Sweet Memories – Spring 2012 Catalog
Putting Sugar Addictions Behind You
By Nancy Webster
I used to think the best time to go on a diet was May through August, the only months without the temptations of a major, sugar-related holiday. Even then, summer offers apple pie and ice cream on the Fourth and perhaps family birthdays here and there. I also used to think the only reasons I would worry about eating too many treats and desserts were getting fat and getting cavities.
That was years ago, when my youth covered for the regular indulging of my sugar cravings and when I didn’t know about the consequences already taking place in my body—and in my present and future children’s bodies. Yes, I battled ten or fifteen extra pounds, but compared to most overweight people, I reasoned, that wasn’t so bad.
Worse Than I Thought
Sugar-induced weight gain and cavities are only the beginning of problems caused by sugar. Back then, I didn’t know:
- Sugar lowers immunities for six hours because infection-fighting white blood cells get tied up attacking the inflammation sugar causes and can’t protect against strep and other opportunistic germs. (No wonder my family was ravaged by a stomach bug or strep every Christmas season!)
- Sugar encourages the development of cancer and feeds cancer cells.
- Sugar sets your blood sugar levels on a rollercoaster, First, they must go sky high, forcing the pancreas to secrete copious amounts of insulin. Which then drops levels so low and so fast the adrenals have to serve as a trampoline to bounce the levels back up again. Since this happens over and over, the pancreas wears out, and you get diabetes. The adrenals wear out, and you get major hormone problems (even men!). And you and your children go back and forth from dragged-out to hyper, anxious, inattentive, sleep-deprived states.
- Sugar messes up the acid/alkaline and good/bad bacterial balance in your gut, causing a range of problems from indigestion to Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.
- Sugar makes it hard for your body to absorb the protein your eat.
- Sugar is often the culprit behind food allergies.
- About tooth decay: You may not know the truth about how sugar really contributes to dental problems. It’s not because you didn’t brush your teeth well enough. Actually, decay forms because sugar upsets the body’s mineral balance, causing important minerals like calcium to be pulled from the teeth (and bones—think “osteoporosis”). As a result, teeth rot from the inside out.
Any sugar causes these problems, but what’s worse is that almost every sugary food or drink today contains high fructose corn syrup, which weakens the body even more than regular beet or cane sugar.
Some people, including diabetics who follow a conventional doctor’s orders, think they’ll get around sugar’s detrimental effects by switching to artificial sweeteners like aspartame, sucralose, or sugar alcohols like malitol and xylitol. They chose “smart” foods and drink labeled “sugar-free” or “diet”. But research shows that artificial sweeteners not only don’t prevent weight gain, but actually induce a set of physiological and hormonal responses that make people gain weight. Even stevia produces this effect and should be avoided until users get their blood sugar under control.
Although I knew enough to be afraid of sugar subsitutes, as I became more health-conscious, I started replacing white beet sugar with mineral-rich dehydrated cane crystals, raw honey, molasses, and even date sugar and rice syrup. (I never used agave, which because of processing methods, is as harmful as high fructose corn syrup.) I switched frm using white flour (sugar’s close cousin that causes many of the same problems) to fresh-ground, whole wheat four. We cut way back on candy, but we baked as much or more than before. I didn’t know those healthier sweeteners were still hitting our bodies as hard as regular sugar. And I still partied hardy at every holiday and birthday party (I couldn’t resist!).
Where There’s a Will, There’s No Way
I had no idea there was anything besides my (very weak) willpower to help me overcome my love for candy corn, Hershey’s kisses, my mother’s incredible Christmas Cookies, those colored Valentine hearts with corny sayings (especially the yellow ones), chocolate bunnies and jelly beans, much less the ice cream my husband and I shared late at night after the kids were in bed. How could a fresh apple or orange compete with those delicacies?
I had the “white plague”. I was an addict. And no wonder. First of all, everyone has a natural preference for the sweet taste. Second, sugars make us feel good—for a while. As Julia Ross points out in The Diet Cure:
“For some of us, certain foods, particularly ones that are sweet and starchy, can have a drug-like effect, altering our brains’ mood chemistry and fooling us into a false calm, or a temporary energy surge. We can eventually become dependent on these drug-like foods for continued mood lifts.”1
Third, according to research by the Weston A Price Foundation:
“…sugar begets more sugar. Eating sugar clearly throws one’s body chemistry into a tailspin. Tag on poor sleep habits, adrenal fatigue, and an overload of stress, and intense cravings for sugar (or other substance like alcohol or drugs) can easily develop. Insulin imbalances and a lack of the happy-brain chemical called serotonin are often the underlying culprits. Essentially, the sugar being consumed perpetuates the vicious cycle of more intense sugar cravings.”
Except for food memories of special treats and worries about not gratifying my baking friends and family by eating their goodies, I have gotten over my love affair with sugar and white flour. Educating myself on the dangers of sugar addiction was a start, but because I was as physically addicted to sugar as an alcoholic is to alcohol, I needed more help.
Please don’t wait as long as I did to get a handle on your sweet tooth—for your own sake and for your family’s. There are many pleasures you can enjoy more fully when you are healthy and free from sugar addiction. For your long-term health, the most important holiday you may ever take is the holiday you take from sugar—and that’s something to celebrate!
Sugar Free Tips
I have detailed below a collection of tips I used to kick the sugar habit.
Tip 1: The 5-Step Program to replace refined sugar with natural sugar:
1) Eliminate all sugar drinks. Replace them with water, herbal teas, and fermented drinks like kombucha and fermented ginger ale.
2) Next, limit sugar foods to 3x/week. Keep a food journal for accountability and to note how you feel physically.
3) Eat at least three nutrient-dense meals each day, including lots of healthy fats (butter, sour cream, lard, tallow, coconut oil, palm oil, and olive oil). Fats slow the rate at which sugar hits the blood stream and reduce the need for pick-me-up coffee breaks. Fats also satisfy your appetite for a longer time—I eat a spoonful of coconut oil when a craving threatens.
4) Then replace white sugar with natural sugars like maple sugar, dehydrated cane crystals, and raw, unfiltered honey (beware: most grocery store honey is imported from questionable foreign sources and often watered down with sugar and HFCS).
5) Finally, limit the use of natural sugars to 3x,week in moderate amounts. Eat them in conjunction with a whole meal, which lessens the impact on blood sugar levels.
Tip 2: Include fermented foods (like plain yogurt, kefir, lacto-fermented sauerkraut, and fermented drinks) with your meals. Their good bacteria helps offset the sugars you ingest.
Tip 3: Keep tempting foods out of the house.
Tip 4: “Prepare meals with all six tastes: Ayurveda is a six-thousand year old philosophy on life, health, and food preparation. Practitioners of this system believe that when each taste is present in a meal—sweet, sour, salty, bitter, pungent, and astringent—the body becomes more balanced, ultimately minimizing cravings, stabilizing appetite and perfecting digestion.”
Tip 5: Eliminate or at least seriously moderate caffeine use. Caffeine aggravates blood sugar regulation and depletes good-mood neurotransmitters.
Tip6: Get plenty of omega-3 fatty acids as found in cod liver oil. Among other benefits, this helps fight carbohydrate cravings and balances blood sugar.
Tip 7: Try taking an anti-candida product like Beeyoutiful’s Yeast Assassin. A good probiotic (like Tummy Tune-Up or Gut Guardian) also helps overcome the overgrowth of bad bacteria in the gut which make you crave sugars, too. There are some supplements (for sale online and through health food stores) which can be taken temporarily to help manage sugar cravings as you are transitioning to a nutrient-dense, healthy fat-rich diet. These are self-weaning and normally aren’t needed more than three weeks, according to Nora Gedgaudas in her book Primal Body Primal Mind, which recommends dosages and other supplements.
1) L-glutamine, an amino acid, can stop cravings for sweets, starches, and alcohol immediately, because the brain can use L-glutamine instantly for fuel. (Do not use this if you have cancer!)
2) The herb, Gymnema sylvestre, usually eliminates most cravings for sweets.
3) L-tryptophan, another amino acid, helps calm carb cravings and restore serotonin function (“happy mood” hormones), especially when a person is lacking adequate protein.
Tip 8: Get plenty of uninterrupted sleep. Too little sleep affects blood sugar regulation and, when chronic, can lead to diabetes and adrenal fatigue.
Tip 9: Address the emotional reasons you love sugary foods. This is especially important at holiday times, family gatherings, and when you are stressed. Some people wrongly see food as their friend and try to overcome lonely feelings with it. Prayer works wonders here.
Tip 10: Some people overcome cravings and pain by using EFT (Emotional Freedom Techniques), a form of self-administered acupressure explained at www.eft.mercola.com. This is also called “tapping”.
Tip 11: Before tempting social occasions, be a Boy Scout (even if you are a girl!) and “be prepared”. Prepare your mind by replaying why you want and need to eat better. Prepare your body by eating a healthy-fat filled snack like an avocado drizzled with olive and coconut oil dressing, some cooked veggies or eggs slathered in butter, or a spoonful or two of coconut oil. Those measures will help you choose carrot sticks and cheese over cookies and cake.
Tip 12: Use things other than food to reward yourself and your children: A special game, a bubble bath, a movie, an extra chapter in that good book you’re reading, a nature walk, a trinket, etc.
1 Julie Ross, The Diet Cure: The 8-Step Program to Rebalance Your Body Chemistry and End Food Cravings, Weight Problems, and Mood Swings – Now (New York, Penguin Books, 1999), 8.