A Dietitian's Food Rules to Kick A Sugar Addiction

When it comes to “treats,” I love candy. I’ve loved eating candy & sweets for as long as I can remember. However, it was time this love affair with sugar came to an end! In my opinion, the majority of the food I eat on a regular basis is really nutritious and low in sugar; however, my Achilles heel is the time between dinner and bedtime. Call it a habit, call it an addiction—regardless, I needed to eat less sugar. I wanted to eat less sugar. I knew I would feel better in many different ways — my mood, my achy morning joints, my bloated stomach, my energy levels, and those are just the things I noticed. Sugar damages the insides in so many ways we don't even notice or feel. Here are 5 primary ways blood sugar imbalance negatively affects heart health.  

These strategies have helped me decrease my sugar intake and get through those fierce cravings that usually happen in the evening.

#1: Never Skip Breakfast

If I skip breakfast for whatever reason, I have an insatiable appetite later in the day and into the evening. I don’t feel satisfied, and it usually leads to sugar cravings. Therefore, to curb cravings later in the day and evening, I must eat a well-balanced, substantial breakfast. This breakfast must be high in protein, such as eggs, a protein smoothie, or plain Greek yogurt, and also contain fiber, such as veggies in an omelet, spinach in the smoothie, or berries in the yogurt.

Here are five reasons to eat within an hour of waking up

#2: Read The Ingredients

Scan the ingredients! For me, it’s a rude-awakening when I read the ingredients or the grams of sugar in a food. I’ve learned it’s a pretty effective way for me to avoid eating sugar or at least eat far less.

For example, I bought a little pack of Jelly Belly’s the other day. I had eaten about 10 of them before I reviewed the ingredients. Once I saw they contained every type of artificial coloring possible, I put them down and threw them away! Knowledge is power! When I review a nutrition label, I look in two areas—the number of sugar grams, and the ingredients details because I like to see where the sugar is coming from (ie: corn syrup, agave, high fructose corn syrup, etc.). Anything that contains artificial color (ie: Blue #2) contains the heavy metal Aluminum. Avoid ingesting heavy metals at all cost!

#3: Hot Tea (Caffeinated or Decaf)

If I’m experiencing mid-afternoon or evening cravings, hot tea is my go-to crutch. I sip it more slowly because it’s hot, and by the time I’m finished drinking it, the cravings are usually less. This time of year I love matcha green tea and I love making my own citrus ginger tea for immune and digestive support.

#4: Bye-Bye Artificial Sweetener

I’ve made a point to eliminate artificial sweeteners in my diet. You have to check the ingredients to identify them. Here's information to help you get started on identifying artificial sweeteners in your food purchases. 

One concern about artificial sweeteners is they affect the body’s ability to gauge how many calories are being consumed. Some studies show sugar and artificial sweeteners affect the brain in different ways. The human brain responds to sweetness with signals to eat more. By providing a sweet taste without any calories, however, artificial sweeteners cause us to crave more sweet foods and drinks, which can add up to excess calories.

For this reason, I no longer use sucralose (Splenda), saccharin (Sweet-n-Low), or aspartame (Nutrasweet, Equal) to sweeten anything. For example, I now buy full-calorie yogurt and not sugar-free. I also stopped drinking diet soda. 

#5: Purge the Sugar in My Kitchen

I am prone to getting cravings after dinner – despite whether I’m hungry or not. What to do? One tactic I teach clients is this 4 step process: delay, distract, deflect, downsize, and I implemented it myself. 

I’ve found it’s best to clean out anything in my kitchen that could serve as a trigger. I need to remove as much of the temptation as possible. If I really need to eat something sweet, I try to choose fruit. 

#6: Oil Pulling

Oil Pulling is an ancient Ayurvedic remedy for oral health and detoxification. It involves the use of pure oils as agents for pulling harmful bacteria, fungus, and other organisms out of the mouth, teeth, gums, and even throat.  

I only recently started oil pulling, and although it doesn’t decrease cravings, I certainly can’t eat if I have oil in my mouth! I place about a Tablespoon of high-quality organic coconut oil into my mouth, let it dissolve, and swish it around for 10-15 minutes. I spit it out in the trash can (not the sink because it solidifies which can clog the drain).

I started with small changes when it came to deciding which sweets to remove from my diet. Once I felt like I had made a real, permanent change, I moved on to the next major sugar source.

Have you ever tried to kick a sugar addiction? 

What has helped you along the way? I would love to hear them!

In Health and Happiness,

Kelly Harrington, MS, RDN

Registered Dietitian Nutritionist for Healthy Goods

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