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It’s high time we talk about a far too common and highly detrimental stress-coping mechanism: reaching for something sweet. Be it in liquid or solid form, if there was ever a food that “stresses from the inside out,” IT’S SUGAR!
Let’s review why sugar is a terrible solution to stress. Stress raises the fat packer hormone cortisol. Eating sugar raises the even more dubious fat packer, insulin. What we thought would be comforting to our stress, then, becomes a source of greater stress, as these two partners in crime work double time to enlarge our belly, waists and thighs. And that’s not all: sugar is an addictive substance, proven only slightly less addictive than cocaine! If you’re like most, chances are you’re currently eating more than the allowable 5-9 teaspoons of sugar a day. (Americans average 23 teaspoons daily). It’s hard to deny that sugar is a major contributor to our obesity, diabetes, cancer and heart disease statistics.
My challenge for you is to find your “peace with sugar.” For most, this means working toward being able to enjoy up to two small sweet treats per day. Cutting back from where you are currently to this level is a very effective measure for kids, and those interested in making positive steps toward better nutrition. But for others who are sick and tired of feeling sick and tired, or find they are unable to be satisfied with this lower level of sweet consumption, a sugar addiction “intervention” is called for - going cold turkey in order to “rewire the brain.”
Previously, I have observed that that going cold turkey - say no sugar for 5 days - results in a pendulum swing and subsequent binge. However, more recently I’ve come to realize that if a person stays off sugar for a longer time - say 30 days - their eyes become opened to HOW MUCH better they feel without it. They also learn that FRUIT perfectly satisfies the urge for something sweet, and they honestly begin “rewiring” their pleasure pathways. They can, then, after 30 days, successfully introduce small amounts of sugar back into their lives (in “small sweet treat” portions below). And this is only if they NEED to, because many find their lives perfectly complete without!
Feel free to take a “30 day no sugar challenge.” You’ll be surprised at how much better you feel, how much control you will gain, AND how it’s really not hard to say “no thank you, fruit is my favorite dessert.” It’s amazing how giving up everything that has added sugar, like granola bars, sweetened yogurt, pancakes with syrup, cookies, cakes, and candy, and simply eating fresh fruit instead...will do wonders for changing how you feel, both mentally (people reporting less “brain fog” and mood swings) and physically (by happily slimming down). I personally have recently given up nearly all sugar for the past 3 months, and I have learned so much, that I can’t wait for you to try it too!
I learned that sugar really is - believe it or not - OPTIONAL! The food industry has infused sugar (or artificial sweeteners) into practically every packaged breakfast, lunch, dinner, snack and beverage, while nature has provided a perfectly delicious REAL substitute for just about EVERY sweet temptation known to man: FRUIT. Check out this substitution chart:
|Instead of this...||Try this...|
|Cherry pie||Fresh or lightly thawed frozen cherries (or for dried cherries, try Eden Foods Montmorency Cherries)|
|Apple pie||Sliced apples sprinkled with cinnamon|
|Cookies||Dried fruit and nuts, or an apple or a pear|
|Cake||Melon wedges or fresh pineapple|
|Brownies||Fresh strawberries (dipped in dark chocolate if you must)|
|Pudding||Organic no sugar added applesauce (try Eden Foods with Strawberry). Add cinnamon, ground flax seed or chia seed.|
|Chocolate bar||1/4 cup of Cocoa nibs, or 1 oz of 60% or higher dark chocolate (NOT “dutch processed” or processed with alkali)|
|Granola bar||Lara bar, Kind bar or nuts and dried fruit|
|Syrup on pancakes||Applesauce or frozen blueberries or strawberries cooked down|
|Sweetened cereal||Unsweetened cereal topped with bananas or berries|
|Oatmeal with sugar||Oatmeal with 1 tsp cinnamon plus raisins or unsweetened coconut|
|Muffin or donut||1/2 whole-grain bagel with peanut butter and fruit only jam (Eden’s organic 100% all fruit butters are amazing)|
|Hard candy||Dried fruit (Again, Eden has the best)|
|Regular soda||Club soda mixed with 100% juice, 75%-25% (Eden’s organic is the best)|
|Jarred spaghetti sauce with sugar||Jarred spaghetti sauce without sugar. My favorite is Eden Foods Organic, available both with and without salt. Talk about REAL.|
I hope you will see that REAL fruit answers nearly every need! However, if you are curious about what is considered a single “small sweet treat” serving, here is a list of possibilities:
No more than two of these treats daily is a good goal, but keep in mind that you can pair a serving of fruit along with any of these sweet treats. If there’s a cup of strawberries on top of your 1/2 cup of ice cream, or an apple to go along with your 3 graham cracker squares, or 10 dried cherries to go along with your one ounce of dark chocolate, then the “small” serving becomes plenty satisfying!
Here’s to conquering your sugar addiction, and slimming down like never before!