Addressing Your Sugar Demons

This week I’m off on a school trip to Okinawa, so I’ll be featuring what I like to call “The Sugar Series” while I’m traveling. I’m sorry in advance if I’m slow to reply to comments. Enjoy Part 1!

Yes I am demonizing sugar. No I am NOT judging YOU or your food choices. I’m just sharing what it’s like to be on the other – happier, healthier, spiritually liberating – side of sugar addiction. I want the best for you. A few years ago, I would have seen the headline and started to feel guilty about my food choices. It is not your fault! Accept the past, and read on to find out how you can make the choice to have the best future possible! With much love, well wishes, and ZERO judgment xoxo Kate.

My uncle would always call flour “the white devil”. I totally agree, but I would add sugar to that as well. I think sugar is even more insidious than flour in terms of emotional damage and equally damaging as far as physical health. While Wheat Belly pretty much covers it in terms of explaining why flour is no good, sugar has been getting greater attention but still remains a rampant part of our food culture.

I know how damaging sugar can be. I was addicted to it for many many years. Even now, though it’s much more infrequent, when my hormones are out of whack or I’m really tired, sugar will call to me. It’s the devil sitting on my shoulder, tempting me with sweet nothings in a syrupy voice next to my ear. And that’s what you get – nothing but trouble. No nutritional value, no satiety, no emotional wellness or happiness. Sugar tricks you – it is very enticing. And it’s hard to shake your dependence on it. Anyone looking to heal their relationship to sweets should check out Joe’s video on Feeling Terrific. That video has been monumental in my gains toward self-nourishment.  Anyone looking for a guided program to bust sugar and refined carb cravings should definitely get Diane Sanfillipo’s 21 Day Sugar Detox. If you successfully want to transcend your sugar habit, I think you have to address both the emotional side of your dependence and understand the physical consequences of eating sugar. These two resources are a great place to start.

I’ve mentioned how I’ve been free from refined-sugar for two years and sweetener-free due to PCOS for almost one year. I’ll never go back to refined sugar, and I hope to always use any sweetener in a limited fashion with extreme caution. Sugar messes with my sleep, makes me SO irritable (I could get annoyed with a saint when I’ve had sugar), it makes me tired, drains my energy, and leaves me in a cycle of craving more sugar and overeating. Oh and I get anxious. Sometimes even weepy. Worst of all, it totally throws my blood sugar for a loop. That’s especially bad for someone with PCOS.

Blood sugar is important. Most people on a Standard American Diet (SAD) have terrible blood sugar regulation, which is why we are seeing a diabetes epidemic. Aside from major health problems like diabetes, cancer, female hormone dysregulation, etc, sugar just makes you feel bad. Who wants to be sick AND unhappy? Uhy.

Refined and packaged foods, as well as most retail beverages, contain tons and tons of sugar – way more than anyone should consume or need. Check out Diane’s excellent guide on sugars, showing you how to detect hidden sugar in packaged foods (or hey! ditch the packages all together) and what natural sugars to consume in moderation. Whole foods based sweeteners,  as usual, are the best way to go. A lot of people focus on what FOOD has to be eliminated from their lives rather than what they can gain in terms of HEALTH and EMOTION. But the benefits of living without a sugar addiction are almost too numerous to count. Here were some of the major benefits I saw, in addition to the physical ones like better skin & blood sugar regulation:
- no more intensely powerful cravings. Sometimes I felt like I was a puppet literally being controlled
- less irritability and more patience
- better sleep
- more stable moods
- easier to be thankful
- easier to choose to practice good habits in pursuit of health/healing
- easier to enjoy life
- easier to prioritize health, be thoughtful and consider how the body feels rather than what the brain wants

We THINK it will be harder, but actually when you cut out sugar, everything gets easier! So just quit thinking and go for it!

I’ve weaned myself off sugar. I realize that cravings are mostly in my head or emotionally-based. My body doesn’t really want sugar. My brain thinks I “need” a boost or I want to rationalize sugar as a shot of energy on a rough day. But I know I would feel worse if I ate it. That’s what keeps me away. Now that I am off sugar, I don’t crave it 98% of the time. When my hormones get all wonky, then I’m more susceptible. But we all are susceptible, especially if we eat a lot of refined foods, which have so much hidden sugar, have adrenal fatigue, are wigged out on caffeine for most of our day, or are just plain tired. Getting out from underneath the trap of sugar is as much about setting yourself up for success with supportive, healthy habits. You have to get quality sleep, remove stressors from your lifestyle, and eat an unrefined, whole foods based diet.

  • Start a nourishment menu. Ask yourself, what form of nourishment do I need right now? Emotional? Physical? Spiritual?
  • Get enough sleep. It’s much much harder to quit sugar if you aren’t sleeping well.
  • Drink enough  water, ditching energy drinks or anything unnatural
  • Have lots of prepared, whole foods options to eat instead of sugary snacks

When I was liberating myself from toxic sugar, I would snack on bell peppers, carrots, and cucumbers – all pre-cut and ready to go. I liked to eat bananas & raspberries cut up together for dessert. Make sure you have enough healthy fat in your diet. Sleep is one of THE most important things you can do. We are tired, wired, and dehydrated, and it is considered the norm. Prioritize sleep, ease back on caffeine, and realized that a lot of your cravings could be coming from dehydration, lack of nutrient dense foods in your diet, and emotional needs rather than physical ones. Remember, you deserve it.

Craving Buster Coconut Bites
I’ve been hearing lots of anecdotal evidence on podcasts and other sites that eating lots of healthy fats – coconut, avocado, lard, even ghee or grass-fed butter for some – helps bust sugar cravings. These pretty little orbs of coconut goodness are a great way for me to get a shot of energy during the occasional afternoon slump, or quiet the hormonal craving demons when they show up mid-month. And dead simple to make. Coconut butter to the rescue!

  • Take a teaspoon of coconut butter to satiate yourself when you have powerful cravings
  • Or, mix 2 parts coconut butter with 1 part coconut oil. Pour into bite-sized candy molds and freeze. This method is a great way to take them to work ~ I put them in the fridge and they are semi-thawed by the mid-afternoon, which is when I need a pick-me-up some days!