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Previous steps:

When I say that this one is easy I mean that it is just one thing that you can do that can really improve your overall diet. I don’t mean that it will be easy in the sense that dropping sweets from your diet will be a piece of cake (pun intended). Because for most people, myself included, giving up sweets requires a lot of willpower – at least at first.

Everyone agrees that white sugar is bad for you. It can deplete B vitamins, lower your immune system, spike your insulin, and pack on the pounds. So it’s a no-brainer that giving up white sugar is going to lead to a more nourishing diet. But perhaps cutting back on all sweets is a good idea as well.

What About "Good" Sweeteners?

When I first started my journey towards a more nourishing diet I banned all white sugar from our home and replaced it with sucanat, maple syrup, and honey. Because these are considered healthier sweeteners I figured that it was fine to be consuming them on a daily basis. What I didn’t realize was that they can still spike your blood sugar, making you tired and making it difficult to lose weight. And if you have candida, (which you may and not even know it), then any sweets will continue to feed those bad bacteria and keep you on a viscious cycle.

Awhile back Kimi wrote a great article titled Lessons From History: Sugar is not an Essential. In that article she echoes what I have discovered: historically sweets were mostly fruits and honey or maple syrup, found seasonally, and combined with fats. How many of us have sweets every day? I know I did. They are just everywhere now, and much to the detriment of our health.

From my own personal experience I can say that sugar, in all of its forms, is addictive. Here is a tip I learned from my chiropractor: If you feel like you are craving sweets, then you probably need to stay away from them. That includes the natural sweeteners and even fruits except lower sugar fruits such as berries and melon, eaten seasonally. I have been free of all sweeteners, most fruits, and grains for some time now and I have to say that it is so nice not to feel like I have to have that fix. It has also aided in weight loss, added energy, and has benefited my digestion.

Tips for Combatting Sugar Cravings

Here are a few things that have worked for me as I have kicked the sweets habit.

  • Give up all sweets for at least a week. This is a good way to see how your body responds. The first 3 days are the hardest, I have found, but after that you really can feel a difference. On the other hand some people, my husband included, need at least some grains and fruits because of his metabolism. This one week trial period can help you determine if your body needs the carbs or if you feel better without them.
  • Eat fat & protein if you have a sugar craving. If I do not eat enough fat I can tell because I start craving carbs. So instead of bread or fruit or honey I will have a piece of leftover chicken or my favorite whole milk yogurt smoothie with blueberries and lots of coconut oil. It really works, and the consistent energy (i.e. no afternoon crash) can really make a difference in your moods as well.
  • Try stevia. Stevia is an herb, just like basil or sage, that is incredibly sweet. You can buy the leaf whole, powdered, or in extract form. It is shown to have no effect on blood sugar, contains virtually no calories, and has been used for thousands of years by traditional cultures. It is great in tea, coffee, and whipped cream. Aspartame and splenda are not real foods and as such should be avoided.

So give it a try and see how you feel. I really wish I had sooner, especially during my pregnancies. It has made such a difference, and it is just one step.

How about you… do you have a sweet tooth or have you kicked the habit?

 

23 Responses to Huge, but Easy Step Towards a Nourishing Diet: Cut Back (or out) Sweets

  1. Denise says:

    kicking the habit and cutting back on grains. not easy but in all the reading i have been doing, i keep hearing this same message!

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  2. I fully agree – protein/fat really help to mitigate my cravings without a doubt. Indeed I just enjoyed a slice of raw cheddar cheese instead of the chocolate I was really craving.

    That said, stevia concerns me. Sure, it’s been used in traditional South American cultures for thousands of years; however, it was used as a contraceptive, not as a sweetener. I avoid it, but, of course, YMMV.

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  3. Emily says:

    You mentioned berries as a low-sugar fruit option. What about oranges and other citrus fruits? I have really been enjoying oranges lately, especially since they are in season now. Are they a high-sugar fruit?

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  4. Shannon says:

    Emily – I believe oranges are definitely higher in sugar than berries, but lemons and grapefruits are lower. It really depends on your own bodies needs. If you don’t have blood sugar problems then I’d say eat up!

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  5. Metta says:

    Stevia has been so helpful! I do eat fruits, but not nearly as often as I used to. I feel unbalanced when I eat too much. It was months before I stopped obsessively wanting chocolate chip cookies. I still want one on occasion, but not with the same ferocity as when I first went sugar-free.

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  6. Carla says:

    I am in my fourth week of giving up chocolate and sweets! I am still having a lot of cravings, so I will try some of your suggestions.

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  7. Great tips, and very applicable. Reducing my sugar intake is an ongoing process for me, but I can proudly say I’m not obsessed with the stuff anymore (and I deifnitely used to be!). What helped me is a lot of what you mention:

    - Eat plenty of fat and protein. There’s no use in trying to quit sugar before you’re eating enough real food, you’ll just get cravings.

    - Eat enough food. Not taking in enough calories can make your body crave sugar when all you need is real food. In today’s world of dieting this one is all too common. The only time my sugar cravings go away is when I’m allowing myself to eat what my body needs.

    - Eat carbs. This goes against some popular advice, but it works for me. I lowered carbs for two months and after 4-6 weeks I started experiencing massive cravings for sugar (and caffeine, too). I started eating a moderate amount of carbs again (about 150 g/day) and my sugar cravings disappeared. Weird, but true.

    - Stevia is a favorite of mine. I don’t use it exclusively, but I use it so I can reduce the amount of sweetener I would typically use. A small amount of raw honey and mostly stevia makes a great smoothie.

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    Shannon Reply:

    elizabeth – great tips!

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  8. Emily says:

    That makes sense to me, since grapefruit, lemons/limes, and berries are allowed during the first phase of the Maker’s Diet, but all other fruits are not. Thanks!

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  9. Motherhen68 says:

    I think if you’re eating the oranges and not just drinking the juice (like from the store, a bottle of juice), you’ll be ok in the sugar range. According to Drs. Eades (Protein Power), a medium sized orange has 11.5 carbs and a medium lemon has 5.1 carbs. Since I have citrus trees in my back yard, I will halve an orange and juice it, adding the juice to a smoothie. 6 carbs w/protein and fat does not cause a blood sugar spike, but an orange alone would, as if I had eaten bread. But, that’s just me!

    Sugar cravings were hard the first year I gave up carbs & sugar. I found that dark chocolate, Lindt 80% dark did the trick. One square has only like 2-3 carbs and it’s so decadent! Much more so than Hershey’s plain milk chocolate. Last night I was craving chocolate because it’s almost that time of the month. I added a teaspoon of unsweetened cocoa to my coffee. Ahh, it was ok, but it did the trick for the chocolate cravings.

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  10. Heather H. says:

    I went on a strict anti-Candida diet 22 days ago. I have never felt better. Giving up all forms of sugar was easier than I thought. Coconut in all its forms really saved me. I never would have been able to do this without butter and coconut oil.
    I have never had this much energy in my life, i’m amazed! I didn’t really realize how fatigued i was, until it was gone. I have a constant steady supply of energy, and my brain fog is completely gone.
    At some point i will slowly add back soaked whole grains, and 1 fruit per day, but for now i’m satisfied.

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  11. Tracee says:

    This was a tough road for me. The first week I gave up sugar I got flu-like symptoms. About the third week I introduced a probiotic and got severe muscle pain. It took about a year and a half to truly get over the cravings. After about 9 months I got to a place where white sugar items tasted nasty and fake but natural stuff was still bland. Now I truly enjoy natural foods. I’m still learning to like vegetable though. Now I still have an occasional sweet at a party of something, and then I’m not surprised to come down with a cold a few days later. I found the best thing to do when breaking the sugar habit was to read, read, read. Especially books like “Sugar Blues”, they helped reinforce the willpower.

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  12. Susan says:

    Have you heard of Xylitol? I use Xylo Sweet (brand name for Xylitol) which tastes almost exactly like sugar to me, has no aftertaste, contains 40% fewer calories than sugar, has anti-bacterial benefits (doesn’t promote tooth decay) and is metabolized without insulin creating a significantly lower glycemic effect when eaten. I don’t generally bake with it because of its cost but put in on cereal and in my cold and hot drinks. Just FYI.

    Susan

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    Shannon Reply:

    Susan – Yes, I have. Thank you for reminding me! I have used it before, but stopped and I can’t remember why now. Thanks for the reminder.

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  13. Jana says:

    Great post! We have been instructed by our doctor to give up sugar entirely. He also instructed us to give up artificial sweets. It is incredible the amount of items that contain sugar! Thanks so much for your post!

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  14. Michelle says:

    I’m trying to attempt cutting out all refined sugar from my diet. I’m on Day 2. But here’s my question — what would be some good examples of snacks that combine fat and protein? I’ve done cheese or nuts. But after that, I’m kind of at a loss. I have coconut oil, but I’m not really sure how to add that in, other than cooking with it.

    You mention that you have been free of all sweeteners, most fruits and grains for a while now. What do you eat then? Like what does a normal day’s menu look like for you?

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  15. Sugar is my downfall. For me, it triggers inflammation – my clothes feel tighter and my sciatica pain gets worse. I have a friend who has the same issues with her arthritis. I’ll be using your protein and fat tip as I attempt to cut back.

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  16. Alyssa Pilat says:

    re xylitol: Studies that have been done on xylitol list the following side effects: weight gain similar to sucralose, diarrhoea, tumor growth, liver and kidney dysfunction. This is what I found out when I was researching sweeteners. I got that piece of info from Elaine Hollingsworth’s book which I love love love and trust implicitly. google it if you want to find out more..

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  17. R. "Tazo" Schafer says:

    I am 63…two years ago I weighed 250 lbs and hospitalized. The doctor told me I was diabetic…before I left the hospital I decided that “sugar was simply a poison.” Since then I have been sugar-free…I now weigh 195 lbs..with normal blood sugar and I walk 5-10 miles everyday and never feel lethargic. I used to fall asleep (sugar crash) every afternoon. Now I don’t feel like napping. “Stevia,” chemically “”Erythritol,” is one of two acceptable sweeteners along with “Xylitol.” Xylitol has some benefits that stevia does not, as mentioned above, but big downside is that it is digested in large intestines by bacteria (along with sorbitol, maltitol) which causes bloating and gas. Stevia is absorbed in the blood stream in the small intestines and almost entirely excreted in urine and does not have such laxative effects. Other downside of xylitol is that most is produced in China from by-processes of corn syrup production. Downsides of stevia is that it tends to “crystalize” so difficult to make fudge-like desserts and it “does not attact moisture” so baked goods will dry out unless something else is added. Glycerin added can solve the crystalizing issue to some extent. Other names for stevia include “Only Sweet”; “PureVia (Pepsico); Reb-A, Rebiana, seetleaf, and “Truvia’(Coca-cola and Cargill). Once again, China, is the largest producer of stevia exporting primarily to Japan (consumes 40% of world’s supply). Stevia can be found in Ariz, NM, Texas and S. America and was named after Pedro Jaime Esteve (Latin: Stevia). The species is “S. rebaudiana” and can easily be grown with leaves containing 30-50% times the sweetness of sucrose (table sugar).The food additive from stevia is “rebaudioside A and stevioside (sweet glycosides) which chemically are bonded with glucose (the “sugar” which all sugars must be transformed into to be used by the brain and the body’s cells). There is a recent study showing that stevia actually has a negative glycemic index. Finally I am interested in organizing groups of people willing to campaign against the sugar pandemic sweeping the world (some studies show that in 40 years almost half our population will be diabetic) causing innumerable irreversible health conditions for the last twenty years of people’s lives. You can contact me at “aziampa@gmail.com” “Sugar” IS “Poison.”

    [Reply]

    Shannon Reply:

    R. – I totally agree that sugar is a problem for most people. Let me know if there is anything I can do.

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  18. […] Huge but easy steps towards a nourishing diet: cut back (or out) sweets […]

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