fats, I spent years trying to trick my body into enjoying non-fat, nutrient deficient "health" foods. In my stringent efforts, I would find myself spending most of the day scouring for snacks– nibbling on this, chomping on that– and the rest of my hours ruminating about what I was going to eat next. Every time I left the house, I would step out the door armed with a gooey granola bar in every pocket and fruits by the bag-full in order to prevent a midday hypoglycemic slump into crankiness or light-headedness. After a day of careful calculations, and strategic meal-moves I would come home a sugar-craving, fat-avoiding monster. I became a jelly bean popping, cardboard-like meringue cooking crunching, non-fat frozen yogurt licking maniac. I thought this was just how life had to be. But the truth is I was HUNGRY! Learning more through the Weston A Price Foundation about nourishing my body with nutrient dense foods and healthy fats, I was finally able to experience freedom from my deficient, sugar-based trance. I realized I could eat food, real food and enough of it to be satisfied. Breaking the sugar cycle isn't easy, and it is always a process. Slip ups happen, you make choices and you go with what you've learned. As endocrinologist Robert Lustig says, it can take up to 5 years for certain sugar cravings to go away. But the good news is that if you really want them to, they do, and re-discovering the beautiful tastes of nature through raw and fermented foods, offers a myriad of health benefits, physical strengthening and a liberation from food-preoccupation that is well worth the efforts.
5 Tips to Reduce Sugar Cravings
1. Eliminate all sugars and starches from diet...completely (or as best as you can!)
That's right, unfortunately your potatoes, cereals, grains and other starchy foods are metabolized as sugar in the body. Cereals and white breads have been shown to raise blood sugar even more rapidly than an oozy, synthetic, caramel-infused candy bar! It may seem outrageous to go “cold-turkey” on sugar, but this will assuredly be the simplest way to conquer sugar addiction. Don’t panic: stress and self-negativity will only complicate things. Have fun and be empowered! Do the best you can, and eventually your taste will become so refined that the brilliant, naturally honeyed taste of a sweet potato will be quite sufficient in satisfying your sweet cravings!
2. Consume nutrient-dense proteins and natural dietary fats
This is so important! Healthy fats and robust protein-containing foods will regulate leptin levels in the brain to consistently satisfy hunger pangs. The bottom line is, the more we try to trick the body with sweetener-loaded, low-fat diet products to stop hunger and quell weight gain, the more damage is being done. Instead, dare to nourish with what you truly crave and require: add butter, coconut oil, grass-fed ghee, or other healthy fat sources to your diet, and be sure to get high quality protein through grass-fed, pasture raised meats, nuts/seeds and seafoods.
3. Get adequate essential fatty acids
The essential fatty acids (EFAs) found in fermented cod liver oil are critical and particularly helpful for maintaining balanced health and digestion. There are two types of omega 3s found in high vitamin cod liver oil: EPA and DHA. EPA is necessary for the production of prostaglandins, which are the hormones that direct many important processes in the cells. DHA is vital for the healthy development and functioning of the nervous system and the brain. In conjunction, these nutrients will help to strengthen neurology and reset the endocrine system during the processes of breaking sugar cravings. For optimal absorption and synergistic effect, try blending with high vitamin butter oil. I use the Chocolate Cream Liquid Gel from Green Pastures. It is a fermented cod liver oil/high vitamin butter oil blend. The gel is far from tasting like pudding, but I have found it tolerable to take, especially knowing the fantastic benefits it provides. Cod liver oil capsules are also available for the faint of heart!
4. Take a B-Complex with meals
These delicately manipulated vitamins will actually help in the process of carbohydrate metabolism, to reduce glycation. Max B-ND from Premier Research Labs has undergone a unique probiotic fermentation process to provide optimal enzymatic support for digestive health. Desiccated liver and nutritional yeast are also fabulous sources of B vitamins that are simply incorporated into your daily routine. Check out our other blog posts to learn more about the importance of B Vitamins.
5. Try Stevia
Stevia is a sweet herb grown in primarily in South America that is 200-300 times more sweet tasting then sugar. It is thus used in very small amounts, and has actually been shown to have a stabilizing effect on blood sugar fluctuations, even in diabetics. Stevia is available as a powder and clear liquid, and works well in beverages as well as for cooking/baking. The product that Radiant Life offers is an unrefined, pure stevia that is organic, and void of alcohol, chemicals or bleaches. Just note, that the sweetness in stevia may cause increased sweet cravings...such is the cycle! It may be a good place to start, however many sugar-free Radiant Lifers have found that in time, such sweeteners become overwhelming in comparison to the exquisite taste of high quality foods at their peak of freshness.
Avoiding sugar isn't about deprivation, its about giving your body more of what it needs!