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How to End a Love Affair With Sugar

How to End a Love Affair With Sugar

It’s 3:00 pm, and you are seriously craving sweets.

But you promised yourself that you wouldn’t eat sugar anymore. And ever since you made that commitment, sweets are all you can think about. The pull is so great that you can’t concentrate, so you cave. You eat it anyway, and as you eat it, you tell yourself “it’s just this once; tomorrow will be different.”

But it’s not just this once. You’ve been telling this to yourself for quite some time now: the sugar cravings are now controlling your behavior.

It doesn’t have to be this way.

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love affair with sugar

    Willpower doesn’t work

    You intend to quit sugar, but for some reason you still eat it. The trouble is, you’ve been relying on willpower and you’re discovering that willpower alone doesn’t work in the long term. Your motivation must be powerful enough to overcome any desire to eat sugar, and you need a way to curb the chemical side of sugar cravings.

    Who says you have to quit eating sugar?

    I’m quitting sugar because ___________ says I should. How would you fill in the blank?  Why does that other person say that you should quit eating sugar? Here are some examples:

    • My family says that I should quit eating sugar because I have mood swings.
    • This diet book says that I should quit eating sugar because I will lose weight faster based on (these studies).
    • My doctor says that I should quit eating sugar because I am diabetic, and it could kill me if I’m not careful with my blood sugar levels.

    These motivations originate from other people telling you that you need to quit eating sugar, and if this is your motivation, you are more likely to fail.

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    The motivation must come from you

    The driving force must come from you if you are to succeed at this. 

    For example: I need to quit eating sugar, because…

    • I want to be a good role model for my toddler (who wants to eat everything that I eat).
    • I cannot stop myself from eating when I get sugar cravings.

    But what if their reasoning is solid? Isn’t that good enough? Yes, however, you need to tweak the motivation so that it comes from you.

    For example: I need to quit eating sugar because….

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    • my mood swings hurt the people that I love.
    • I cannot shed weight any other way.
    • I want to live a long, healthy life, and my diabetes will kill me if I don’t quit.

    See how this is different? To make this work effectively, your tweak needs to come from you, and it needs to be powerful enough to overcome temptation when it arises. Once your motivation is clear, you need to have a plan that will help you on the chemical side of things.

    Reduce sugar in stages

    Toss out the “all-or-nothing” mentality—it doesn’t work. Doing it in stages is the most effective way to quit without having uncontrollable sugar cravings.

    Stage 1: Eliminate most forms of sugar

    At first, you need to stop eating most forms of sugar, but you need an emergency sweet  that will work for you when you get a craving. This sweet should not send your blood sugar as haywire as with sugar. If your ideal diet does not include the items in stage 1, you can tweak it in stage 2, once you have control of your cravings.

    • Eliminate all sweets (including sugar substitutes), except fruit, organic raw agave nectar, stevia, and maple syrup. 

    This will eliminate a lot of the problem foods, yet allow for some indulgences that you can purchase at a health food store.

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    • Eliminate (or drastically reduce) pasta, rice, and bread. These complex carbohydrates break down into simple sugars, so they contribute to sugar cravings and the mid-afternoon slump. They can also make you feel very sleepy if you eat them for lunch, so it’s best to eat other carbs for now.
    • Create a supportive environment. Remove everything from your home that you are not allowed to eat. If it’s not in the house, you’re less likely to go out and get your fix. Or, if you do, you are more likely to go to a health food store and buy something that is consistent with your plan.
    • Hold yourself accountable. Post your intentions on Facebook, Twitter, or post a comment here. Explain your new way of eating to your friends and family so that they can support you.

    When will you be ready for stage 2? You’ll begin to feel in control of your food intake and your cravings, and this level of control may surprise you. Once you’re in control, you’re ready to tweak it, if you wish. (Or, you can just stay with it like this. It’s up to you!)

    Stage 2: Be clear about your ideal, and tweak your diet to fit it.

    Clearly draw the line so that there is no doubt of what you will eat and and what you will not:

    Will you allow…

    • sugar substitutes? (xylitol, aspartame, saccharin, stevia, sucralose)
    • less processed sugar (succanat, turbinado, evaporated sugar cane juice, etc.)?
    • milk? (Lactose is a form of sugar.)
    • beet sugar?
    • grains?
    • vegetables? If so, will you only eat leafy greens, or will you include legumes, tubers and roots?
    • fruit? If so, will you limit your intake of fruit to certain kinds of fruits?
    • sweet syrupy substances, such as high fructose corn syrup, maple syrup, or agave nectar? If it’s agave nectar, does your answer change if it is raw and organic?

    Once you have your ideal in mind, write down what forms of sugar you will allow yourself to eat on an ideal day. Now, tweak stage 1, and you’re golden!

    Readers: What do you plan to eliminate at stage 2? Hold yourself accountable here by posting a comment below!

     

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    Last Updated on February 21, 2019

    Top 9 Foods for Incredible Brian Health And Brain Power

    Top 9 Foods for Incredible Brian Health And Brain Power

    Your brain is the most intricate and powerful organ in your entire body. It’s essentially a super-computer with brain power like a Ferrari.

    If you have a Ferrari, would you put cheap gasoline in it? Of course not. You want to put in high-octane performance fuel to get the most out of your investment.

    When it comes to the brain, many people are looking for the top foods that will supercharge the brainpower to help focus better, think more clearly and have better brain health.

    In this article, we’ll look at the top 9 brain foods that will help create supercharge your brain with energy and health:

    1. Salmon

    Salmon has long been held as a healthy brain food, but what makes this fish so valuable for your brain health?

    It’s important to understand that your brain is primarily made up of fat. Roughly 60% of your brain is fat. One of the most important fats that the brain uses as a building block for healthy brain cells is omega-3’s.

    Omega-3’s are essential for building a healthy brain but one of the most important omega-3’s for your brain is DHA. DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) forms nearly two-thirds of the omega-3’s found in your brain.[1]

    Omega-3’s and DHA in particular help form the protective coating around our neurons. The better quality this coating is, the more efficient and effective our brain cells can work, allowing our brain power to work at full capacity.

    Studies have shown that being deficient in DHA can affect normal brain development in children, which is why so many infant formulas and children’s supplements are beginning to include DHA.

    Being deficient in DHA as an adult can cause focus and attention problems, mood swings, irritability, fatigue and poor sleep.

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    2. Blueberries

    Blueberries top the list as one of the most beneficial fruits to maximize your brain health and performance.

    Blueberries have some of the highest content of antioxidants, particularly anthocyanins, than any other fruit, which helps protect the brain from stress and promote healthy brain aging.

    Blueberries antioxidant content also help reduce inflammation, which allows the brain to maintain healthy energy levels.

    Blueberries have begun to receive attention for their connection to brain performance.[2] Studies have demonstrated that eating blueberries on a regular basis can not only improve brain health but also brain performance as well including working memory.[3]

    Blueberries not only taste great but are low in calories, high in Vitamin C, Vitamin K and Manganese.

    3. Turmeric

    Turmeric is a very impressive spice that has well-researched and proven to have tremendous benefits for your brain. Turmeric’s main compound that benefits the brain is called curcumin, which is responsible for turmerics bright yellow appearance.

    Curcumin has been shown to have anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antiviral, antibacterial, antifungal, and anti-cancer properties.[4]

    Curcumin increases the production and availability of two important neurotransmitters serotonin and dopamine, two important neurotransmitters involved with happiness, motivation, pleasure, and reward.

    Curcumin has been well documented to have powerful anti-depressive effects. In one study, it was found to be as effective for depression as popular medications such as SSRI’s like Prozac.[5]

    Curcumin has also been shown to:

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    • Increase blood flow to the brain.[6]
    • Increase BDNF production, a powerful stimulator of neuroplasticity.[7]
    • Increase DHA availability and synthesis in the brain.[8]
    • Increase antioxidant levels in the brain to prevent brain aging and inflammation.[9]

    4. Coffee

    Coffee is the wonderful elixir of energy that many people cherish every single morning. The biggest reason people drink coffee is to get a dose of caffeine.

    Caffeine is a natural neurological stimulant that not only gives you energy but also prevents adenosine, a neurotransmitter involved with feeling tired, from binding in the brain.

    Many people are surprised to find that coffee actually contains a large quantity of antioxidants called polyphenols, which are important for reducing inflammation in the brain and keep your brain energized. The antioxidants in coffee also provide a neuroprotective effect, protecting the brain from stress and damage. [R]

    Coffee can also:

    • Improve alertness and concentration.[10]
    • Help with neurodegenerative disorders like Parkinson’s disease.[11]
    • Reduce your risk of depression.[12]
    • Improve your memory.
    • Provide short-term boost in athletic performance.[13]

    5. Broccoli

    What was your least favorite food as a kid growing up?

    Most likely, broccoli was your answer.

    Broccoli may not have been your top choice, but it might be the top choice for your brain.

    Broccoli contains a compound called sulforaphane. Sulforaphane has been shown to promote the proliferation and survival of brain cells by reducing inflammation and boosting production of BDNF. It has also been shown to boost neurogenesis, the production of new brain cells.[14]

    Broccoli is also loaded with important nutrients Vitamin K and Folate. Vitamin K plays a vital role in protecting brain cells.[15] Folate plays a crucial role in detoxification and reducing inflammation in the brain.

    6. Bone broth

    Bone broth wasn’t just created to combine with soups, you can actually drink bone broth by itself.

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    Drinking bone broth has become one of the biggest trends in the health and wellness industry and for good reason. Bone broth isn’t actually a new thing. Bone broth has been used for centuries as a healing tonic to promote health and longevity.

    Much of the nutritional benefits and value of bone broth comes from its substantial vitamin and mineral content. Primarily calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, and potassium.

    Your gut is called your second brain for a reason. Research continually shows that there is a direct and indirect connection between your gut and your brain. Your gut also houses and stores many important brain compounds involved with optimal brain performance. Therefore the health of your gut is vitally important for your brain health and performance.

    Bone broth has become a go-to tool for helping heal the gut and provide the gut with the vital nutrient and resources it needs to heal and perform optimally.

    With the vast amounts of nutrients that bone broth contains, it makes the list as a go-to food for your brain health.

    Look for high quality, organic bone broth for the best results.

    7. Walnuts

    Walnuts are one of the top choices of nuts for brain health. Walnuts also look similar to a brain.

    Amongst the wide variety of nuts available, walnuts contain the highest amounts of the important omega-3 DHA. DHA, as seen above, is a critical building block for a healthy brain.

    Walnuts also contain high amounts of antioxidants, folate, magnesium, potassium, and phosphorus, which help to lower inflammation.

    Melatonin in walnuts is an important nutrient for regulating your sleep. Having low amounts of melatonin can make it challenging to get good quality sleep and getting poor quality sleep can dramatically impair brain health and performance.

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    8. Eggs

    For years, eggs were put on the nutritional naughty list; but now, eggs are finally getting the credit they deserve. Eggs can provide a tremendous boost to your brain health and longevity.

    Eggs, particularly the yolks, contain a compound called choline. Choline is essential for building the neurotransmitter acetylcholine. Acetylcholine plays an important role in mood, memory, and intelligence.

    Egg yolks contain some of the highest quantities of choline. This is very important because low levels of choline can lead to low levels of acetylcholine, which in turn can cause increased inflammation, brain fog, difficulty concentrating and fatigue.

    9. Dark chocolate

    You’re about to love chocolate even more because chocolate, particularly dark chocolate, is great for your brain.

    Chocolate boosts levels of endorphins, your brains “feel good” chemicals. This is why you feel so good eating chocolate.[16]

    Chocolate also increases blood flow to the brain which can help improve memory, attention, focus, and reaction time.[17]

    Dark chocolate contains high levels of magnesium, which has been coined “natures valium” for its ability to calm and relax the brain.

    Lastly, dark chocolate has one of the highest antioxidant profiles out of any other food, including popular superfoods like acai berries, blueberries, or pomegranates.[18]

    Conclusion

    Your brain is a high performing organ and it uses quite a lot of energy, roughly 20% of the bodies energy demands.

    In order to maintain a healthy brain, you need the right fuel to ensure that your brain has all the nutrients it needs to perform as well as adapt to the stress of life.

    If you want to keep your brain performing well for a lifetime, then you want to make sure you are including as many of these brain health foods as possible.

    More Resources About Boosting Brain Power

    Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

    Reference

    [1] US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health: DHA Effects in Brain Development and Function
    [2] Canadian Science Publishing: Enhanced task-related brain activation and resting perfusion in healthy older adults after chronic blueberry supplementation
    [3] US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health: Cognitive effects following acute wild blueberry supplementation in 7- to 10-year-old children.
    [4] US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health: Curcumin: the Indian solid gold.
    [5] Herbal Medicine: Biomolecular and Clinical Aspects. 2nd edition.: Turmeric, the Golden Spice
    [6] US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health: Effect of combined treatment with curcumin and candesartan on ischemic brain damage in mice.
    [7] Science Direct: Curcumin reverses the effects of chronic stress on behavior, the HPA axis, BDNF expression and phosphorylation of CREB
    [8] US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health: Curcumin boosts DHA in the brain: Implications for the prevention of anxiety disorders.
    [9] PLOS: A Chemical Analog of Curcumin as an Improved Inhibitor of Amyloid Abeta Oligomerization
    [10] US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health: Effects of Caffeine on Cognitive Performance, Mood, and Alertness in Sleep-Deprived Humans
    [11] American Academy of Neurology: A Cup of Joe May Help Some Parkinson’s Disease Symptoms
    [12] American Academy of Neurology: AAN 65th Annual Meeting Abstract
    [13] US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health: Effects of caffeine on the metabolic and catecholamine responses to exercise in 5 and 28 degrees C.
    [14] US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health: Hyperammonemia induces glial activation, neuroinflammation and alters neurotransmitter receptors in hippocampus, impairing spatial learning: reversal by sulforaphane
    [15] Oxford Academic: Vitamin K and the Nervous System: An Overview of its Actions
    [16] Diana L. Walcutt, Ph.D: Chocolate and Mood Disorders
    [17] Health Magazine: Chocolate can do good things for your heart, skin and brain
    [18] Chemistry Central Journal: Cacao seeds are a “Super Fruit”: A comparative analysis of various fruit powders and products

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