Its time for Part 2 in the sugar series. How to quit or at least cut down. I am working on the cut down principle myself. A life without cake is just unimaginable! I want to know how much sugar I am eating and where it is coming from, hence the work in Part 1 on finding out where our sugar intake comes from. If you want to quit sugar right here and now, do it! Just stop eating it. Cold turkey! Throw out everything in your cupboards that contains it. Check and control everything you eat, simply avoid all refined sugars from now on. Unless you give up fruit then natural sugar will be hard to avoid. It is possible to do it. Make sure you let everyone around you know that you are on this mission so they can support you through what could be a bumpy few days. This is not for me though. I love sweet things so I am just going to take control of my sugar intake.
Sugar Can Aggravate These Conditions
- Acid Refulx
- Irritable Bowl Syndrome
- Joint pain
- Glycation – loss of skin elasticity and plumpness. This is the scary one for all of us who are trying to keep our skin looking good. A book, Eat Pretty by Jolene Hart is featured on the Love To Read spot this week. Beauty from the inside out.
“If there is too much sugar in the body, protein molecules can cross-link with sugar molecules.1 Once this cross-linking process has occurred, the new sugar proteins are called advanced glycation end products (AGEs). The human body does not recognize AGEs as normal, and will produce antibodies that cause inflammation in the skin. Once formed, AGEs tend to gravitate toward dermal collagen and elastin. As people age, proteins in the body can become damaged through the introduction of AGEs—one of the key factors in aging of the skin. The more sugar you eat, whether processed or natural, the more AGEs are produced. When the body is overwhelmed with AGEs, collagen becomes compromised. Effects of the glycation process at the cellular level of the skin’s structure may result in wrinkling, loss of elasticity, stiffness, accelerated aging and compromised barrier function. You can read lots more on this subject here“
What Do You Eat??
Keeping a food diary for a week or two is the first step to conquering sugar. You will be able work out when your body starts to crave sugar and how you react to that. You will become aware if it is a sugar craving or if you are eating sugar out of a habit. For example, a biscuit or chocolate with your morning coffee whether you are hungry or not. You will become aware of any lifestyle triggers that cause you to crave sugar.
- What you eat and drink during a day and at what times
- Note the sugar content from the labels of packaged food including drinks
- Times of the day when you get a sugar craving. Such as mid morning or late afternoon, what you do to satisfy it then how long before you crave another sugar hit
- How well you sleep during your diary week
- Note any emotional or stressful events that occur during your diary week and whether you react to these by eating and what you eat! Such as a bad day at the office so you treat yourself to a muffin on the way home
- When or if you have skipped any meals.
Here is a Really Useful Food Diary you can download, print and use.
How To Keep Sugar Cravings Away
- Eat a protein rich diet
- Keep yourself hydrated by drinking water regularly during the day
- Keep your probiotic levels up. Foods high in probiotics are Asparagus, banana, garlic, natural yogurt and honey.
- Eat more healthy fats such as nuts, seeds, avocado, coconut oil, oak smoked salmon, mackerel, olive oil, hummus and sweet potato, eggs and nut butters
- Don’t skip meals. Low blood sugar levels increases sugar cravings
- Eat low GI option foods such as brown bread, brown pasta and brown rice, spelt pasta (“The Glycaemic Index (GI) is a ranking of carbohydrate containing foods based on the overall effect on blood glucose levels. Slowly absorbed foods have a low GI rating, while foods that are more quickly absorbed have a higher rating”)
- Don’t shop while you are hungry or tired
- Get plenty of regular exercise
- Get plenty vitamin D from Salmon, mackerel and trout, beef liver and egg yolks or from 15-20 minutes out in the sunshine each day (could be a little tricky in some places!)
- Eat a Chromium rich diet. Broccoli, green beans and bananas are rich in chromium which is good for balancing blood sugar levels
If you do get desperate for something sweet try a piece of dark chocolate with a very high cocoa content. 85% cocoa is perfect. I have only found a 70% option so far in my local supermarket but I am on the hunt for a brand with a higher content whilst also checking the sugar content per 100gms. I am looking into Hotel Chocolat, unfortunately I cannot find their sugar content at present but they do have some products claiming to be 100% cocoa with no ‘no added sugar’ – I will report on this when I can get my hands on some! A very small amount of natural, not refined, honey on a little spelt wheat cracker is also a tasty sweet snack. A Really Useful little test to check honey quality is to drop a spoonful in water, if it dissolves it’s refined. If it sinks to the bottom its natural!
A little word on artificial sweeteners, NO! A blog post on those bad boys coming later! Be kind to yourself and be positive. If you think it's hard, it will be! Click To Tweet Don’t berate yourself if you fall off the wagon. Just get back on knowing you are doing your best and are on the right track to get control over your sugar intake to keep yourself as healthy as you possibly can. Let me know if you have tried to cut down on your sugar intake and how you did it.