Sugar is everywhere! It’s such a huge part of modern life that we don’t even notice it.
I’m in South America right now, where consumption of Coca Cola and other sugary drinks is off the charts. They’re almost cleaning their teeth with the stuff! It’s not just the USA that’s locked in a love-affair with sugar.
Unfortunately most of us don’t draw the connection between how much sugar we consume and our health issues. It’s time to take a cold, hard look at how much we consume and start scaling it back radically! Here’s how:
This post continues on from #9 – Sugar: Harmless Happiness or Evil Gut-Wrecker?
First of all, to get motivated for drastic action, let’s look at the benefits we can enjoy if we cut back on sugar.
Why reduce our sugar intake?
‘Sugar makes stuff taste good and gives me energy when I need it. I don’t wanna cut it back!’
Why bother cutting back? Because with less sugar:
- our gut works better
- our body’s defences are stronger
- our hormones are more balanced
- our waistline is slimmer
- our skin is clearer
- our mind is sharper and more stable
- our mood is better
Isn’t that a pretty awesome list of benefits, just for starters? Here are a few things you need to know before getting started:
Know Your Sugars
Of course there are different kinds of sugar, not just one. That would be too easy, right?
You need to understand an important distinction between natural sugars and added sugars. Natural sugars are found in, for example, milk, grains, fruit and honey. Added sugars are found in processed food like breakfast cereal, sodas and condiments. A particularly nasty kind is the dreaded high-fructose corn syrup, which has been linked to obesity.
It’s a bit like knowing your fats: there are natural, healthy fats like cold-pressed coconut oil, and there are toxic, processed ones like trans-fats (which you’ll see on ingredients labels as ‘hydrogenated’ or ‘partially-hydrogenated’ fats)
Wise up to sugars in Processed Food
The kinds of foods that have sugar added are heavily processed, low in nutrients and high in toxic contaminants. They’re terrible for our gut health.
For example did you know that it’s almost impossible to find a shop-bought mayonnaise that doesn’t contain sugar? Ketchup, canned soups, sauces and ready meals are all laden with the stuff. Low-fat foods are especially bad!
Know Your Alternatives
Honey is the official Gut Geek go-to alternative to refined sugar. It contains vitamins, minerals, amino acids and is a natural antiseptic with many therapeutic properties.
Try to buy honey in it’s least processed form, preferably cold-expressed and raw.
Studies show that if you consume artificial sweeteners like Saccharine and Aspartame, you’re at an increased risk of weight gain, diabetes and heart attacks. And they also mess with your gut flora. So avoid! Yes, that means Diet Coke is out!
Is Sugar Addictive, really?
Yes, sugar is highly addictive. Some people will argue with you that it’s not, but they’re probably addicted!
It’s a stimulant and we often use it as a crutch when we’re low on energy. That’s why the food industry piles it into everything! It keeps you coming back for more.
Like any addictive substance, it giveth but then it taketh away. You feel energised for a while, then you feel tired and scratchy, looking around for your next sugary hit. In the long run you risk getting gut issues, your immune system will be weakened so you pick up every flu bug going around, and your body’s flabby.
We’re not built for super-high levels of sugar, and it stresses out our body when we consume so much day after day.
6 Steps to Shake off Sugar
- Cut out all candies/sweets: from jelly babies to M&M’s, milk shakes to McFlurrys. Only chocolate of 75% cocoa and above is allowed.
- Avoid all sodas: colas, sprite, Dr Pepper, energy drinks like Red Bull. The diet, sugar-free versions of these sodas are also banned due to the artificial sweeteners they contain.
- Avoid processed food: almost all has sugar added, even savoury stuff. A big culprit is breakfast cereal, which is marketed as healthy because it’s got synthetic vitamins added back in – what a load of bullshit! We’re not going to fall for that any more, are we?!
- Avoid sauces and condiments unless you made them yourself. If you’re used to smearing your fries with ketchup, this one’s going to be tough. Have you noticed processed food like french fries and hotdogs really cries out for sauces? Solution: skip the processed food!
- Use honey instead of sugar: you can do this everywhere that you currently use sugar, including tea, coffee, baking etc. Don’t go crazy with the amount! Anti-sugar purists will say this is cheating but this will help massively with cravings and honey is medicinal, honest!
- Keep Eating Fruit: but not too much! It’s a great source of vitamins, enzymes and fibre. If you need a sugar fix, fruit is a way better option than a donut or bowl of Cheerios. What about fruit juice? Annoyingly, shop-bought fruit juice isn’t a great option, unless it’s cold-pressed. Most juices have been pasteurised, which kills many of the nutrients. They also tend to have sugar added and are prone to have mould growing in them.
How long should I do this for?
Start by following this system for just one day. If you don’t manage it, try again. You may get crazy cravings and energy swings to begin with, but once your body adjusts you’ll feel cleaner and more energised.
Once you’ve done a day, increase to a week, then a fortnight, then a month, then 6 months, and you’re away.
How strict do should I be?
If you have gut problems right now, or if you have knock-on problems with your immune system, weight control or mental health, then you need to be pretty strict.
If you have a yeast infection like Candida, you need to be super-strict and also cut out fruit and honey.
Will I ever eat desserts again?
Yes! This system is not as extreme as it might sound. You can still eat desserts. They just have to be made with the right natural, healthy ingredients.
That may mean you have to make your desserts at home. However it doesn’t take long, it’s kind of fun and your dessert will taste awesome! Check out some of our favorites in: Desserts That Won’t Destroy you
Is it worth the effort?
Do you want to be forever shuffling around like a drug-addicted zombie, groping for the next sugary snack, riddled with disease?
For all you nutrition nerds out there, our steps above are based on the GAPS diet by Dr Natasha Campbell McBride.
How is it for You?
Have you tried cutting down, are you getting mad cravings, are you finding it easy-peasy? Let us know in the comments underneath. We do our best to respond to all comments and messages.