How to Stop Sugar Cravings (for good!) - Paula Owens, MS

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How to Stop Sugar Cravings

Paula Owens, MS - Holistic Nutritionist and Functional Health PractitionerDo you struggle with sugar cravings?

Do you crave something sweet after meals? Does your diet consist of bagels, fruit juice, ultra-processed cereal, bread, fruity yogurt, candy, muffins, soda, flavored coffee drinks, and the like? If so, this article will shed some light and enlighten you with information as to why you’re experiencing intense cravings, and provide you with solutions and strategies to stop sugar cravings for good!

Too much sugar (not fat) is making us fat, sick, and diseased. Excessive sugar isn’t just nutritionally-void empty calories, sugar ages your brain, suppresses infection-fighting immune cells called lymphocytes, and causes nutrient deficiencies. Sugar is the preferred fuel source for yeast, parasites and Candida to thrive and survive, and it’s addictive stimulating the same pleasure centers of the brain that respond to heroin and cocaine. The more you eat it, the more you want it! And, it’s not just plain white sugar that’s the problem. According to a study in the Journal of Clinical Nutrition, eating wheat and processed carbohydrates have a similar effect on brain chemistry as addictive substances.

Sugar is addictive! It’s eight times more addictive than cocaine!

In 1821, the average person consumed approximately ten pounds of sugar annually. Today, that number is an astounding 180 pounds to more than 200 pounds of sugar per person annually! That’s 350 calories daily from added sugar (equivalent to roughly 22 teaspoons of sugar daily and 25 percent of daily calories). On top of that, approximately 55% of the sugar produced in the U.S. comes from sugar beets — 95% of which have been genetically engineered and genetically modified.

Sugar is found in everything!

  • Cereal, granola
  • Sports drinks, juice drinks
  • Tomato sauce, ketchup
  • Milk, yogurt, flavored coffee creamers
  • Peanut butter
  • Granola bars, protein bars, snack bars
  • Gluten-free goodies
  • Chewing gum
  • Infant formula
  • Off-the-shelf vitamins
  • Low-fat and fat-free items
  • Bread, bagels muffins
  • Salad dressings

Of the nearly 600,000 food items on grocery store shelves, 80% of them contain added sugar! Sugar is often disguised in processed and packaged foods as evaporated cane juice, corn syrup, barley malt, maltodextrin, fructose, sucrose, sucralose, agave, brown rice syrup and other items that end with –ose. Other forms of sugar include sugar alcohols such as sorbitol, manitol or xytlitol that often cause digestive distress for many individuals.

When you consume sugary foods that quickly convert to sugar, a hormonal message is sent to your body that says, “I’m going to store more fat.”

Sugar damages your body and brain. Excess sugar and starchy carbs that aren’t used by the body accumulate in the liver, leading to excess weight gain, an altered microbiome, accelerated brain aging, suppressed immunity, stubborn belly fat, and non-alcoholic fatty liver. Sugar intake is directly linked to heart disease, depression, anxiety, hormone dysfunction, kidney stones, gallstones, diabetes, inflammation, leaky gut, fatty liver, memory loss and cognitive decline, a compromised microbiome, increased appetite, cravings, metabolic dysfunction, damaged skin collagen, and it’s a fuel source for Candida overgrowth, yeast, pathogenic bacteria and parasites.

According to Dr. Robert Lustig, a pediatric endocrinologist, sugar is making us obese and sick. A study by the University of Copenhagen found that sugar actually aids the growth of malignant cancer cells. Sugar loving microbes in the gut along with the carbs that feed them can fuel colon cancer.

Excessive sugar consumption amplifies pain and inflammation, and triggers mood disorders, behavioral problems, anxiety and depression.

Sugar is linked to depression, anxiety, behavioral and mood disorders. A study published in British Journal of Psychiatry found that those who ate processed foods and sugar had a 58% increased risk for depression. Research has shown that high-sugar, high-carb and low nutrient-value foods are commonly consumed by those with depression, anxiety and emotional distress, thus exacerbating the condition.

A study in the Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry has shown that unhealthy maternal and early postnatal dietary patterns (sugar, processed and highly refined foods, sugary beverages, high-sodium snacks) increases the risk of ADHD, behavioral and emotional problems in their children.

Excessive sugar consumption leads to addiction-like cravings, impaired memory and learning, and increases the risk of anxiety, depression and mental health problems in children and adolescents.

Sugar has also been shown to cause a more porous intestinal lining resulting in leaky gut that increases systemic access to food antigens, environmental toxins, endotoxins, yeast, and structural components of microbes.

Sugar is a poison to healthy brain function. Starchy carb-heavy, high sugar diets are a root cause of low energy, depression, ADD/ADHD, brain atrophy, memory problems, wrinkles and premature aging, acne, increased blood sugar, and several nutrient deficiencies. Eating sugar blocks absorption of essential minerals like chromium, zinc and magnesium. When you’re deficient in these important minerals, the tendency for sugar cravings intensify even more. Sugar consumption also depletes important mood-enhancing B vitamins.

Those with Candida overgrowth who eat a lot of sugar can actually become ‘drunk’ because Candida can ferment sugar and carbohydrates. Candida overgrowth saturates the body with a toxic by-product call acetaldehyde. Excess acetaldehyde is similar to alcohol poisoning.

Sugar Cravings and Sugar Addiction - Paula Owens, MS Holistic Nutritionist and Functional Health Practitioner

When you consume an excess amount of sugar, glucose levels rise. Shortly after, glucose levels plummet and crash causing low blood sugar, which triggers intense and increased cravings for more sugar so glucose levels rise back up. This vicious cycle continues. Sugar stimulates pleasure and reward centers in the brain. Alcohol use and drugs activate these very same reward centers. When these reward centers are over-stimulated too much and too often, it will cause a downward spiral out-of-control effect that results in intensified cravings, loss of control, increased tolerance, and addictive affects on the brain.

Cravings provide insight into your unique metabolism. Cravings are messengers, and a sign of imbalances often in conjunction to specific nutrient deficiencies, emotions, hormonal imbalances, adrenal insufficiency and neurotransmitter imbalances.

It’s important to determine the root cause of your cravings and understand why you experience intense cravings for starchy carbs and sugar so you can break the addictive cycle.

Sugar cravings are triggered by

  • You’re not properly nourished with a balance of nutrient-dense foods
  • Hosting unhealthy and unfriendly pathogens in your gut like Candida overgrowth, yeast, fungus, bacterial and parasite infections
  • Protein deficiency and insufficient intake of healthy fats
  • Hormone fluctuations and hormonal imbalances
  • Neurotransmitter imbalances
  • Sleep deprivation
  • Dehydration
  • Insulin resistance, blood sugar imbalances
  • Emotional hunger
  • Artificial sweeteners
  • Skipping breakfast
  • Stress and adrenal dysfunction
  • Nutrient deficiencies (omega-3s, magnesium, zinc and B vitamins)
  • Digestive problems, bacterial imbalances and hypochlorhydria
  • Recovering alcoholic. Former alcoholics often replace alcohol with sweets and sugary beverages without realizing that sugar disrupts nutrient balance and intestinal flora, promoting Candida overgrowth and other fungi. Under certain conditions these pathogenic yeasts actually convert sugars in the gut to alcohol. Walk into any AA meeting and you’ll find a spread of candy, cakes and cookies. Some recovering alcoholics will even convert the sugar to alcohol metabolically and maintain their alcohol addiction in this way. There are well-documented cases of inebriation caused by sugar consumption and Candida overgrowth in persons who abstain from alcohol.

How to Stop Sugar Cravings

Realize that it’s not uncommon to experience withdrawal symptoms such as headaches, fatigue and mood swings when you give up sugar and change your diet. These symptoms will subside in a few days.

Use Food as Medicine to Stop Sugar Cravings

  • Eat nutrient-dense organic foods. Go back to the basics – when you nourish your body with real food, cravings subside.
  • Consume organic protein and healthy fats at every meal. Protein and fat send signals that travel between your gut and brain generating feelings of satiety. Healthy fats from pastured egg yolks, grass-fed and pasture-raised meat, coconut oil, avocado, wild salmon, pasture-raised butter, nuts and seeds
  • Regulate blood sugar. Eat breakfast, lunch and dinner. Long periods without nourishing your body will trigger and intensify cravings for sugar and carbs.
  • Ditch the artificial sweeteners
  • Spice it up with cinnamon, coriander, nutmeg, cloves and cardamom that help reduce cravings and stabilize blood sugar.
  • Have a food funeral! Remove all processed, sugary treats, artificial sweeteners, sodas and sugary beverages, any items with wheat and gluten, and processed junk foods from your home and office to avoid the ease of accessibility and the temptation for these foods. Artificial sweeteners and processed, fake foods can actually cause addiction and intensify cravings.
  • Include more fiber-rich foods in your diet from a variety of fresh dark green vegetables and dark leafy greens with healthy fats such as olive oil, butter or coconut oil, which help prevent cravings, increase satiety and control blood sugar.
  • Be a label detective. Make it a habit to read the list of ingredients on every item to avoid hidden sugars and artificial sweeteners.
  • Drink plenty of clean filtered water away from meal time. Dehydration can trigger cravings.

Lifestyle Tips to Stop Sugar Cravings

  • Investigate food sensitivities, which among other things can be a root cause of intense cravings.
  • Don’t under estimate the importance of sleep. The amount and quality of sleep you get every night has a direct influence on cravings. Strive for seven to nine hours of restful sleep every night. When you’re sleep deprived or don’t sleep soundly, appetite increases especially for sugar, carbohydrates and junk food.
  • Be mindful of emotional hunger, events and situations that trigger cravings
  • Exercise daily. Walk every day preferably outdoors.
  • Balance hormones, specifically insulin (what you choose to eat) and cortisol (healthy functioning adrenals).
  • Avoid medications, stimulants and excess alcohol consumption that not only deplete vital nutrients from your body, but also stimulate appetite, intensify cravings, compromise liver health, and encourage excessive weight
  • Honor and listen to your body’s request for rest and downtime. It’s more challenging for an exhausted body to make healthy choices. Schedule quiet moments for restoration, relaxation and prayer.
  • Re-direct your mind. When you experience an intense craving, shift your mind and focus your energy on healthier, more pleasurable activities. Call a friend. Meditate. Go for a walk. Pray. Light some candles and take a warm bath. Take a yoga class. Brew up a cup of homemade cocoa. Write in your journal about gratifying moments in your life or things, memories, people and places that you love and appreciate. Read a favorite novel or something spiritually uplifting.
  • Commit to a 21-day sugar fast. Although this can be quite challenging, the outcome and benefits are tremendous. Detox Tips Safe Enough to do Every Day
  • Investigate and rule out gut pathogens including Candida overgrowth, fungal, bacterial infections and parasites, which thrive on sugar and starchy carbs.

Nutrients to stop sugar cravings & support sugar withdrawal

Nutrient selection and dosing is bio-individualized based on their unique biochemistry, age, lifestyle, nutrient needs and deficiencies. Schedule a consultation to determine your specific nutrient deficiencies and needs.

  • Omega-3 fatty acids
  • Minerals, specifically zinc, magnesium and chromium
  • B vitamins, specifically thiamine, folate, vitamins B6 and B12
  • L-glutamine powder
  • Probiotics
  • High-quality multi-vitamin and mineral
  • Optimize vitamin D levels. Leptin, which tells your body that you’re full does not work without optimal vitamin D levels. Vitamin D from the sun nourishes the pineal gland in your brain and stimulates the production of serotonin. When serotonin level are low, tendencies to feel depressed, tired and hungry intensify. You may just need more sunlight or supplementation an emulsified form of vitamin D.

Kick sugar cravings to the curb with these crave-busters

  • Blend the following: 2 tablespoons coconut cream, one half teaspoon Celtic sea salt, one scoop grass-fed collagen powder, 1/2 cup of your favorite fruit, 4 ounces filtered water
  • Two tablespoons apple cider vinegar in a glass of water with a sprinkle of cinnamon and ginger
  • Two teaspoons of L-glutamine in a small amount of water or organic heavy cream has blood sugar-stabilizing effects
  • Protein smoothie: 25-30 grams of your favorite protein powder or 2 scoops collagen powder, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon raw cacao and 1/2 avocado blended together with water and ice.

Healthy sweet treats to satisfy your sweet tooth

  • Avocado chocolate pudding recipe
  • Homemade cocoa. Blend one tablespoon of organic raw cacao powder with a 8-12 ounces of hot water. Add one tablespoon organic heavy cream, and one tablespoon pastured butter. Sweeten with a small amount of vanilla-flavored stevia.
  • One half cup organic nuts with real maple syrup sprinkled with cinnamon
  • Sliced banana, 1/4 organic coconut flakes, 1/4 cup macadamia nuts, sprinkle of cinnamon
  • One cup of organic frozen berries and organic heavy cream sprinkled with raw cacao nibs
  • Cocoa Berry Smoothie
  • Banana slices, dipped in coconut oil, rolled in coconut flakes and cocoa nibs. Refrigerate.
  • Energizing Green Smoothie
  • Bacon-wrapped dates (yum!)

Determine the root cause of your cravings and do what works for YOU. We are each unique individuals biochemically, physically and emotionally. As always, go slow, be patient and loving with yourself. Follow the guidance and healing direction of a trusted professional to allow your body to heal and restore naturally.

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