by Lisa Breitenwischer, CHHC
Sugar is so “outre” or overdone during the holiday season that come the New Year, many of us are left with a decrease in energy, brain fog, irritability, even depression. These negative motivators are not likely to help you create lasting change. What does work is getting clear on the positive payoffs and exactly how your life will be enhanced as a result of breaking free from sugar.
Start by making a mental shift and write down the reasons for making the change. What is driving you to overhaul your diet and lifestyle? Perhaps it’s from the list of negative motivators above or something affecting your health, like low energy, mood swings, diabetes, or another auto-immune disease. Next, visualize what you want. Once you visualize what you want your life to be like, you’re ready to get started!
Ten Steps to ween off the sugar and start living the life you came here to live:
- Don’t Go Cold Turkey. Slowly decreasing your sugar consumption will help you avoid intense withdrawal symptoms, like headaches, anxiety & mood swings.
- Cut Out Refined Sugar. It’s added to countless food products like ketchup, bread, salad dressings, granola cereal or bars. Manufactures may mislead you by using the name cane sugar or high fructose corn syrup. Switch to organic raw honey or maple syrup, as these contain nutrients that refined sugar does not. Use sparingly as you ween off the refined sugar. (It’s still sugar, just a step up from refined).
- Artificial Sweeteners are Not Your Friend. They’re much sweeter than natural sugar and they can dull your taste buds, making a piece of fruit seem very tasteless. Artificial sweeteners can also increase cravings for high-sugar and high-calorie foods. The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) cautions everyone to avoid aspartame, saccharin and acesulfame K, because they are unsafe in large amount and are not worth the risk. If you need something, use the herb Stevia (100% pure & organic). It’s a natural sweetener & it won’t mess with your blood sugar and trigger cravings.
- Give Up Sugary Drinks. This includes soda, fruit juice, sports drinks, sweet iced tea and any other sweetened beverage including coffee drinks and alcohol. Cutting this out will make a huge difference in how you feel, immediately. Drink unsweetened sparkling water, seltzer, herbal teas, water with added lemon, lime or orange slices, strawberries, raspberries even cucumbers.
- Lose the Simple Carb. Sweet Treats. Such as pastries, muffins, and white or wheat breads, as most offer little nutrition but are dense with added sugar. They really jack up the blood sugar level and create more cravings. Switch to whole grains, which are a complex carbs and are absorbed more slowly into the body, producing a more satiated feeling. Ezekiel or millet bread is a great swap for white or wheat bread.
- Limit Meals from Restaurants & Skip the Drive Thru. There are hidden sugars, salt and fat in many restaurant dishes and fast foods. If you want your joints & your body to feel better- drive by the drive- thru!!
- Read Labels Carefully. Look for brown sugar, corn syrup, maltose, fructose, molasses, agave, dextrose, brown rice syrup, cane sugar, cane syrup, evaporated cane juice, which are just other ways to say “sugar”.
- Fill Up on Lean Protein, Healthy Fats & Veggies. Eat protein at every meal. It’s the key to balance blood sugar and insulin and cravings. For breakfast, try a plant based protein powder shake, eggs with avocado, or oatmeal with berries, nuts & seeds. For lunch and dinner, eat 4-6oz of fish, organic chicken or turkey, grass fed meat, or legumes. Fill the rest of your plate with greens, broccoli, cauliflower, asparagus, green beans, mushrooms, onions, zucchini, tomatoes, artichokes, fennel, eggplant or peppers. (Limit potatoes, winter squash and beets). Remember to incorporate healthy fats like nuts & seeds, olives, avocado, salmon, flaxseed, coconut oil.
- Go with Naturally Sweet Flavors & Spices. Cinnamon and vanilla extract added to coffee or oatmeal will offer a sweet taste without the sugar. Add fresh citrus zest (lemon or orange) into plain Greek yogurt for a refreshing snack or breakfast. Other sweet spices and herbs like ginger, nutmeg, and cardamon can be added to beverages or foods, too.
- 80/20 Percent Rule. 80% of your choices are healthy, leaving 20% wiggle room for splurges.
Getting sugar out of your life can be challenging but it can be done! Healthier eating, regular exercise and practicing stress reduction will help you feel better and bring clarity to the mind.
If you find you need some help, call me at 214.749.4744. I can give you more tools and and suggestions to help your break-up with sugar a positive experience. Call to set up an appointment for your unique Nutritional Health Consultation. We can chat by phone, Skype or meet in person. Your 75-minute session will include recommendations for diet, supplements if needed, and exercise program all for $125.