Learn to Live Without Sugar, Part 2

So, you’ve decided to break up with sugar, or you are at least thinking about cutting back.  But what about the sugar cravings?  How are you going to get through that 3:00 afternoon slump?

 In my last post, I talked about ways to Trade and Upgrade for sugar.  Anytime you eliminate something that is important to you, it’s a good idea to find ways to replace it in your life.  So, if you haven’t read Learn to Live Without Sugar, Part 1, I recommend that you go back and look at it. 

 Today I want to go over some nutrition basics that will help you understand some of the reasons why you might be craving sugar.  Sugar tastes good, for sure.  But we crave it for more than just the flavor.  Sugar gives you energy, but why does it do that?  And are there other ways to keep your energy going?

 When we eat, our bodies utilize our foods in a variety of ways.  We use our food to provide energy, to repair tissues, to build hormones, and to keep us in homeostasis (proper balance).  When we use food for energy, our bodies process it down into a form that can be carried into our cells, where it is used for energy.

 When you eat sugary or processed foods, your body processes them very quickly.  It’s like throwing kindling on a fire.  It burns hot and fast.  The food is processed into glucose (a form of sugar) and is transferred into your blood stream.  Your body then pumps out a hormone called insulin (a storage hormone) that takes the glucose and carries into the cells so that it can be used for energy.

 Here’s the problem — because this process happens so quickly, your blood sugar spikes.  Then your body goes into emergency mode to bring it back down and then your blood sugar dips.  At that point you feel tired, hungry, maybe even dizzy or shaky.  So you eat more sugar and the cycle starts again.

 How can we avoid this?  The trick is to rely on food that isn’t just the kindling.  We need some slow burning logs that will provide our cells with energy, but won’t spike our blood sugar and put us on that blood sugar roller coaster.

 Enter fats and protein.  Our bodies process these nutrients more slowly.  So we avoid emergency mode and our blood sugar stays more constant.  It will still go up and down, but it will be in gentle waves, instead of crazy spikes.

 Protein and fat they provide energy over a longer period of time.  So you get hungry less frequently and have more consistent energy. 

So, now for the real question….. What should you be eating? 

 Protein-rich foods:

  • Meat

  • Chicken

  • Fish

  • Eggs

  • Full-fat dairy (say good-bye to watery milk)

  • Nuts, seeds and legumes

 Healthy fats:

  • Butter (yes, really) grassfed is best

  • Animal fats (tallow, lard, even bacon grease – again, yes, really)

  • Plant-based fats like olive oil, coconut oil, avocados, nuts, and seeds

Avoid fats like vegetable oil, corn oil and canola oil.  These fats cause inflammation in the body and are not the heart-healthy wonders we have been led to believe.

 If you include some protein and healthy fat with each meal and snack, you will likely find that you have more sustained energy, fewer crashes, and even fewer sugar cravings.

Kathy Kiger