You might remember in my last post I shared how I cured my crazy mood swings naturally. Many of you wrote to me and asked how I went about actually removing processed sugars from my daily diet. I know just the thought of not eating sugar can be enough to cause an anxiety attack and really why would you want to give up something that tastes so good. The answer is simple, because it isn’t good for you and health matters!
Remember our simple rule, everything that goes into our mouths needs to nutritionally and physically build up our bodies rather than tear it down. Sugar does not fit this criteria. The bad bacteria in our stomachs and gut, such as candida, feed off of refined sugar. The average American diet is so full of processed sugars that candida overgrowth is becoming an epidemic. This yeast bacteria causes a whole host of negative side effects including fatigue, skin problems, bowel issues, reoccurring yeast infections in women, and nail fungus just to name a few. At the bottom of this post I have included a video for you to watch on candida. It is a long video and may sound like a scare tactic but the science presented is sound and the history of the epidemic is correct.
Ever wondered why you have sugar cravings? This stuff is addicting, just like nicotine and illegal drugs. Your brain is craving the release of pleasure center chemicals, it needs another “sugar” fix. Why would we possibly want to put this poison in our bodies? Cancer cells are also dependent on this quick energy source. Cancer needs sugar to grow and multiply. This one is a no brainer, get the sugar out of your diet!
Here are 11 ways to easily remove processed sugars from your diet; every one of them I put into practice myself and noticed the benefits nearly immediately.
1. Stop drinking soda/pop and sweetened drinks
Soda (or pop if you prefer to call it) and sweetened drinks such as juice and energy drinks are one of the largest contributor of processed sugars in the American diet. A 12oz can of regular cola has 39g of sugar, that is over 3g of sugar in every ounce. Sugar Stacks has a great visual representation of the amount of sugar in grams contained in most of the popular drinks.
By removing soda, juices, and energy drinks from your diet you will take a huge chunk out of your daily sugar consumption. If you have kids though you are likely wondering what you could possibly replace these drinks with and still make sure your child is drinking enough, especially if you have little ones like me and water isn’t their go-to drink. In our home we drastically dilute organic from concentrate apple juice and I mean drastically. For every 8oz my toddlers drink of “juice” there is 1-2oz of juice diluted in filtered water. As my toddlers get older I am working to further reduce this percentage and offer them straight water on a more regular basis. Fresh squeezed fruit juice does not fall in this category, especially if your are blending it in a high powered blender such as a Vita-Mix, you will get all the benefits of fiber from the food as well as all of the other vitamins and minerals.
2. Say good-bye to candy and nightly desserts
Candy and desserts rank right up there with soda as a huge contributor of refined sugars in our diet. You don’t need any of this stuff, honestly and truly. If you’d like to have a treat after a special occasion dinner make smart choices. Choose organic fruit or a dessert that has been made with minimal natural sugars such as sucanat or coconut sugar.
You might be wondering, what about my kids? What about them? They don’t need candy, honestly they don’t. If you see candy and desserts for what they are, poison to your body, why would you possibly want to feed it to your children? No you aren’t depriving them. Is one piece every once in a while (as in every 2-3 months) ok, of course it is. Fortunately for us our bodies can recover from infrequent assaults on our health. It is the daily overconsumption that overwhelms our system and wreaks havoc on our cells. If your children are old enough, explain to them why candy and sweet treats aren’t good for them. Tell them that we only have one body and we need to take care of it. We aren’t taking care of our bodies if we costume sweet treats everyday.
3. Read labels
When you make a habit of reading labels you will be shocked at the amount of foods that contain high volumes of sugars. If the item doesn’t contain milk of juice then you be assured that all of the sugars on the label come from refined sugars. Manufacturers have caught on to the label readers and do their best to hide “sugar” from their ingredient lists. Here are the other names that sugar can be disguised under:
- brown sugar
- corn sweetener
- corn syrup
- fruit juice concentrate
- high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS)
- invert sugar
- malt sugar
- raw sugar
- dextrose, maltose, fructose, sucrose, lactose, glucose (“ose” is the scientific term for sugar molecules)
As you become an educated and label reading consumer it will be easier to decipher the ingredient lists. You might also begin to notice there are other additives in your foods that you want to stay away from. I will address the preservative and additives that my family and I steer clear of in another post.
4. Eat real foods
Speaking of label reading, the easiest way to avoid issues with added ingredients is to just stay away from processed foods altogether. I know this isn’t always possible, we don’t have all day in the kitchen to devote to cooking our own foods. You will certainly find bags and boxes of foods in my pantry. However, I make sure that what I do purchase pre-made is clean of ingredients I choose not to eat.
There is a great sense of pride that comes with eating what you cook at home. It is comforting to know what you put in your meals and best of all you are serving your family a little dose of love on a plate. You love your family and yourself enough to take the time to plan meals and cook healthy, wholesome, clean meals free of processed ingredients. Once you stock your pantry with key ingredients making homemade real food meals is so incredibly easy.
5. Write down your goal or motivation, post in a visible spot
If you are a visual reminder type of person, this is a great way to stay focused on your goal. A clear and daily reminder of why you are removing sugar from your diet will keep you on track and focused during those weak moments. The first few days of sugar detox are the hardest. Your cravings will be intense, just like withdrawals from a drug, but you can get through it and will be SO much healthier once the cravings pass.
6. Make smart choices when eating out
I cook 99% of our meals because our diet limits us to where we can eat out at. Fortunately, being simply sugar free isn’t going to limit your choices of restaurants to any great degree. Make wise food choices if you do choose to eat out, skip dessert, and simply drink water.
7. Find a partner to go “sugar free” with
Having an accountability partner is an amazing way to stay motivated when making any new change in your lifestyle. A spouse, good friend, co-worker, or even an older child of yours are all great choices when choosing to go sugar free. You can serve as encouraging factors in each other’s lives when you experience moments of weakness. A simple encouraging word and reminder from your accountability partner can go a long way in keeping you on the right track to a healthier lifestyle. Health matters!
8. Drink plenty of water
Water serves so many amazing purposes in our bodies. Our body is mainly water so we need it to stay healthy and functioning properly. It is recommended that you drink 66% of your weight in ounces of water everyday. For example, if someone weighs 200lbs they should drink a minimum of 132 ounces of clean filtered water everyday for optimum health. Not only will an adequate water intake keep you feeling full between meals thereby reduce your overall calorie intake during the day but it will also flush your body of toxins and harmful chemicals. Your skin will look amazing too once you are properly hydrated.
9. List all of the sources of sugars currently in your diet
A stark reminder of how much hidden sugar you consume everyday is to take an inventory of your pantry, refrigerator, and any extra items you purchase throughout the day. That Starbucks or Big-gulp is FULL of sugar, they taste so good and your crave them because they are nearly nothing but sugar. Look at the food labels in your home and note the ingredients as well as the carbohydrates. If there is no milk or fruit juices in your ingredient list then all of the calories from sugar are 100% from refined sugar sources.
10. Set a minimum amount of time you will be sugar free
Changes in our lives are made easier when set finite goals for ourselves. When my husband announced we were going vegan we set a 21 day goal for ourselves. At the end of 21 days we would re-evaluate if we wanted to continue or not. The same is true for going sugar free. Set at least a 3 week goal for yourself, anything less and the changes might not be as obvious. Stay committed with your accountability partner for at least 21 days. At the end, ask yourself if you need to add sugar back in your diet. If you are honest with yourself, your answer will most likely be “no I don’t need it” and your craving or “want” for sugar will be gone as well after at least 21 days. As I mentioned in the previous post, linked at the beginning of this article, I know first hand the consequences of adding sugar back in during a moment of weakness. The results were not pretty and I had to detox all over again, not something I want to do ever again!
11. Don’t focus on it, just do it and have fun
Don’t let being sugar free consume your every thought throughout the day. There are so many other alternatives out there that taste amazing and are sugar free. Discover a new fruit, a new recipe, try a new fresh squeezed fruit juice from your local health food store, the options are limitless. Just don’t focus on it and let it consume you.
Here is a a video which discusses sugar and the candida epidemic:
If you decide to take a step in the right direction and go remove processed sugars from your diet please let me know. I’d love to hear from you, answer any questions you might have, and help support you along the way.