Let’s face it: sugar tastes GOOD. From the day we are born, we are hardwired to prefer sweet foods. But for many of us, this gets way out of hand. We no longer crave only the good sweet foods like fruits, but we crave desserts, candy, sodas and more–all day long. I’ll admit, I was just as bad as anyone. In fact, this time last year I had a pretty bad sugar addiction. I could drink several large sodas a day without blinking. I’d eat a bag of candy a day–again, without even noticing I’d done so. And it seemed like the more sugar I ate, the more I wanted to eat. It was a vicious cycle. But as I began going further and further into my journey towards natural health, I began to notice patterns. If I ate a lot of sugar in a day, a couple of things happened. First, I’d develop some pretty bad gas. (oh yes, nothing like full disclosure from a blogger, eh?) My stomach would rumble for hours after eating, and I’d end up in the bathroom feeling sick. Second, a little while after eating the sugar, I’d feel sleepy. No sugar rush here–I actually became tired! Third, on especially bad days I’d find sores developing in my mouth. This had happened for years since I was a kid, but I’d never drawn a line between the sores and sugar before. Fourth, within a short bit of eating, I’d be hungry again. Very hungry! And guess what I craved? More sweet foods!
I know I’m not alone. According to government reports Americans eat on average twenty teaspoons of ADDED sugars per day! I talk to so many people day in and day out who are trying to kick the sugar habit. They may not have it as bad as I did, but they find it very hard to cut back. Sugar is one of those things that is ever-present in our foods today, way more than it was just forty or fifty years ago. Switching to artificial sweeteners isn’t the answer either, because studies have shown those to have serious affects on our health as well. Recent studies have shown that people who use artificial sweeteners–and even natural ones like Stevia–often weigh more than those who don’t. Why? The jury is still out on that, but most say it is likely because our body continues to seek the sweet tastes. I could go on all day about the reasons why we crave sugar, why it is so bad for us and how out of whack our systems have gotten. But if you’re here reading this blog, you likely already know all of those things. Instead, I’ll get down to the good parts–how to beat it.
So what can you do to kick the sugar habit? I found that with a couple of fairly simple steps, I was able to tame the sugar monster. I simply don’t crave sweets any more. This is pretty amazing, considering my serious-duty sweet tooth just a year ago! Here’s some of the steps that I’ve found really help in kicking the sugar habit.
1. Eat a teaspoon of raw honey every day. Say What??? I am supposed to eat sugar to beat sugar? Actually, it is true. It has worked for a number of people that I know. You see, raw honey is a completely different type of sugar. It is low on the glycemic index, meaning it doesn’t trigger huge releases in insulin like most sugar does. Raw honey also has natural antibacterial properties in your body, fighting bad bacteria in your digestive track that thrive on sugar. Plus, it just satisfies that mental craving. I started with a teaspoon in the morning and another at night. But make sure it is raw honey! Regular honey from the grocery store (the kind in the plastic bears) is often loaded with extra sugars and has none of the beneficial properties of raw honey. Raw honey is good for so many things, might as well stock up!
2. Add Apple Cider Vinegar to your daily diet. One reason why so many of us are “addicted” or hooked on sugary foods is because the balance of bacteria in our stomach has gotten so out of whack. When we go through long periods on antibiotics for one infection or the other, the antibiotics kill more than just the germs–they also can destroy large amounts of the good bacteria that live in our bodies. This creates a good environment for the bad bacterias to grow, especially in our gut. Many of these bad bacterias thrive on sugars, so the more you eat of the sugar, the more they multiply, and the more you crave. Apple Cider Vinegar is a great combatant to the bad bacteria flourishing in your gut. First, it changes the ph of the environment, making it less friendly for the bad guys and killing some of them off. Second, Apple Cider Vinegar is full of good things for your gut, making it a good place for the good bacteria to thrive. (Did you know that 80% of your immune system is in your gut?) Apple Cider Vinegar taken daily is a powerful detox agent. It will not only help balance the balance in your gut, but for many people it helps their energy levels as well. Mix a teaspoon in a glass of water and drink. You can add honey to the water to sweeten it if you’d like. Do this daily, and it won’t be long until you see a difference!
3. Get your sugar fix from fruits. While cutting back on sugars is good, you are going to experience some cravings. That’s natural and totally normal! So when those sugar cravings hit, instead of reaching for the candy, grab a piece of fruit. Grapes are one of my favorites, because they are both very sweet and just a little tart. Plums are another favorite–they have a lot of flavor but only 40 calories per plum. Make sure that you are eating fruits, and not drinking them. Fruit juice is NOT the same as eating fruit!
After I started eating honey twice a day in small amounts, I was astounded to find that I no longer craved sugar. I was able to eat half a candy bar and be satisfied, instead of two to three candy bars at once. If you’d told me a year ago that Halloween would come and I wouldn’t be dying to dive into the big giant bowl of candy, I would never have believed you. But it is true! I went to the store yesterday for our bags of candy to hand out at Halloween. I wandered the aisles like I normally do, looking for something I thought I’d like. Surprisingly, nothing looked good. I ended up buying glow lights and two bags of candy to hand out–and have had no desire to go near the candy.
I have been amazed how much of a difference I feel in my body since kicking the sugar habit. I have more energy on a daily basis. I don’t have the bad gas anymore–something that I was convinced was genetic. The mouth sores went away and haven’t been back. I can’t even finish a small glass of Sprite any more. It’s too sweet! I can enjoy cakes and desserts in small pieces, without feeling cheated or like I’m “dieting.” In reality I really don’t want the big piece of dessert. It just doesn’t taste good after a few bites.
I really hope this helps someone else to kick the sugar habit like I did! Let me know if you struggle with sugar, and how you’ve battled it.