Guide to Sugar #6: How to Quit Sugar
At last we come to the last article in the Guide to Sugar series! How to quit sugar. If you’ve been following this series you know how simple sugars and refined carbohydrates can be detrimental to your hormone health, digestive system functioning, and cause inflammation. If you don’t know where to start with improving your diet, limiting candy, white flour, white rice, and other simple carbohydrates is a great start. But of course it’s easier said than done. Which is why I’ve compiled a list of my very best quitting sugar tips and tricks. Quitting sugar is essentially breaking an addiction. It isn’t easy but the benefits are well worth it!
1. Begin by truly understanding why you want to quit sugar. Is it for weight loss? Benefiting your hormones, menstrual cycle, and fertility? Dealing with inflammation? Knowing exactly why you are eliminating sugar and consistently reminding yourself of your goal will help when you’re starting to feel the cravings kick in.
2. To be truly committed you have to remove all temptations. If that means raiding your kitchen and tossing every food product with added sugar away then so be it.
3. At one point or another the cravings for a soda, ice cream, or candy bar will happen. It’s important not to judge yourself at this point. The craving frequency and intensity will definitely lessen as time goes on, but unfortunately it does often take months. It’s important to check in with yourself at this point and see how you are really feeling. Are you tired? Thirsty? Stressed out? Where is the craving coming from? I found it helpful to tap into my competitive nature. Don’t let the sugar win.
4. A huge component of this process that helped me was immediately tell all my friends and family that I was quitting refined sugar. Of course many people will need additional reminders, but getting the support of family and friends was hugely beneficial. It helped to have that extra person advocate for me and help decline birthday cake or thanksgiving pie for me so I didn’t have to say, “No, thanks, I stopped eating sugar” for the millionth time.
5. Keep your blood sugar balanced. Have a protein rich breakfast in the morning (eat within 90 minutes of waking up) and eat every 2-3 hours. It helps to have small, frequent, fiber (or protein and fat) rich meals throughout the day to keep yourself feeling full.
6. Manage stress levels, one of the most common triggers of sugar cravings. Begin a meditation practice in the mornings and practice deep breathing techniques throughout the day to activate the parasympathetic nervous system and reduce cravings.
7. Getting enough sleep is crucial for maintaining proper levels of ghrelin and leptin, the hunger hormones that help regulate appetite and cravings.
8. Exercise daily to help regulate blood sugar levels (and subsequent drops and cravings) as well as stress levels
9. Replacements are crucial. I immediately replaced sweet junk food with real fruit. Yes fruit is still sugar but it is in a healthier form and combined with the fiber and nutrients makes it a far healthier snack. If soda is your weakness, try sparkling water or fizzy water without sugar but natural flavors. The good news is the longer you quit sugar, the more your taste buds recalibrate to the sweet taste. This means naturally sweet things like fruit will taste like candy
10. And lastly, know that removing every gram of refined sugar from your diet will be nearly impossible. It is hidden in a ridiculous amount of foods and used frequently in restaurants. Try not to worry about an accidental gram here or there. After you quit sugar and blood sugar normalizes, a small amount will have less of an overall effect.
If you’d like some extra support with diet, blood sugar regulation, weight loss, or gaining more control over your health, feel free to book a free 15 minute phone consultation with one of our experienced practitioners.