I always believed I was a pretty healthy girl. I watched what I ate, balanced out my calories in and calories out, exercised fairly regularly (although I had months go by without a workout in some stages of my life), and ate sweets in moderation. Since I maintained my weight for 20+ years after high school, I thought I was #winning.
But, I really wasn’t that healthy. I wasn’t eating the foods that are rich in nutrients, and it was starting to take a toll on my body. My digestion was one of the first indications that something wasn’t right, and then my skin became a problem.
That’s when I decide to start making changes in my diet. I became aware of how much sugar I was actually eating, and slowly but surely I got it out of my diet. I am a self proclaimed sweet tooth. If I can do it, I know you can too!
But, I know what you are asking yourself (because I sure did) “Is it really worth it?” I don’t want to give up those tasty delights unless there is a big payoff.
You probably guessed it.
Yes! It is worth it!
Refined sugar, is extracted from either sugar cane or beets and then refined. It is found in most packaged foods, even foods that no one would consider sweet. And it goes by many names. Here are just a few:
Fruit juice concentrate
During the process, it is striped of its vitamins, minerals and fiber. It actually requires extra effort from the body to digest sugar. The body must deplete its own store of minerals and enzymes to absorb sugar properly. Therefore, instead of providing the body with nutrition, refined sugar creates deficiencies.
Sugar has a lot of negative health impacts: it can suppress the immune system, weaken eyesight, cause hypoglycemia, cause weight gain, exacerbate arthritis, contribute to the development of osteoporosis, actually increase cholesterol, contribute to development of diabetes. And it speeds skin aging, causes poor concentration, and lead to mood swings and depression.
Unfortunately, knowing all of this doesn’t make it any easier to cut it out of our diet. Why not?
Sugar is a truly addictive substance. Eating even a small amount creates a desire for more.
And, when you do suddenly quit eating sugar, you experience withdrawal symptoms such as headaches, mood swings, cravings and fatigue.
Understanding its addictive nature is reason to be relieved. It isn’t a weakness of willpower that has you scavenging the pantry for cookies after dinner. Just like any addiction, you need a more powerful plan to break the cycle.
In the next few posts I will be sharing tips for getting to the root cause of your cravings. By addressing them at the root, you can gradually and painlessly eliminate sugar from your lifestyle.
First, let’s look at the concept of Yin/Yang balance.
Eating foods that throw our body out of balance can create food cravings. It is very helpful to look at this idea under the lens of Yin/Yang balance.
We can put all our foods along the Yin/Yang spectrum. Yin foods are the ones that are cool and expanding in nature, while Yang foods are ones that are warm and contracting in nature.
When we eat too much Yang foods – such as red meat, salt and egg, our body will want some Yin foods to restore balance. Sugar, alcohol, and even coffee are extreme Yin foods that our body would usually crave.
Have you ever felt like you needed some dessert after a meal? I sure have! Now I understand why.
Armed with this knowledge, you can reduce your sugar cravings by eating foods that will provide a balance. Choose foods that are more neutral on the Yin/Yang spectrum. Examples are whole grains, beans, root vegetables, and winter squash.
This was a new concept for me, and I was skeptical at first. But, it actually makes sense, and more importantly, it works.
If you are ready to kick your sugar habit, and incorporate balanced foods into your lifestyle, then check out my Holiday Reboot. It is a 3 day clean eating program that will keep you fit through the holidays. And, when you kick those cravings, you can enjoy the holidays while staying healthy without deprivation. Win Win!!
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