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Sugar – 10 Tips to Kick it to the Curb

Sugar cravings are for real!

As a personal trainer in my Sandpoint fitness studio one of the toughest things I see clients work through is their addiction to sugar.  Maybe it will bring you comfort to know that it is not the craving that “makes” you make bad choices.  It is the higher brain that makes these decisions and that is a pretty powerful driver.  Your cravings are not just a weakness of willpower.  There is an actual brain chemistry that drive your need to nosh on carbs in the evening or start out eating just one Oreo and suddenly downing the whole bag.  There are  little receptors in the brain, the dopamine receptor,that  must be activated or switched on for us to feel pleasure. The amino acid dopamine triggers this response. Sugar and other stimulating addictions increase dopamine in the short term.   Did you know that sugar turns on the same area of the brain as cocaine, alcohol, shopping (yes, that rush of finding a great deal is addictive!). Have you ever noticed  that the more sugar or processed food you consume, the more you want ?  I am sure if you haven’t noticed yet, you will soon 😉  Addiction hijacks the brain and takes control of your urges.  Even smells (the bakery or food in the fryer)  and sights (commercials) can trigger these pleasure centers in the brain.

Think of it like this…Anything you train your brain to do it, it will do.  If you act on an urge every time it comes along, well, it will just keep coming along.  The brain etches out stronger pathways to fulfilling this behavior. This process is much like a baby that gets picked up every time it cries. Sugar When you stop acting on an urge every time it comes up, you will stop strengthening it.  It’s much like building a muscle.   When you stop building a pathway, or create a new one, the old one will  get “quieter” and the new one will be developed.

sugar gummy candy

 

Now, I realize this is much easier said than done so we are going to give you some actionable tips to help overcome these urges and create new ones.  While some people are “cold turkey-ers” sugar has a such addictive properties that it may be best to make some swaps

Tips to Kick it!

1) Balance your blood sugar

One of the most important things you can do to squelch cravings is to keep your blood sugars balanced. Plenty of vegetable carbohydrates, protein and some healthy fat will keep blood sugar in check . Read this article to find out how to fill your plate.

2) Reduce (dare I say eliminate?) processed food

Processed and chemically created foods can enhance cravings greatly (this is why “no one can eat just one” – this was no accident).  Swapcorn syrup, aspartame and Splenda for natural sweeteners such as honey, stevia, fruit or maple syrup.  MSG is another additive that can make you have voracious cravings.

3) Grow some good gut bacteria

Poor gut bacteria can drive you to binge as well.  Try eliminating gluten (which can cause gut inflammation) or add in gut healing foods such as homemade bone broth or sauerkraut.

4) Get a little help weaning off sugar

Sometimes when first coming off of sugar, you may need a little help.  While I don’t typically recommend many supplements, I know that sugar is a tough one to walk away from so many of us can use a little help at the beginning.   Goodbye Cravings can be taken before meals to help calm down the desire for foods containing lots of carbs. It contains Glutamine, tyrosine, 5-HTP; amino acids that help reduce cravings.

5) Get seratonin back on track

In some cases, a lack of seratonin can cause strong cravings and hunger.  People that have trouble sleeping, suffer with depression or have extremely strong cravings for sugar can be deficient in seratonin.  Foods that ca help are animal proteins (try 3 oz at snacks and 5 oz at meals

6) Move it

Exercise is proven to reduce the urge to binge and cravings.  Avoid chronic cardio (long distance running everyday) but veer toward strength training, high intensity interval training and long, low intensity walking.

7) Plan a preemptive strike

If there is a particular time of day that you find yourself craving, check in with your prior meal.  Was it processed, full of carb of full of hidden sugars?  This can cause a crash in energy level and then a very strong desire to scarf! If there is a particular time of day that you tend to binge, plan to have a balanced snack about and hour before.  Think about what you will eat at that time of day so the old habits don’t take over

Before you go on… If you think you’ll need more help getting rid of sugar I have a solution for you:

10 Day Sugar Detox. Get daily e-mails to guide you through the process

10 Day Sugar Detox. Get an E-book daily e-mails to guide you through the process

 

8) Use food as medicine

These foods can increase levels of seratonin:
1) Free Range Turkey
2) Flaxseed/ Flaxseed Oil
3) Buckwheat
4) Wild Fish and Sea food
5) Whey protein
6) Bananas
7) High quality Eggs
8) Sour Cherries
9) Free Range Beef
10) Dark Chocolate

9) ZZZZZZZzzzzz….

Get plenty of sleep.  Lack of sleep, causing fatigue, can cause us to run to carbs and sugars for energy.  Try to move your bedtime earlier by 15 minutes a week until you are getting about 7 hours per night.

10) Make sure you are getting enough vitamin D

When Vitamin D levels are low, the hormone that helps turn off your appetite (Leptin)  doesn’t work and people feel hungry all the time, no matter how much they eat. If you live in the north it is likely that you will have to supplement because vitamin D is not available from the sun unless it is at least 50 degrees high in the sky.  Here is a little tool to help:  If your shadow is longer than you are tall, the sun is too low to extract vitamin D from.  Here in North Idaho, we can’t get vitamin D from the months of October thru April.  Liquid Vitamin D3 it is – my favorite brand can be found HERE