We all have a love hate relationship with ‘sugar’ but let's look at its history and how to shake it.
Not all sugars are created equal - sugars are carbohydrates, composed of carbon, hydrogen and oxygen. Sugars come in a variety of forms, but can be distinguished by their chemical structure. Table sugar is 50% Glucose and 50% Fructose.
The body's primary source of energy. The body breaks down carbohydrates to Glucose and uses the product for energy. Glucose can also be created from protein or fat by the liver and kidneys.
Glucose triggers the release of Leptin (the satiety hormone) and insulin that signals the brain that you are full
80% is utilised by your body’s cells and only 20% is stored as glycogen for later use
80% is absorbed by the intestines and 20% is processed by the liver
Fructose naturally occurs in many plants. Fructose is found in whole foods like fruit and vegetables and it can also be consumed in the form of honey, molasses, and maple syrup. In more processed forms, it can be consumed as agave nectar and crystalline fructose, it forms sucrose and high fructose corn syrup.
Does not trigger the release of leptin or insulin, so no matter how much you consume you do not feel full.
It is converted into glycerol, the main component of triglycerides, promoting fat formation.
100% is metabolised by the liver - increasing toxic load.
How to eat sugar
When fructose is consumed moderately in the form of fruits and vegetables, most people break it down easily. A modest amount of fruit and sugar rich vegetables as part of a balanced diet isn’t a problem. It is the ‘added sugar’ that is the problem.
Sugar is Addictive
Sugar can be as addictive as cigarettes, alcohol and narcotics.
Julia Ross an addiction Psychologist who helped develop the 12 step drug and alcohol rehabilitation program in the 1970s. Ten years later they did a follow up of their case study and realised that 90% of the 12 step program attendees had relapsed.
Julia Ross was so disheartened by this she wanted to delve deeper and she understood that addiction was not treatable by psychology and spirituality alone and she wanted to look further into the physiology of addiction.
1980s - she hired dieticians and nutritionists to educate the clients on blood sugar dysregulation which was a genetic epidemic among the addicts.
The clients knew something hopeful was in the air - among those who were able to change their diets had a radical change - a disappearance of their cravings for their substances, whether is was drugs or alcohol - or a combination of the two
The problem was - not many of them could do it as the sugar cravings were almost as intense as the drugs cravings
The best outcome was for the adolescent group as they were in a program that required 100% buy in from their parents and they were required to sit down for two nutritionally dense meals a day with them - their was an 80% recovery rate in this group.
What about food addictions and disordered eating?
First 8 - 10 weeks of the program were very hard for the groups due to intense cravings - however the ones that got through this were happy, healthy, their weight stabilised 30% success rate. 70% on and off.
Clearly there is no ‘quick fix’ for addiction, however the learning is if you can stabilise blood sugar levels and promote a healthy gut flora it is easier to avoid cravings and abstain from addictive substances.
So How do we Quit?
Quit processed foods (cut out anything in a packet, learn to read labels)
Find some go to recipes you can keep on hand - store in freezer
Keep fridge full of fresh fruit and veggies
Have good fats on hand - Butter with Veggies, Coconut oil, Olive Oil, Nuts
Switch to full fat dairy - it is much lower in sugar and helps with satiety
Avoid pre-made sauces (or find some great low processed ones)
Eat savoury breakfasts - leftovers, soups, high protein, fat and veggies.
Ditch fruit juice and soda - switch to herbal teas, Soda water with citrus squeeze, Apple Cider Vinegar with Hot
Stay hydrated - Often you mistake thirst for hunger/ cravings - focus on getting as much liquid in at the start of the day (before you get thirsty)
Get excited about herbs and spices
Know your ‘Safe Sweeteners’
Coconut Milk/ cream
Kumara - and any other sweet root veggies
Whole fruit - Green apples and Blueberries are great
Rice malt syrup in moderation
As a ‘treat’ you can use mild amounts of dried dates, honey, pure maple etc in baking - still treat these as sugar and resort to them instead of binging on packet junk
If you are going to attempt to go sugar-free commit to a 12 week period where you are very strict on yourself - get an accountability partner, or health coach to help you along the way and get prepared for some seriously crappy cravings and bad days. I would recommend you do it in stages. If you come along to a complimentary health history I can talk you through your options. It is hard but it is so worth doing for your ongoing health and to never have to diet again!