Written by Wendy Vigdor-Hess, RDN, CECP, Holistic Healer
WellCoach, Author and Speaker
Most people are addicted to sugar, some may not even realize it since they may not eat a lot of “sweet treat” type foods but consume it through their “regular” dietary intake. It is easy to overlook the quantity of sugar we ingest on a daily basis with sugar being in so many of our foods such as yogurt, lunchmeat, sauces, dressings, drinks, packaged foods and more. Those foods, however, leave us craving more, and we reach for more food and/or additional sweet foods, all resulting in the potential for weight gain, metabolic challenges, diabetes, high cholesterol and other health complications.
With information about the negative effects of sugar becoming more mainstream in our media, it is not a surprise that limiting our intake of sugar can have beneficial results. One of the challenges, however, is how to do this without the “addictive craving” cycle happening and avoiding the temptations of our reach for sugar. Here are some simple steps to start:
Eliminate all artificial sweeteners and low-fat and fat-free foods containing artificial sweeteners (this includes Splenda®). Replace them with whole foods and alternative sweeteners such as pure maple syrup or coconut sugar, in moderation.
Eat balanced meals or mini snacks. Whether you are a “meal person” or more of a snacker, having food every 3-4 hours while addressing sugar addiction is crucial. This means having meals and snacks that are higher in protein and healthy fat with some complex carbohydrates coming from vegetables or high protein grain. It is common to crave sugar when we don’t have enough calories. For instance, people who want to lose weight tend to eat minimally and then are starving later in the day and reach for sugar and chips and then feel bad that they don’t have willpower. This isn’t about willpower! Our bodies need fuel and learning how to put your food together can do wonders for minimizing sugar addiction!! Some snack examples include:
An apple with a handful of almonds
½ avocado with a turkey stick
A handful of curried cashews and a slice of turkey
Celery sticks with 2 Tbsp. peanut butter
½ cup black bean dip with cucumber slices
Eliminate soda and sports drinks. Instead, transition to sparkling water with flavored stevia (in cola, grape or root beer flavors), a fizzy kombucha or unsweetened herbal teas.
Drink water! Every day, drink an adequate amount of clean water. Aim for your body weight divided in half in ounces (about 75 ounces of water for every 150 pounds of body weight).
Choose items with 4 grams or less of sugar per serving. So if you like yogurt or protein bars, choose the ones that have less sugar per serving.
Get familiar with net carbohydrates. When looking at a food label, take the Total Carbohydrates minus the fiber to get your net carbs for that item. Notice how much you are having per day. Check with your healthcare provider and/or a dietitian to determine a goal most supportive for your unique needs.
Check your HgbA1C at your next check up. This refers to glycated hemoglobin (A1c), which identifies average plasma glucose concentration. This blood lab value indicates how your blood sugar has fluctuated over the last 3 months. Aim for 5.5 or less.
Notice your salt intake. For processed foods, aim for no more than 140 mg per serving. Salt intake affects sugar cravings. Maintaining a healthy balance between these two natural desires for salty and sweet will help control your cravings in either direction.
Be patient with yourself. Small steps and incremental changes create bigger change. Start with one of these points and incorporate it before moving to the next.
For additional support, feel free to contact Wendy for a session. She works both in person and internationally. You can also stay connected with other tips about sugar, healthy lifestyle and balanced living through her website, blog and Facebook pages. www.vigdorhess.com and Wellness with Wendy Vigdor-Hess on Facebook.
To purchase a signed copy of her book, contact her at email@example.com or purchase it through Amazon.
If you would like additional help with navigating your love with sugar, consider purchasing her Transforming Your Relationship with Food: Sugar Series through www.sugarseries.com
She is currently writing another program and workbook (due out Spring 2017) to go along with her webinar with expanded service to you addressing the many avenues we get stuck when shifting sugar addiction! To be part of this new program, please provide Wendy with your email!
Here are a couple of delicious recipes from my book, Sweetness Without Sugar :
Hot Chocolate (p. 125) (Serves 1)
From Wendy’s Sweetness Without Sugar
½ cup unsweetened coconut milk
1 cup unsweetened, dairy-free milk (e.g. almond, hemp)
1 Tbsp. slightly heaping, unsweetened, dairy-free cacao powder
¼ tsp. cinnamon
½ tsp. alcohol-free vanilla flavoring
Pinch of nutmeg and/or cloves or cardamom
4-6 drops SweetLeaf liquid stevia (to your taste)
Mix all ingredients in a saucepan over medium low heat. Add stevia drops after heated. For those of you who like a sweeter taste, I’ve made this recipe with pure maple syrup too.
Dollops of Love Treat
By Wendy Vigdor-Hess
For a simple spoonful of yum, here is an easy to make treat for yourself and your loved ones:
1 Tbsp. nut or seed butter (e.g. almond, cashew, sunflower, tahini, etc.)
1 Tbsp. unsweetened coconut milk (the cream, thick part) or cream
1/2 - 1 Tbsp. melted raw or unsweetened chocolate or cacao (can use powder;
just mix the powder with liquid ingredients first)
4-5 drops stevia liquid (or to taste) or 1 tsp. pure maple syrup
1 tsp. maca powder (adds a malted type taste)
1 tsp. dried, unsweetened Gobi or blueberries or sliced strawberries
Mix all ingredients together until smooth and creamy. Add enough liquid to make it paste-like to form a "dollop" or ball. To make a delicious consistency, you may need to add more liquid if powdered cocoa, mace or dried berries are added.
Makes: 2 dollops
Time required: minutes
Wendy Vigdor-Hess. Sweetness Without Sugar: A Resource Guide for Healthy Dairy, Egg and Gluten-Free Sweet Treats Made with Healthy Sweeteners. (SolThea Press, 2011).