How to quit sugar
Quitting sugar has so many wonderful benefits. You feel better, look better, think clearer and lower your risk of a host of nasty diseases.
In spite of all these wonderful benefits, just the thought of living without sugar can make most people nervous! This because sugar is highly addictive and if you are using sugar on a daily basis you need to realise you are a sugar addict.
Sugar addicts are mostly in denial. “I don`t use a lot of sugar” is a sentence I very often hear from people who are addicted to sugar. I hear exactly the same from those who use 3 teaspoons of sugar in every cup of coffee or tea as those who take half a teaspoon in every cup. The reality is, both are addicts in denial. Dried fruit and honey on a daily basis can also cause sugar addiction. Fruit juice daily can do the same. Even agave sugar and coconut sugar can cause a sugar addiction. All of these can raise the blood sugar fast and give you the sugar-high any addict would be craving. None of them should be used on a daily basis.
Quitting sugar can be a huge challenge. You need to plan for it, use your willpower and accept that you might have some withdrawal symptoms. Some people prefer to quit sugar slowly – gradually lower the amount of sugar in their daily life until there is none on a day-to-day basis. Start with excluding sugar after 16:00 in the afternoon and reducing your sugar intake in general. Following that have no sugar after 14:00 and so on until using no sugar at all. Another option is to go cold turkey and simply stop overnight if that is what you prefer.
Both ways can work well. Stopping all sugar at once usually results in a week or 2 of some withdrawal effects and then a brand new person emerges inside out! This works well for most people.
Those who suffer from depression or any mental instability or who simply cannot afford to function on a sub-optimal level for a week or 2 should rather choose the slower route of quitting sugar.
Whichever way you choose, the important thing is to do it!
HOW TO QUIT SUGAR IN 10 STEPS
- Start with your “dos” and not your “don`ts”.
Plan 3 tasty meals a day for a week. The meals must be full of exciting colours and flavours from nature. They must have enough protein and good oils in them to make you feel comfortably full. Your meals should not have any sugar in them.
Have more vegetables than fruit altogether. Have fruit during the morning or early afternoon only.
- Quit everything that raises blood sugar fast
You might need to go through your kitchen and start reading labels.
- Jams, sauces, baked goods, pre-prepared meals, frozen meals and more can all have sugar hidden in them. Stop having all of these. Avoid dried fruit.
- Fruit juice is your enemy. Don`t even dilute it, avoid it completely. Have water with lemon, peppermint and berries etc. instead.
- Starches and anything made with refined flour – even gluten free – can raise your blood sugar fast. Try to avoid starches completely while in the process of quitting sugar. Once you have kicked the addiction you can have healthy starches, daytime only on days you do exercise!
- Avoid all sugar, syrup and honey. Again, after you have kicked the habit you can have the healthy versions like honey from time to time, but not daily. Alternatively you can have xylitol or stevia if you need to sweeten something special you are making (not daily).
- Move every day
The type and intensity of exercise you need to do is very individual. The one thing that applies to everyone is: You need to move. When you move you change the way your body works with sugar and produces energy. Take the stairs instead of the lift. Walk up escalators. Go for a 30-60 minute walk every day if you don`t do any other exercise. Walk uphill or fast for some parts of your walk. If you are not used to any exercise, start slowly. Even a 10 minute walk daily as a start, is better than nothing at all.
- Take a B-complex
Various B-Vitamins have an influence on sugar metabolism and energy production. This can help you make the switch from sugar addiction to living without sugar with less withdrawal symptoms.
- Take chromium to reduce cravings and increase energy:
Chromium has a very significant positive influence on sugar metabolism and energy production. If you have been a sugar addict for a while, it is highly likely that you have developed a deficiency in chromium. It will help you kick the sugar habit and make the switch to a much healthier life faster and easier.
- Take Magnesium at night
Magnesium is involved in blood sugar metabolism and a whole lot more in your body. It can help lessen withdrawal symptoms such as irritability and headaches. On the more positive side it can simply help you sleep well, handle stress better and feel good.
- Drink 2-3 litres of water, rooibos tea or herbal tea in between meals
This is always important, but even more so when you are in the process of quitting sugar. A part of the withdrawal is the body starting to do a spring-clean when sugar is out of the way. The junk will leave faster and smoother if there is enough to rinse it out with! Less feeling bad, more feeling good.
- Reduce your coffee intake to 1-2 cups a day
Excessive coffee intake can have a similar effect to stress on the body. Stress interferes with blood sugar management and healthy energy production.
- Choose small amounts of high quality red wine, if having alcoholic drinks.
Red wine is preferable to beer, white wine and all kinds of other alcoholic drinks. If you quit sugar during the day and have a beer or two every night, you miss the point. The occasional high quality beer or white wine is fine, but definitely not daily. Too much alcohol is very bad for your blood sugar and your health all round.
- Switch all your gadgets off and go to bed at 22:00
On top of our sugar addiction, we have become screen addicts! The screen addiction can interfere with your blood sugar management in 2 ways: Firstly, by keeping you up too late every night and secondly, the blue-light exposure from the screens interfere with your day-night-rhythm. Going to bed late at night and blue-light exposure at night have been shown to have a significant negative effect on blood sugar levels.
Print out a calendar and put it up somewhere you will see it daily. Give yourself golden stars every day you manage to get all of this right. One day a week you can cheat and enjoy it – do not feel guilty! If you cheat more than one day a week, give yourself a red dot. It works like magic. We don`t want red dots, we want stars! You will be rewarded with so much more than golden stars.
Get started now and start looking forward to feeling fabulous, thinking clearer and looking great!