7 Tips on How to Tame the Sugar Monster!
We crave sugar for several reasons, connected to biology (NOT will power…scientifically, willpower doesn’t exist!!):
- It is a quick source of energy for our bodies, and the main source of energy to make our brains run
- We get a high, a quick feeling of feeling happiness when we eat sugar
- If we have parasitic infections in our intestines (e.g. bacteria/viruses/yeast/worms/protozoans), THEY crave sugar and they throw temper tantrums when they don’t get what they want! They release toxins when we don’t feed them and give us brain fog, irritability, and all-around grumpiness. They are happy again when we feed them, so then we crave more sugar!
- If we eat foods that have simple sugars (picture a single tower of Lego, easy to break apart block by block), these hit our bloodstream fast because they are so easy to digest. This can cause our blood sugar levels to rise quickly and then fall quickly, making us crave even MORE sugar (just ONE more dessert?!) over and over again
Realize that ALL carbohydrates/starches by definition are SUGARS!
- Our bodies break them down the same way in the liver. Whether it is a candy bar or sushi with white rice, it is STILL sugar!
- When we eat lots of carbs and don’t balance it out with lower sugar options like proteins and/or veggies, our bodies start to crave more and more carbs
- Try and balance your servings (if it works for your body), pair up the proteins with the carbs to lower the sugar hit to your system (e.g. pair nut butter with crackers, or chicken with white potatoes, or sweet potatoes with steak)
- You can lower the sugar hit as well by cooling some foods and creating something called “resistant starches”. This works well with potatoes, rice, and plantains, to name a few. You can either eat these starches cold after cooking them or reheat them. The structure of the sugar molecules changes when they were cooked initially and they impact your blood sugar less. Pretty cool, eh?!
- Be aware that we connect sugar with positive emotions or with the BRIEF release of uncomfortable emotions (sadness, disappointment, loneliness, stress, frustration, depression, grief, shame). For example, think about these events WITHOUT sugar….?:
- Birthday celebrations
- Rewards/good behaviour
- A break from work/school, etc.
- Religious/cultural holidays and celebrations
- Showing someone that you love them
Knowing that sugar isn’t JUST food for most of us is the first step to swapping its role in our lives.
Want to feel good but want to swap out eating sugar with something that boosts your health?
- Go for a walk
- Talk to a friend
- Watch something funny on YouTube
- Do a hobby, even for 5-10 minutes that boosts your mood
- Take 3 deep breaths to reset yourself
- Ask someone to show their love for you in a different way (spending time, playing a game, watching moves together, write you a note, etc.)
- Think of something that makes you happy that ISN’T food related!
Be a label detective!
Take a look at labels and look under “Carbohydrates” to see how high the sugar content is.
Quick sugar math!!
4 grams of sugar = 1 teaspoon of sugar
For example, a latte from a certain beverage chain that will remain nameless has 23 grams of sugar in a Venti. That is equal to almost 6 teaspoons of sugar in one drink!
General recommended total daily intake of sugar (all types, natural, added….):
- Women: 25 grams/day
- Men: 37.5 grams/day
- Children: 25 grams/day
Look for sugar in whole foods that are marketed as “healthy”
They can still feed our nasties and push our blood sugar limits sometimes. When I Google “Sugar Free recipes”, these ingredients pop up a lot, but they are LOADED with sugar! Just not refined sugar or raw sugar from sugar canes.
- Raisins, dates, dried apricots
- Tropical fruit, like bananas, pineapple, mangoes
- Maple syrup (All natural! Super high in sugar!)
- Agave nectar, honey
Substitute with alternatives and bring them with you (“contingency snacks”)
It is always good to have emergency backups when you have cravings! Stash them in your bag/purse/car/desk, etc.!
- There are lots of natural substitutes on the market, like stevia, yacon syrup, Benisweet, monk fruit, xylitol, inulin, chicory fibre, erythritol (WARNING: some of these can set off the bacteria in your intestines and cause bloating and indigestion at the very least! Moderation is key.)
- Beware: coconut sugar, organic cane sugar, barley malt/syrup, rice syrup, raisin concentrate, evaporated cane juice, jaggery, molasses, palm sugar, anything that ends in “OSE” are STILL sugars!
Eat protein when you crave sugar! It takes longer to digest and can calm your hunger down.
- Nuts, seeds, including nut/seed butters
- Organic nitrate-free meat pepperette sticks
- Protein shakes
- Collagen powder (I use Designs for Health Pure Paleo Vanilla and actually mix it with hot water to make a “white hot chocolate”)
- Organic deli meat
- Higher fat snacks, like a spoonful of coconut oil or avocadoes
- Hummus with crackers or veggies
Keep in mind that the later you stay up at night, the higher your chances are of craving sugars
- Drink an herbal tea (chai, ginger, licorice, chamomile, etc.)
- Be aware that your body might be craving food near the end of the day because it hasn’t received the nutrients it needs throughout the day.
- Have a dinner with a good amount of protein and high quality fat.
- Think about how you want to de-stress at the end of the day that DOESN’T involve food. Think about hobbies that you haven’t gotten to for a long time. You don’t have to do these things for more than 10-15 minutes to reset your body and cravings! (I get it, I used to snack from 8pm until 11pm every night for decades as my downtime!)
- Use the techniques above (eating protein as a snack, enjoying your sweet treat and savouring it if you are going to indulge)
- Start paying attention to your sleep hygiene. Are you turning your lights down lower for several hours before you go to sleep? Wearing blue blocker glasses and using blue light filters to reduce the stress on your body (remember: stress = sugar cravings!)? Is your room so dark that you will bump into things? Do you keep the lights off if you get up? Are you aiming for going to sleep around 10-10:30pm, matching your body’s circadian rhythm and the rhythms of light and darkness outside? BONUS: If you are going to try and go to sleep earlier, pull your sleep back by 15 minutes per WEEK so your body doesn’t resist!
The impact of sugar on our bodies:
- Makes us age faster
- Uses up our electrolytes
- Uses up trace minerals, like zinc, that can help our healing and immune system
- Lowers our Vitamin C levels, which we need for healing and boosting our immune system
- We need Vitamin C to help our white blood cells eat invaders (viruses, bacteria, etc.), the more Vitamin C, the more the white blood cells will eat!
Remember! NOTHIING lasts, including cravings! They had a beginning, which means they DO have an end. Perhaps you have some techniques that have helped YOU deal with your cravings! You don’t give into them ALL the time. You have some great ideas that have worked just for you.
Author: Jessica Tucker
Jessica truly understands and empathizes how her patients feel, after experiencing a lifetime of digestive, emotional and immunity issues such as I.B.S., Crohn’s Disease, severe depression, vertigo, arthritis, eczema and migraines. All of these situations are now distant memories, as Jessica is now in the BEST health she has ever been in her life and has more energy and vitality than she ever thought possible, thanks to her journey at Living Proof.
She loves to help people realize their own potential and to feel good using simple and easy techniques, whether it is in the kitchen, practising meditation or making lives less stressful and more fun and enjoyable in everyday life. She fully believes the path to full physical and mental health is through a combination of knowledge of nutrition, digestion, healthy sleep habits, movement, detoxifying the home and personal care products and mindfulness/self-love.
Jessica can be found playing at the park with her family, dancing Lindy Hop with her friends, drawing cartoons, going to hot yoga or practising nature and portrait photography in her spare time. One of her favourite passions is to research the most current information in nutrition, biology, mindfulness and functional medicine coaching in order to help her patients get the lives that they have always wanted.
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About the Author: Jessica Tucker
Jessica Tucker, Holistic Nutritionist and Health Coach, is proud and honoured to be part of the Living Proof Team in Mississauga, Ontario.
Our Mission at The Living Proof Institute is to address the root cause of your health issues and restore your health and vitality. Through partnering and education, you will receive the tools and direction to live an extraordinary life.
You’re really good at making me feel better about the state of my health. Studies show this leads to better outcomes for patients, so thank you for that.
Believe it or not, I’ve had many doctors tell me things like: “Your ears look like crap”…etc. I often walk out of Dr.’s appointments feeling worse about my health than I did before. I understand part of it is how I frame it too, but I feel like some doctors just don’t get it.