BY TRACY McCUBBIN, MD, ABOIM, ABEM
The holidays are over, and it is time to get off the SMACK! It happens to the best of us. Sugar just naturally creeps into our diet and takes over during the holiday season. It is time to get healthy again!
Consuming too much sugar is probably the most common unhealthy eating habit. So many have an emotional and physical attachment to sugar and the thought of giving it up is terrifying. What are we really looking for? Is it something sweet, or are we replacing sugar with something we are longing for…love, friendship, comfort, belonging, joy, happiness? The problem is that sugar consumption can get out of control and then we can start experiencing serious health issues. Most of us are not even aware of how much sugar we consume because it comes in so many disguises!
Blood Sugar Imbalance Explained…
Glucose is blood sugar. It is an essential energy source for all bodily functions.
The presence of glucose in the bloodstream triggers the production of insulin, a hormone that helps glucose get into cells where it can be used for energy. Once our immediate energy needs have been met, the extra glucose can be stored in our muscles and liver for later use. If our muscle and liver stores of glucose are full and we still have extra glucose floating around in our blood, then insulin helps store this excess sugar as fat. So maintaining an even blood sugar level is KEY for fat loss success.
When we eat a meal high in carbohydrates and sugar, our bodies release a large amount of insulin in response. Our blood sugar will spike and then fall quickly causing hypoglycemia. You may notice irritability, headaches, dizziness and hunger. Then you will crave more sugar to try and stabilize blood sugar. You are on a glycemic rollercoaster!
Why is Sugar Bad for Us?
Sugar is an anti-nutrient. It offers no nutritional value and when there are no nutrients to absorb, hunger is not satisfied. Furthermore, sugar upsets the body’s mineral balance by interfering with the absorption of calcium and magnesium. It can cause copper and chromium deficiencies as well.
By raising insulin levels, over time, sugar can lead to Metabolic Syndrome and Type 2 Diabetes. In addition, sugar promotes inflammation and has been linked to autoimmune disease, cancer, premature aging and heart disease. And it can suppress your immune system when consumed in large amounts.
Sugar contributes to obesity which is becoming an epidemic in our country. Sugar is a drug which reacts with the reward system in our brain much the same way that crack cocaine does. And if you ride the glycemic rollercoaster all day, moods swings, anxiety and depression can result.
Tips and Tricks to Combat Sugar Cravings
Drink up: Your drink of choice should be pure, clean water and lots of it! Drink out of stainless steel or glass and avoid plastic water bottles. Add in a bit of cucumber, basil, mint or splash of lime to make your water more interesting. Many of us in Colorado are dehydrated due to our arid climate so drink, drink and drink more water!
Decrease the buzz: Caffeine causes many folks to want a sweet treat alongside their cup of Joe. Please cut back on caffeine if this applies to you!
Spice it up: Try adding spices like cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg or cloves to your meals for just a hint of sweetness.
Go herbal: Drinking herbal teas such as licorice, peppermint and ginger can curb cravings. There are lots of great blends out there to experiment with.
Get distracted: When a sugar craving hits, get up and move – lift a few weights or walk around the block. Stretch. Or call a friend or listen to music. Find something that takes your attention away from sugar.
Breathe: Take a moment to relax and take 5 deep breaths. Maybe try the 478 breath technique. Visualize health and vitality pouring through you. Sound crazy? It works!
Get poked: Studies show that acupuncture can be very effective to help curb cravings.
Will I Feel Better?
Once you kick your sugar habit you may notice:
• Increased energy & vitality
• Clearer skin
• Regular bowel movements
• Improved digestion
• Increased mental clarity
• Stronger immune system
• Weight loss
• Improved sleep
• Fewer cravings
If you want to get sugar out of your diet, join our Sugar Busters Detox Program. Check out our free webinar on Saturday, January 15th to find out more.
We at Radiance Functional Medicine wish you a Healthy, Balanced and Happy New Year!