Why the hell bells am I talking about SUGAR when in all other senses I don’t talk about food at all. I look at mindset, not what’s on your plate – so what’s going on here?
Sugar and processed foods are the only foodie things I talk about here and that’s because I firmly believe that these affect how we feel. They affect our moods man! Sugar can make you feel angry and sad, seriously. So if you think “I’m just depressed, I have no willpower!” I really want you to take a look at sugar and see that it’s making you feel this way. When I talk about sugar and processed crap, it’s only to give you a good base of knowledge so you can trot off into your life and make some firm decisions about how YOU want to feel, be, do etc. If you KNOW in your bones that sugar makes you feel crap, then that’s fine – but now you can make a decision about it. And I’m all for making decisions because that is powerful. I don’t care if you eat sugar or not! I care that you feel good with what you are choosing for YOU, not for anyone else.
Alright? Alright! Let’s goooo……
I’ve been giving talks recently, entitled LOW SUGAR LIVING, and after going into detail about how fructose and glucose in excess can damage our health, people obviously want to know two things: ‘What do I eat?’ and, ‘How can I get there?’
I’m going to answer the second question in this article – ‘How can I get there? – How can I get to living low sugar?’
If you want to go cold turkey, and you know what you need to avoid – then go for it. If you want to find a different route to low sugar living, then these 5 steps will get you there. They will allow you to adjust, one step at a time away from foods that prime the cravings for hard sugar. These steps will allow your taste buds to alter naturally along the way.
So let’s go!
Step 1: DON’T DRINK IT.
Drinking your sugar is a sure fire way to absolutely flood your body with fibreless, direct hit sugar. This stuff goes straight to work on turning into visceral fat and coating your organs. Cutting out drink as the first step will cut out such a huge portion of your sugar intake all at once, that your body will feel the benefits as soon as you stop.
Isn’t this a bit drastic? Didn’t I say this would be a slower way to get into low sugar living? Perhaps. As I see it, drinking sugar doesn’t really have a place within the low sugar lifestyle. It’s a bad habit. We don’t need to drink sugar. The sooner the habit of putting glass to mouth can stop, the better it will be for you. If you are a pop or soft drink guzzler, then chances are that you are pretty hooked on sugar.
So no pop or juices! No apple juice, pineapple juice, mango juice, orange juice etc.
No cola, lemonade, gingerade, anything sweet and fizzy.
Alcohol – watch your intake of all alcohols. Cut out completely if you want to make a huge change to your health. I drink a glass of red wine roughly once every two weeks.
Herbal Tea is a perfect drink! It has flavour, it is warm and comforting, and it’s tasty. I love my herbal tea! Nettle, Fennel, Fruit Combos, Detox combos, Lemon and Ginger, Peppermint mixes, even cocoa teas. There’s a lot of choice, and I highly suggest trying as many as you can to see what flavours you enjoy the most. Even non-sweet cocoa drinks with plant milk is a lovely treat, that gives you hydration too.
Don’t substitute caffeinated tea and coffee for water. These are quite potent drinks. You do not need caffeine as much as you think you do. Sometimes it’s simply a bad habit to think that you can’t wake up without it. That’s not the case at all, you are completely able to wake up without it. Water in the morning (especially warm water with lemon), exercise, fresh air, deep breaths, plenty of rest (body and mind); these are what enable you to wake up refreshed and rested!
Step 2: TACKLE THE CARBS BEFORE THE SWEETS.
I’d wanted to cut out how much wheat and gluten based products I was eating, as I agree with many who condone its effects – I don’t think the human digestive system can cope too well with grains! So I cut out bread, pizzas, crackers and the like. And at that time, even though I wasn’t on a mission to eat less sugar, my cravings for chocolate diminished. I thought about it, and it made sense. Bread is a glucose rich food. Glucose is a sugar – and it affects insulin levels within the body. When insulin is going up and down, your body enters a sugar cycle and cravings for sugar materialise. Stopping crazy insulin swings is a fantastic way to level off your sugar cravings and binges. An easy way to do that? Stop the glucose rich foods.
This way you get a steady insulin level, and little to no cravings for sugary stuff. Of course, you may miss your carbs. The easiest way to do this is to cut right down on the cheap white carbs. So no white rice, white bread or white pasta. And replace with wholegrain if you want to eat these types of carbs. Get out of a carb rut. Try to make breakfast and desserts a grain free zone. Omlettes for breakfast, and fruit and nuts for dessert. Think outside the box for this one. You’ll be surprised how easy it is when the insulin becomes less rollercoaster like. You simply won’t be craving as many carbs and won’t be as hungry as you are now. The mouthfeel of bread is like no other, but I find personally, that after three days, the desire for it goes away. See what you are like. And feel reassured that this isn’t a ban on grains, but a new rotation system, with different grains coming to the fore less often through the week. It will help adjust to low sugar living if you give yourself a grain and carb break for a while though. So no crisps or chips, rice cakes, pretzels and the like – but this isn’t forever. Just to readjust.
Step 3: EAT FIBRE, EAT PROTEIN, EAT FAT.
If you are a sugar junkie in disguise (Breakfast cereals, fruit juice and low fat yogurt) then you are most likely always hungry, and constantly desiring something to eat, especially sweet stuff. To remedy this, you need to feel full. How? Eat real food.
Fibre: Absolutely essential. The best sources of fibre come from plant sources. Legumes, roots, leaves, flowers and vegetables.
Protein: A great filler-upper. Protein takes a different metabolic pathway in the body than carbs, and so breaking it down takes longer than carbs. This means you feel fuller for longer. Protein doesn’t necessarily mean you need to eat meat, although humane and organic meat can be your source of protein. Otherwise, legumes, mushrooms, seeds, nuts and dark leafy veg will do you very well. Eggs and cheeses can give you extra dense protein that will fill you up too when you’re in the mood for something more.
Fat: Rejoice in fat! Tasty, lip smackingly good and fills you up too. What more could you desire? Fear not, fat is good for you! Oily fish, nuts, seeds, olives, avocadoes, coconuts – waw, these are so super and body loving, you will feel balanced and full if you incorporate these lush foods into your life.
Step 4: COOK MORE, BUY LESS.
When you know how to cook, you know how to be healthy. And I don’t mean cooking set meals, but putting random ingredients together in flavourful ways that will stead you well on bare fridge days. Cooking more also means that you will no longer rely on processed foods as much. Processed foods are full of hidden nasties that do your body no good at all, and you will feel so much better cooking from scratch. This means that you can learn to satisfy your cravings with foods of your own making. With no hidden ingredients, chemicals or plastic packaging. Taking control of your health means taking control of what goes in your body, and unfortunately the big companies out there care little about what they put in their products, and in your body. Don’t give your long term health and hard earned money to them, in exchange for an addictive substance with flavour that only satisfies for minutes.
Step 5: REALLY ENJOY SWEETS AS ONCE IN A WHILE TREATS.
Find other snacks that aren’t sweet. Fruit is a perfect snack. If you like something sweet after dinner (as do I) then you don’t necessarily need full on sugar. Sometimes dark chocolate is perfect, sometimes a glass of wine. Sometimes a piece of fruit. Other times you enjoy crunchy traditional oat cakes and nut butters, or melt butter and cinnamon with warmed apples or bananas. These flavours are so real, and chemical free, that you get a flavour and sensation hit with just a small bit.
Stop flooding your body with fibreless sugar in the first week, so no liquid sugar. You’ll find that your blood sugar will balance a lot quicker this way, and your cravings will lessen significantly. In the next few days watch how many carbs you eat, especially from grains. So basically any packaged, pre-made, food. During these first two weeks, up your level of fat, protein and fibre from new and delicious sources. Go to wholesalers, or buy reduced price veg. Vegetables is where we get our immune boosting power from, so go to town. They’ll fill up your tummy too, and with lashings of healthy fat and good source protein – you will feel delightfully full up and satisfied. And in week three, it’s time to cut out the hard sugar. This isn’t a forever deal. But totally cutting out what I call hard sugar from sweets, cakes, chocolate, and biscuits will really help recalibrate both body and mind. Don’t think “I’ll never be able to eat these again.” Of course you will! But you’ll come to eat them with a different body and mindset once you allow yourself a break. Remember, they are addictive. So once you eat some, you’ll want more. Don’t be too hard on yourself, be kind instead. Sweets are part of our lives and culture. And I do enjoy them – but I know that the more I eat, the more I want. I don’t often write about what to eat, but as I get asked about sugar a lot, I hope these 5 steps help!