How To Cut Sugar From Your Life
by Jari Love
Recently I posted an article about why sugar is so bad for you. However, cutting sugar from your diet can be challenging. I recently had a client come to me for help eliminating sugar from her diet for good. Danielle is a mom of two and works part time. Once her youngest hit 4 Danielle decided it was time to make some changes in her life, and she started seeing me and coming to my classes on a regular basis. Danielle loved the classes, but found herself craving sweet stuff all the time particularly after workouts, but knew giving in to her cravings wasn’t going to get her the results she wanted. She came to talk to me to see whether I could offer any advice not only for herself, but also for her two boys.
One of the problems with sugar is that it acts like a drug. As sugars are released into your bloodstream your blood sugar rises. Your pancreas works to regulate that blood sugar level by releasing insulin. Insulin’s job is to move sugar from your blood into your cells where you can use it as energy. However, the more refined the sugar the faster this happens and the faster your pancreas has to work in order to regulate your blood sugar levels. This puts a lot of stress on your pancreas, and sometimes, if you eat even small doses of poor-quality highly refined sugars like corn syrup, you experience those tremendous highs and lows of blood sugar spikes and crashes, which leads you crave even more sugar.
If you consume more sugar than your body needs to fuel its cells, that excess sugar is stored as fat! Additionally, if your pancreas is constantly producing insulin to regulate your blood sugar levels, your body can’t produce glucagon which is the hormone that releases fat so your body can burn it off. If you are eating lots of sugar, not only is your body storing that extra sugar as fat, it is also not burning any stored fat.
One of the reasons that your diet is filled with so much sugar is that some form of refined sugar is included in virtually every single processed food. This is yet another reason that it’s important to cut those processed and packaged convenience foods out of your diet. Even some “health foods” should be avoided due to their high sugar content. One of the first fixes Danielle made to her and her boys’ diet was to cut out juice boxes and orange juice for breakfast. 1 8oz glass of orange juice contains 25 grams of sugar which is about half the recommended daily intake for an average adult! Danielle cut out her boys’ juice intake and found this simple change significantly helped reduce their mood swings and “tired” tantrums. Danielle also cut out her morning glass of orange juice and found she was less tired half way through the morning and could forgo her sugar fix.
I also recommended that Danielle and her boys upped their protein, particularly at breakfast. A diet rich in protein keeps you full, satisfied and less likely to crave sweets. A great way to make sure that you are getting enough is to plan each meal and snack around a protein. Danielle began planning breakfasts around eggs and protein shakes which also helped her ward off those cravings.
The biggest change Danielle made to her diet was cutting out all products containing artificial sweeteners. Danielle had initially tried to cut sugar by switching to products with sugar alternatives. The problem with these artificial sweeteners is they actually interfere with our hormonal system’s ability to detect when we’ve eaten enough. Artificial sweeteners make our body think we’ve had something sweet, but when the calories aren’t there our body craves them—making us eat more food to satisfy the deficit.
Danielle got rid of all those artificial sweeteners and replaced them with whole fruit and the occasional piece of dark chocolate. Eating a piece of whole fruit when you are craving something sweet is a good option, since you can have your sweet fix, while also ingesting vitamins and minerals. The fiber present in fruit also helps slow down the sugar’s release into your blood stream thus putting less stress on your pancreas.
Danielle replaced her secret indulgence— Twizzlers licorice—with a small square of dark chocolate for those times when she just had to have something sweet. Consuming Dark Chocolate that is 70% or higher in cocoa content releases endorphins that suppress pain and stress. The flavonoids found in cocoa can also help reduce blood pressure and the B-vitamins are an additional stress busting benefit. The benefit of the cocoa, in addition to the lowered sugar content, makes dark chocolate an occasionally justifiable treat.
Danielle found that the longer she and her boys went without sugar, the less they craved it. As you begin to limit your intake of refined sugars, you’ll find that your tolerance for sugar decreases. This means that something that didn’t taste sweet before – say a green apple – now has uncanny depths of sweetness. What’s happening is that your sweet receptors are becoming more finely tuned, now that you’re not overwhelming your palate with sickly-sweet refined sugar. Danielle found she actually had more energy once she decided to kick the sugar habit, and as a bonus after only three weeks on the no sugar plan, she found she had lost an extra 4 pounds!
Remember, diet is a huge part of your weight management program, but a regular, challenging exercise routine is also a must. Not only will a challenging exercise program help you get into amazing shape, it also reduces your cravings for sugar. The endorphin rush brought on by vigorous exercise is an even more powerful feel-good-feeling than the pleasure gotten by indulging in sugary foods.
Jari Love – original creator of Get RIPPED! DVD series and group exercise classes. The hot-selling and critically acclaimed Get RIPPED! series enables individuals of any fitness level to burn up to three times more calories than the traditional weight-training program, and has received rave reviews from fitness critics throughout North America since the first title debuted in late 2005.