Last week, a friend asked me an effective way to stop eating sugar without feeling deprived. Unbeknownst to her I was indulging daily on chocolate just like her! Fortunately my chocolate was certified organic, dark and free-trade. But that doesn't excuse the fact that I was eating refined sugar - when I knew better.
Sugar is a drug. Studies suggest that it is as addicting as cocaine and heroin. I believe it.
Sugar sends us on a temporary "sugar high" that disrupts and spikes insulin levels. High levels of insulin promote fat storage and prevent the use of fat as fuel. Plus it sets us up for an energy crash a couple of hours later. When we crash, we search for something to pick us back up - this is usually more sugar. And the cycle continues. This insulin disruption has been proven to cause or be a factor in:
- obesity and weight gain
- depression (incl. Season Affective Disorder)
- sleep disturbance
In the long-term:
- Heart disease
- Premature aging
- Arthritis and osteoporosis
1. Eat 5 times a day (3 meals and 2 snacks).
This involves planning and probably carrying some of your meals or snacks with you. By eating this way you will never find yourself in a state of low blood-sugar where you will crave something sweet to pick you up.
2. Do not eat carbs by themselves.
Generally, eating a carb by itself is setting yourself up for a blood-sugar crash later. People who eat a bagel or doughnut for breakfast, for instance, are setting themselves up for an energy crash in the late morning. Most likely they will later fuel themselves on more sugar or caffeine.
To avoid this, pay attention to the glycemic index of your meals. If the meal is higher on the index, the faster that food will convert into blood-sugar. The faster the conversion, the more insulin your body will have to make and the harder it will be to maintain homeostasis. Eat your carbs with a protein and do not fear consuming fat.
Fat slows the entry rate of sugar into the bloodstream. It eliminates the sugar rush. It stops the crash that would come later. Fat can help you lose weight! (Other factors influencing glycemic index include: fiber, metabolic type/biochemical individuality, activity level and age.)
For meal planning ideas, check out the Healthy Urban Kitchen Cookbook.
3. Supplement with L-glutamine.
L-glutamine is an amino acid that can stop cravings for sweets and alcohol (also a sugar). Take between 500mg - 1g between meals. If you're jonesing for something sweet, take a scoop of powder or open 1 capsule and let it dissolve on your tongue.
Try these tips and let me know how they work out for you!
The day my friend asked me for this information was my last day of chocolate excess. As I was dishing out advice, I knew it was time to take my own and get real with myself . :-) First 2 days of "chocolate detox" weren't my best. But now, I can walk down the chocolate aisle at Whole Foods without feeling deprived.