Sugar is a popular topic in discussions regarding diets and nutrition. An average American consumes about 22 teaspoons of sugar per day, which adds up to over 8,000 teaspoons per day. While our bodies need glucose to function properly, most Americans consume sugar, especially refined, by the pound. As such, sugar often goes unnoticed more than any other fat-building substance that creates hormonal and neurological chemistry imbalances, overall health detriment, and unwanted weight gain. A multitude of studies are pointing out that sugar plays a pivotal role in the development of many of the devastating illnesses, including heart disease, cancer, diabetes, Alzheimer’s, and others.
In order to become healthier and exude more vitality, you should learn how to avoid excessive sugar in your diet, so here are some suggestions to help you maintain a sugar-free lifestyle:
1. Choose REAL whole food throughout the day. Whole foods, such as vegetables and fruits, in its original form contain no processed sugar. For most people, consuming a variety of whole foods, preferably fresh, seasonal, and organic, create very few metabolic issues in digestion and assimilation of nutrients. With each meal and snack, consider including at least 2-3 varieties of whole foods. If you eat 3 meals and 2 snacks or 5 smaller meals throughout the day, your blood sugar levels will be normalized without the extreme drops, which will keep your hunger at bay and you will be less likely to go hungry and craving sugary snacks to pick you up.
2. “Eat breakfast like a King!” Eating a substantial breakfast is hugely important to start the day off on the right foot, which should include protein, healthy fat, and a source of phytonutrients. Breakfast smoothies are a great option to help you combine all of these components at once. Check out a few recipes HERE! A well balanced breakfast is essential to prevent sugar craving during the day, as well as it is important to avoid a typical carb-loaded starchy cereal full of processed sugars.
3. Incorporate protein and fat with each meal. Of course, that means the healthy variety of both! There are plenty of good choices of plant-based proteins, as well as healthy fats (mono- and polyunsaturated fats). The protein includes plant-based quinoa, lentils, tempeh, legumes, spirulina, nuts, and seeds, and lean animal choices. The unsaturated fats include avocados, olives, nuts (almonds, peanuts, macadamia nuts, hazelnuts, pecans, cashews), nut butters, sunflower, sesame, and pumpkin seeds, flaxseed, fatty fish (salmon, tuna, mackerel, herring, trout, sardines), olive oil with cold dishes and dressings, and coconut oil for cooking. Also, remember to include whole food complex carbohydrates that are not highly refined, such as a breads, pastas, pastries, bagels, and such, as they actually break down as sugars in the body.
4. Stay hydrated. Often a food craving can be misinterpreted for hunger. So before you reach for a snack or more food, drink a glass of water to ensure it’s hunger.
5. Get enough rest. Lack of sleep will negative effect your energy levels, which also encourages an increased intake of consumption of sugar, particularly sugary caffeinated drinks and sweet snacks, to counteract the exhaustion experienced. Managing stress is another important component of having restful days and nights.
6. Move the body. Exercising in whatever form or fashion can help you increase the movement in the spine and body, increase blood flow in muscles and joints, reduce tension, and boost energy, all of which reduce the need for a sugar high as you can enjoy the serotonin increase following exercise. So get out, do some walking, swimming, dance, yoga, hiking, biking, or anything else that will get your heart pumping for a multitude of benefits. Even 20 minutes will make a significant difference, because the cravings last 10-20 minutes.
7. Learn to read labels. Ideally, you want to reduce the intake of foods that even have labels. However, in those cases when you do encounter labels, it is crucial to know what you are putting in your body. First label warning sign: the longer the list of ingredients, the more sugar will be included. Second, check how much sugar is included, which is measured in grams (1 teaspoon = ~4 grams), so choose products with the least amount of sugar. Avoid any sweeteners, which include the long list of: agave, corn syrup, corn sugar, high fructose corn syrup, sucrose, dextrose, honey, cane sugar, cane crystals, fruit juice concentrates, molasses, turbinado sugar and brown sugar. And never, ever substitute artificial sweeteners for sugar!
8. Clean out your stash. Making sure to remove all temptation from your house and office will be helpful in ensuring that you will not reach for the sugar snacks, which will create a distraction and you are more likely to reach for a healthier option or even a glass of water.
9. Consider a good quality multivitamin and mineral supplement. A lot of people are nutrient deficient and even more are not getting enough through their nutritional intake, which can often make their cravings worse. On the other hand, increased sugar intake will actually leach nutrients from your gut, creating nutrient deficiencies! So there are a few specific nutrients that can help fight sugar cravings while improving blood sugar control, which include magnesium, vitamin B3, and chromium.
10. Explore the possibility of deeper issues of sugar addiction. Sometimes the craving for sugar may be rooted in an emotional need that is not being met on some other level and is being substituted with emotional eating. Be open to addressing the sugar addiction through other avenues, such as journaling, counseling, and above all, by asking for help.
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Be healthy & happy, Dr. Tijana
If you do not already have a local chiropractor, call Dr. Tijana at 706.254.4579 to schedule your first appointment for YOU & YOUR FAMILY for a comprehensive health assessment TODAY!