Donuts and a latte to start the day, pasta and a power drink at noon, and that constant craving for chocolate! Why have dinner when you can have a banana split- dairy and fruit are good for you, right? Every day your thoughts and mood revolve around your next sugar fix; you can’t really focus without it. Pretty soon instead of the recommended maximum of 10% of your calories, sugars make up 60 even 80% of your daily caloric intake. Additionally, the scale is out of control and you’ve either got a gut or a jello-looking backside, or both.
Face it – whether your 23, 43 or even 73, many of us have been or currently are addicted to sugar. It’s so easy. Sugar is available, cheap and tasty…but unless it’s fruits, lactose (the sugar in cow’s milk), molasses or some other sugar with added benefits it’s empty calories that steal space from essential nutrients and fiber. No question, excessive sugar intake is common and a key aspect of weight gain, malnourishment and the emotional yo-yoing that goes with spikes and dips in our blood sugar.
Over my years as an athlete I too have succumbed to excess sugar. Fortunately, by helping so many people break free of their addiction I’m confident – if you don’t have insulin dependent diabetes mellitus or serious addiction problems – that this cold-turkey approach will help you break through the sugar addiction syndrome.
What to do. Commit to 7-14 days of sugar-free abstinence (Minimum 3 if you truly have willpower and can return to only healthy fruits and whole grains).
- No sugar, no corn syrup, no artificial sweeteners, no fruit. No pasta, bread, rice, or tortillas that so quickly convert to sugar in your body. Lactose, quinoa, whole oats, corn and potatoes are OK.
- No alcohol: no hard spirits, beer, and absolutely no wine.
- No more than two 8-oz cups of coffee or the equivalent of a stimulant that can affect your blood sugar metabolism.
Think 3:5:7. A tweaked low- sugar version of the 10 healthy habits of Wellness Compass Travel Guide.
- Eat 3 wholesome meals a day with 20-40 grams of protein at each meal. For example (grams)
- Start your day with a protein-fortified shake or vegetable omelet (20-30g)
- Enjoy a large salad with 4 ounces of fish, lean meats, cheese and/or egg (25-35g)
- Try meals with 50% cooked vegetables and 50% protein like a cup of chili, curry, stew or stir fry or have 4-5 ounces of meat and vegetables separately – just nix the carbs and sweet sauce (25-35g)
- Snack on seeds, nuts, soybeans, or vegetable sticks and up to a ½ cup of avocado.
- Aim for 5 servings of vegetables: all different colors if you can.
- Drink 7 cups of pure water (ice and tea are OK, but no sweeteners)
Hints. Don’t change the rules! This plan works best if you don’t jump into it immediately but plan it a few days in advance so you can get rid of the junk, buy the foods you need, and share your commitment with others to help you avoid temptations.
- Do you need to cut back on sugar (or some other food addiction)?
- How will you do it?
- If you are thinking about going sugar-free for awhile, what will you need to do, buy, get rid of before you start?
Feel free to post comments about your successes or challenges.