An Australian Health Survey from 2011-2012 found that Australians on average consume approximately 60 grams of sugar daily; equivalent to 14 teaspoons of white sugar. These statistics confirm that nationwide, Australians are consuming more than the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) recommended daily consumption for ‘free sugars1’ (sugars added by manufacturers) to account for less than 10% of total energy intake (approx. 50 grams/12 teaspoons). This is vital to the prevention of unhealthy weight gain and dental cavities.
As the country increases its sugar intake, the sugar industry becomes a multi-billion-dollar market and as our addiction grows, so does this booming market.
Sugar is strongly associated with the current obesity epidemic and chronic disease including cardiovascular disease, cancer, dementia, depression, type 2 diabetes, acne and infertility. There, you may be asking yourself, is sugar bad, and more importantly, why is sugar bad for you?
Sugar Addiction: Stop Cravings Through A Sugar Detox
Sugar addiction doesn’t just boil down to a product of emotional eating patterns; it is a biological disorder driven by neurotransmitters. Sugar stimulates the reward centre of our brain, releasing dopamine (the feel-good hormone). Additionally, hormones such as ghrelin and leptin fuel sugar and carbohydrate cravings, potentially leading to uncontrolled over-indulgence of foods.
You’re probably now wondering how to stop sugar cravings, and how to detox from sugar, especially when sugar has been touted to be 8 times more addictive than cocaine.
The only way to stop the cravings is to stop the addictive cycle that eating excess sugar causes, through the development of methods to detox from sugar. As harsh as it sounds, going cold turkey seems to be the most effective way. I’m not saying it will be easy, however, you could start by removing all the packaged/processed food from your home. Reading labels is helpful; however, sugar comes under several different monikers. Consequently, it may be best to just stick with fresh whole foods. The good news is that studies have shown that our bodies can be free of this addiction within 7-10 days of going cold turkey. Practicing mindful eating is just one strategy in overcoming a sugar addiction.
How will stopping sugar help me lose weight?
When you eat sugar or white flour products this increases your levels of insulin. Insulin is a hormone produced by your pancreas that moves sugar from your blood into your cells, where it can be used for energy. Insulin is also involved in energy storage, telling your cells whether to store energy as fat or glycogen, the storage form of glucose. High blood sugar levels impair normal cellular function and promotes inflammation, increasing insulin resistance.
Even though these cells grow resistant to insulin’s effect on blood sugar, they unfortunately remain responsive to insulin’s role in storing fat, increasing fat storage. Herein lies the association with increased abdominal fat. This is just one of the many benefits of giving up sugar, as it also can help you lose weight without exercising.
What can happen to your body when you give up sugar?
Withdrawal symptoms may occur when you quit sugar and for every individual the experience will be different. Some may feel changes in their mood. Some individuals may feel down or experience a lack of enjoyment in everyday tasks. As you withdraw from sugar it may make some feel nervous, restless or anxious. Irritability is also common, leaving you with a shorter fuse than normal. You may find difficulties in falling asleep or staying asleep. There may also be difficulties focusing or concentrating at times. Physically speaking, it is common to experience headaches and fatigue.
How do You Quit Eating Sugar?
- Go Cold Turkey.
- Drink only water or unsweetened teas. Don’t drink your calories, as they convert to fat faster than solid foods. Avoid soft drinks, juices, sports drinks, sweetened teas or coffee. Water will also keep you hydrated and help combat any headaches and lethargy that you may feel as a result of quitting sugar.
- Eat the right carbohydrates, including vegetables. Non-starchy vegetables are best with an emphasis on greens.
- Eat good quality protein as this will help balance your blood sugar levels and reduce sugar cravings.
- Eat good fats. They will help regulate blood sugar levels and keep you satiated. Think nut butters, nuts and seeds, avocados and wild caught seafood.
- Reduce inflammation. A common cause of inflammation is food sensitivities, so try initially to remove common intolerances like gluten and dairy and see how you feel.
- Be kind to yourself. Go for walks if feeling on edge, or if you are experiencing cravings, yoga and meditation will help improve your mood. It can also assist with relaxation, reducing stress and initiating sleep.
How Can The hCG Diet Help Me To Quit Sugar For Good?
A hCG diet is a great stepping stone for those that are looking for help with cutting sugar out or quitting sugar for good, especially during phase 3 of the program where we incorporate additional foods into the diet that will provide fuel while, also protecting against rebound weight gain. Rebound weight gain is by far one of the trickiest challenges to address when it comes to weight loss.
This is due to what we refer to as your “weight set point”, the set point is different for everyone and is influenced by several things including hormones, genetics, behaviour, and the environment. Consistently, your metabolism will burn energy at a rate in which it maintains your set point regardless of whether that set point is heavier than what is deemed to be healthy.
By completing phase 3 of the program not only are you establishing new healthier eating patterns, you are quitting sugar and changing your “weight set point”. After losing weight during phase 2 it is now time to establish your new weight so that your metabolism and new weight start working together to maintain the loss for years to come.
While completing phase 3 it is important to stay on track and to not return to old eating patterns and behaviours. We have worked hard to formulate a plan that limits sugar intake, artificial sweeteners, and starches but does not compromise on taste or nutrition to help with this transition.
Take the time to be mindful of what you are eating, when you are eating and of course of how much you are eating. Make this a long-term commitment towards better health and before too long you will have mastered how to quit sugar, for good.
Exercise, schedule exercise into your day and make it movement that you enjoy, this will help ensure that you are more likely to form better, more consistent habits around exercise. Manage stress through meditation, breathing exercises and ensure that you are getting adequate sleep. Make your body work for you instead of against you.
Adv Dip Health Science Naturopathy
ANTA Member 4148