Tuesday, January 6, 2015

New Year Sugar Detox - Are you addicted?

With a new year ahead of us, you are probably asking yourself, What is in store for me this year? What do I need to give up? What do I need to change? It is common for people to give up pop or start exercising, but maybe it is more than just pop. It is sugar..which lurks everywhere and hides in many foods we would not expect. I recently wrote a Sugar Detox book and the message really hit home about why it is so important to eat whole, clean un-processed foods... Here are some small pieces from my book and I hope you consider eating whole foods and trying a sugar detox to feel like a new person. 

Can you live without sugar? I mean the sugar that is added to foods, such as cakes, cookies, yogurts, sweet rolls, candy, and soda? If you have ever tried to diet and cut out everything with sugar, I am sure the diet was unpleasant to say the least, especially for your energy and mood.

When you see the ads for “Just Say No,” they have not hit the message home for a drug-free America. The same goes for giving up sugar. Eliminating added sugars is not an overnight fix. There are so many complex processes that occur when we eat sugar and after we eat sugar. I am sure many of us would love to end our sugar addiction and feel at our best. If you or someone else has said, “I am going to start eating clean tomorrow and cut everything out that is unnatural,” ask yourself, how long did it last? As easy as we think it can be to cut out all the bad stuff overnight, it is not that simple.

The main point I want to make known is that you are not alone...sugar can be hard to cut out right away due to its high palatability. Something is preventing us from eating healthy and pursuing healthy lifestyle behaviors. What is the culprit? The environment and highly processed foods. Added or processed sugar is not necessary for us to survive as it only provides “empty” calories, thus no nutritional value. However, many Americans are easily exceeding the limit of added sugar intake daily. Why? It is sweet, delicious and potentially addictive. Think about the ancestral times...they hunted for food and didn't know when their next meal would be so they would "stock" up. Same with today, we have that same type of zest for food; however, with all the unhealthy food around us, it is no wonder that it is more than tempting.

American is turning into (or already is) a sugarholic country, with sugar intake amounting to 22 tsp of added sugar per day, which is equivalent to an extra 350 calories day and over 8,000 teaspoons of sugar per year. Women are recommended to have no more than 6 tsp daily and men no more than 9 tsp daily. Therefore, we are taking in too much sugar, which is not benefiting our waistline or our health. Over 65 percent of Americans are either overweight or obese which means the majority of people are eating little nutrient-dense foods, such as fruits, vegetables, low-fat dairy, lean meats and healthy fats.

Is Sugar Truly Addictive and if so, How and Why?
Added sugar, not naturally occurring sugar, can become literally addictive. Sugar can make for a vicious cycle of events – the more you eat the more you want it. Sugar can elevate blood sugar levels, release insulin and lead to fat storage in our important vital organs. This type of fat stored is highly metabolically active, meaning that is can affect metabolism, hormones and organ function, such as the liver. It is not just willpower but ultimately you can become dependent on it like drugs. After you eat sugar, a message is sent to your brain and activates the rewards system. Your rewards system includes a series of electrical and chemical path systems that are located across various parts of your brain. The key chemical in your reward system is called dopamine, also known as the happy hormone.  Dopamine receptors can start to work overtime when you become dependent on sugar as they continually seek a “high” effect.  More and more sugar is needed to reach this effect, which makes sugar dependence turn into a true addiction. Interestingly, sugar causes a similar reaction in the brain just like drugs.

Where is surprisingly found? Look at grams of sugar on the back of labels...if you see hidden ingredients such as syrup, HFCS, corn syrup, brown sugar, fruit juice concentrates, etc., and towards the top of the list, chances are it is highly processed. Simply divide grams of sugar divided by 4 to get total tsp. Unfortunately, it will not disclose how much sugar is natural (lactose in milk and yogurt and fructose in fruit) and how much is unnatural so checking the ingredient list for added sugars is important.

Here are some steps to get rid of those cravings...ask me about a Sugar Detox program that is perfect for you!

1. Use the MyPlate System (Go to www.myplate.gov for personalized information)
2. Eat every three hours and no longer than 4-5 to keep your blood sugars balanced.
3. Try to avoid eating carbohydrates alone. Pair it with other food groups such as protein and healthy fats.
4. Consume less sugar and processed foods..
5. Have a bed time snack, such as veggies and hummus, bowl of oatmeal (original with fruits and nuts); plain Greek yogurt with berries
6. Consume prebiotic fiber which will improve your digestive health and support a strong immune system in addition to helping balance your blood sugar levels.

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