Top 7 Strategies to Curb Sugar Cravings

brain health healthy eating healthy living healthy recipes real food resilience sugarfree Feb 26, 2022

How and why you should avoid the Gruesome Twosome, Sugar and Processed Carbs, which can cause blood sugar fluctuations, irritate the gut, set up an autoimmune/inflammatory response in the body, induce brain fog and lead to many symptoms of today’s chronic ailments.

Sugar is one of the most addictive substances on the planet!

It was brought to Europe from the east in the 1100s, and was a prized and popular delicacy in the 1600s.  

The extraction process to create sugar leaves a potent, crystallized concentrate, not unlike cocaine or opium. In fact it is believed to be even more addictive than cocaine!  Corn, sugarcane, beets (sources of sugar) and grains (flour) have naturally occurring fibre, vitamins and minerals, but these beneficial nutrients are discarded in processing.  

Sugar in a variety of forms (such as HFCS - high fructose corn syrup) is added to most processed foods to both increase shelf-life and to increase flavour, especially now as fat and gluten are often reduced.

Sugar and refined flour combined, commonly found in breads, cereals, baked goods, desserts, are doubly addictive.  They are NOT REALLY FOODS!  Rather they are food PRODUCTS that are more like drugs with mood altering qualities.  

Sweet foods taste great! They give us comfort and act like endorphins to feel good.  Just think:  when you are feeling in the need of a pick-me-up or mood lifter, what do you reach for?  Often high-carb food products!  Our consumption of sugar has increased from 25 to 125 pounds in 100 years, increased 30% in the last 30 years, and is a primary cause of the fastest-growing disease in the world, diabetes; as well the incidence of depression has more than doubled.

Both sugar and refined flour are very addictive.

Addictive substances are very attractive because they allow us to feel better, feel “happy” and stress-free.  BUT these good feelings will not last, leading us to want more and more, leading to cravings and setting up a cycle of repetition called addiction. 

And our addictions can be hard to resist!

Often “addicts” (including those who crave sweets and carbs) are considered to be indulgent, lacking in willpower or morally weak, leading to much shame, self-blame and societal stigma.  But this is not true–cravings are actually a physiological survival mechanism, hardwired into our brains from a time when life first appeared on the planet.

So the specific addiction then becomes a habit that rewires the brain to support itself, making it even stronger. The good news is that neuroscience now shows that the brain will cut neural networks no longer used and form new ones!  This means that by noticing the urge to behave in a way you’d rather not, and then interrupting it with another behaviour, the old pathway can be replaced with a new, more desirable habit.  For example, instead of reaching for a high sugar treat like a carrot muffin, choose raw carrots and hummus instead!

“No one can exert cognitive inhibition, willpower, over a biochemical drive that goes on every minute, of every day, of every year.” ~ Dr. Robert H. Lustig

When it comes to overcoming the urge for something sweet, there are several alternatives we can choose.  Have some of these handy in the fridge as alternatives to that chocolate cake, or glass of wine!

Better yet, include these in your regular meal plans to stave off your sugar cravings before they can take hold of your brain!

Here are my Top 7 Strategies to incorporate into recipes and menu planning, to help get over your sugar cravings:   

7 WAYS TO GET THE SUGAR OUT!

  1. SWITCH UP YOUR CARBS! Replace sugar and processed grains with other low-glycemic, high-fibre PLANT-RICH foods. Let these nutrient-dense and fibre-rich, RAINBOW OF CHOICES make up at least 2/3 of your plate at every meal (including breakfast!). Make extra servings of salads and veggies to supplement any meal as needed.  Find vegetable replacements where you used to use bread, baked goods, pasta or other starchy carbs!  Note that grain-free baked goods are OK as a treat.
  2. Keep WELL HYDRATED!  Lots of water, herbal teas, bone broth, up to 2 to 3 litres per day.  Did you know that when you feel “hungry” you may actually be dehydrated and feeling thirsty?  Our bodies are 70% water, and we lose it daily through elimination  and sweating - so we need to replace it!  And good hydration will help stave off any withdrawal symptoms as you let go of sugar!
  3. FAT IS YOUR FRIEND!  Focus on high quality, healthy fats to help satiate you.  Contrary to the marketing of the anti-fat industry, fats and oils are not bad for you. They don't cause cancer or give you heart disease.  Our bodies need fat to survive, everything from building new brain tissues and hormones to help us absorb the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K.  That doesn’t mean to go wild over French Fries or other “trans fats”–rather it means to consume real, healthy, energizing fats found in their whole form, in nature.  So what are healthy natural fats?   My favourites are: avocados, olive oil, coconut oil, nut & seed butters, and ghee.
  4. Include CLEAN PROTEIN at every meal and snack. Wean yourself off dairy or use only occasionally as a treat, and only as tolerated (i.e.goat cheese, instead of cow).  Protein is another essential macronutrient, and is the main component used to build tissues of our body.  Proteins are broken down into amino acids during digestion, which are then absorbed, and then recombined to make new proteins to serve a variety of essential functions in the body: muscles, skin, bones, hormones, enzymes.  Proteins are essential for growth and repair and play a starring role in virtually all biological processes in the body.
  5. Add HERBS AND SPICES to boost the flavour and nutritional value of your meals. When we first take sugar out of our diets, our food may seem rather bland by comparison.  This is because our taste buds have been hijacked to only sense two kinds of tastes, sweet and also salty.  But there are other flavours (a.k.a.tastes) to enjoy!  Did you know that ancient Ayurvedic medicine defines 6 different tastes?  And Traditional Chinese Medicine identifies five?  (More about these in a future blog!)  When we remove or reduce sugar,  our taste buds will adapt so that we can enjoy the natural flavours of our food.  In other words, there’s no need to sprinkle sugar on top of freshly picked strawberries!  However we can still enhance the flavour of our food by adding plant foods such as herbs and spices.  My favourites are herbs like basil, parsley, as well as garlic, curry and lemon juice.  And in addition you are adding nutrients that will promote the health of your body.
  6. Add FERMENTED FOODS to improve the health of your gut friendly bacteria.  Cultures around the world have used fermentation for thousands of years, and each region has its own fermented specialty. From tempeh to kimchi to kefir and beyond, fermented foods have played an important role in our health.  Fermentation was likely discovered accidentally and recognized as a process to help preserve food for longer (that’s why it was often used in the days before refrigeration).   Beneficial microorganisms like yeast, bacteria and mould are all around us. When we put them in an environment where they can proliferate and thrive, fermentation will happen!  My recommendation is to include fermented foods at least once or twice a day: for example, add sauerkraut as a condiment to your protein, or one choice of veggie in your salad.  But start small and let your gut build up its tolerance.
  7. READ FOOD LABELS and REMOVE REFINED SUGARS AND PROCESSED FLOURS including those with chemical names you can’t pronounce!  Did you know there are more than 60 names for Sugar?  Often different “kinds” of sugar, with different names are used on a label to hide the true amount of sugar in the product.  And this doesn’t mean you need to give up on adding sweetness to your recipes completely.  Here are some healthier alternatives to refined sugar.  Make sure you incorporate them into recipes, never eat them alone!  (But NEVER artificial sweeteners which we now know are toxic to the brain!)
    • Maple syrup
    • Raw honey
    • Applesauce
    • Dates
    • Coconut sugar
    • Stevia

Want to know more about how to Get the Sugar Out?  

OK, OK, we all know we need to do this, we’ve all tried to make healthier choices, but it’s not easy!  

Here’s where this short (7 days) group program (lots of ideas and community support) can help YOU!

“7 Days to Get the Sugar Out!”  A Culinary Nutrition Program ~ featuring the top 7 Cravings-Busting Strategies

Learn more HERE!

  • In just 7 days, you will get over the hump, past the withdrawal (and I will show you how to minimize that) and feel better in your mind and body!
  • In just 7 days you will have new recipes, start (or re-learn) the habit of meal prepping, and have your body thanking you for making this commitment to your health!
  • In just 7 days you will shake off the winter blahs and be ready for spring!

Here’s what the program includes:

  • Live 90-minute WORKSHOP, demonstrating featured recipes on Sunday, March 6, 4:30 - 6:00 pm ET
  • Follow along with me in your own kitchen!  Or simply watch and plan your cooking session for later.  
  • 7 days of short check-ins and DAILY health tips
  • Lifetime access to all recordings and materials
  • Three 7-day meal plans (two x Mediterranean and Vegetarian, plus Paleo modifications), recipes and shopping lists
  • "Get the Sugar Out" eBook with lots of science-based information and recommendations
  • PLUS ongoing community support
  • Optional FB group and challenge

Join NOW!

  • 2 for 1 special: Get your spouse/partner (same household) to join with you!
  • “Friends Group” Challenge - gather two friends and you will each get a 10% discount
  • Are you a “7 Days” Alumni?  Send me a message and I will add you to this round, which will include some NEW recipes, at no charge!

 

Only $39 - who could say “no”?

 

Starts March 6 with a LIVE Culinary Nutrition Workshop

Sign Up HERE!

And if you’re on FaceBook, check me out this week as I run through the 7 strategies every afternoon for a week! 

 

 A "7 Days" Recipe:  Chicken Rainbow Curry

  • Makes 4 - 5 servings, 
  • 45 minutes

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp ghee
  • 2 - 3 medium onions, chopped
  • 1 medium sweet potato, chopped
  • 1 red pepper, chopped
  • 1 yellow pepper, chopped
  • 1 can full fat coconut milk
  • 1 tbsp red curry paste, or to taste
  • 1 cup peas, can be frozen
  • 1 cup kale, chopped, can be frozen
  • 1 lb. cooked chicken, chopped
  • ¼ water, or as needed for desired consistency

Directions

  1. Heat the ghee in a large soup pan.
  2. Add the onion and cook until soft, about 5 minutes.
  3. Add the sweet potato, and continue cooking for another 10 minutes.
  4. Add the peppers, coconut milk and red curry paste, and continue cooking for another 10 minutes.
  5. Add the peas and kale, and continue cooking for another 10 minutes.
  6. Add the cooked chicken, and continue cooking for another 5 minutes.
  7. Serve and enjoy!

Notes

  • Add additional spices to taste
  • Vary the veggies or proteins according to what you have on hand - put make sure you use a variety of colours!
  • Can be frozen for later enjoyment.

 

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