5 Steps to Sugar-Freedom
Sugar is killing us.
It’s not just the teaspoon of sweetener stirred into our morning coffee. But all the hidden sugars we consume daily without even knowing. It seems like everyday I read something in the news or see another new documentary about the negative effects of sugar on our health. The alarm bells are sounding, our food and our bodies are under attack.
In fact, 74% of all packaged food products available in the supermarket have added sugar. Even the seemingly healthy foods like whole grain cereals and breads, salad dressings, plant-based milks, “health” bars, nutritional beverages, smoothies and so on, are laden with additives. Sugar is finding it’s way onto our plates and into our bodies in volumes that humans have never experienced before and the amount with which we consume sugar has reached toxic levels.
Many of us have learned to always read the labels of prepackaged food items in an attempt to make smart choices. But one big problem is in the labeling itself. Reading the label doesn’t always give us the complete picture of what we are consuming. Nutritional labels don’t show us how much of the sugar is natural to the food itself versus the amount of processed sugar that has been added. And to make things even more difficult to understand, there are at least 61 different names for sugar listed on food labels today.
Even foods that are typically considered “healthy” can contain shocking amounts of added sugar or fructose. But this is not the innocuous fructose that has sweetened the fruits humans have eaten since time began. This is a questionable ingredient with many names that could be causing all sorts of health problems. A single cup of plain yogurt typically has about seven grams of sugar in the form of lactose, a naturally occurring sugar found in dairy. A fruit flavored variety of the same yogurt, on the other hand, may contain as many as 19 grams of sugar. That means 12 of those 19 grams is added sugar and lacking any nutritional benefit. This equates to eating a small cup of plain yogurt with a bowl of Frosted Corn Flakes or 3 added teaspoons of sugar dumped on top.
We have all heard about one form of added sugar, high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), once touted by food corporations as a healthier alternative to granulated sugar. Clinical trials however have shown that those who consume HFCS tend to develop higher risk factors for cardiovascular disease within as little as two weeks.
Sugar and processed fructose varieties wreak havoc on the liver which has a very limited capacity to metabolize these ingredients. The average adult can safely metabolize up to six teaspoons of added sugar per day. Frighteningly, the average American consumes 22 teaspoons of added sugar a day. That’s almost four times the recommended limit.
And guess where all that excess sugar ends up? Yup, it is metabolized into body fat.
Research coming out of some of America’s most respected institutions confirms that sugar is a primary dietary factor driving chronic disease development.
Scientific studies have linked excessive fructose consumption to about 78 different diseases and chronic health problems, including but not limited to:
- Type 2 Diabetes
- Cardiovascular Disease
- Hypertension (high blood pressure)
The choices we make from day to day can have a big impact on our overall health.
Let’s start by giving your pantry a sugar-free makeover.
First, trash anything that is not real food. Put aside pre-packaged processed goods, unless it’s whole food, with only a few real ingredients. “Food items should have less than five ingredients, and only things you recognize,” says Dr. Mark Hyman. If you see ingredients that compromise health or that you can’t pronounce or understand, toss em.
Second, dump sweetened drinks like fruit juices, diet sodas, and sports drinks. Cutting out these beverages will save yourself another 15-20 teaspoons of added sugars per serving. Sometimes you may feel that your body is asking for sugar when in fact it’s dehydrated and really craving water. Try sipping a small glass of H20 before meals and snacks to curb this impulse.
Last, try our five tips to support you on your path to Sugar-Freedom.
5 Tips to Sugar-Freedom
- Raise the level of serotonin, a.k.a. the “happiness hormone,” in your body through exercising and sleeping well. With plenty of serotonin pumping in your system, you’re far less likely to have cravings for sweets.
- Avoid blood sugar dips by eating several smaller healthy meals throughout the day instead of three large portions to avoid dips in blood sugar. Consume your larger meal earlier in the day, and finish with a lighter meal since fewer calories are necessary for energy at the end of the day.
- Eat more fermented foods and drinks rich in probiotics. Cultured, pickled, and/or fermented foods can help reduce or even eliminate cravings for sugar. The probiotics in fermented foods and drinks eat up excess sugars and reduce the damaging effects that sugar can have on your body.
- Meditation can help ward off cravings by reducing stress. Stress creates the hormone cortisol which increases your blood sugar. Adding a short meditation before meals can help you relax during meals which means better digestion and absorption of nutrients.
- If you’re looking to shift the desire for sugar, lose weight, or eliminate any addiction for that matter, you may want to explore Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT). EFT is an easy tool that anyone can learn in minutes. You simply tap on emotional acupressure points on your body while repeating key statements that help shift your body, mind, and habits.
Want some additional inspiration on your path to sugar-freedom? Check out the recent documentary Sugar Coated (available on Netflix) which explores the politics of why so much sugar has found its way into our food supply.