Cut the Sugar in 3 Easy Steps

By Jenné Claiborne February 18, 2014 Categories: Nutrition IQ

 

Sugar makes us feel so good—that is, until it doesn’t. No one enjoys the cravings, guilt, and health problems that come with being addicted to the processed sugar  that’s abundant in many desserts, snacks, and candies.

It only makes sense that we’re crazy for sugar. Ten thousand years ago, our ancestors came to understand that sweet foods give energy. We’re hard-wired to desire sweet-tasting things. But in our modern world, sweet foods are often the least nutritious. Processed sugar has been studied for its addictive effects and linked to type 2 diabetes, obesity, behavioral issues in children, and fatigue in adults.

So how do you break the cycle of sugar’s highs and lows? Here are three simple steps that you can start implementing today. Don’t forget, sugar can be addictive, so depending on the strength of your cravings, it may take longer to let it go. Don’t give up!

 

1. Stay hydrated  Many common cravings are linked to dehydration. Whether you think you’re craving sweet, salty, crunchy, or soft, it could just be your cells asking to be energized and quenched. Drinking a glass of water at the start of a craving is a good way to determine where your craving is coming from. Drinking adequate amounts of water throughout the day will lessen cravings and help keep your body functioning optimally.

 

2. Eat sweet vegetables  Foods like sweet potatoes, carrots, and winter squash are great sources of healthful sugars. Thanks to other nutrients like fiber that are present in these sweet veggies, the sugar is absorbed into your system a lot more slowly. This prevents a sugar high (and crash), and delivers a steady stream of energy. My favorite way to satisfy a sweet craving with vegetables is to roast sweet potatoes or winter squash with coconut oil and a dash of sea salt. Roasting allows the natural sugars to caramelize to perfection. Cinnamon and ginger are great spices to add to bring out vegetables’ natural sweetness.

 

3. Move it!  Like sugar, exercise releases feel-good endorphins and serotonin in your brain. When you’re energized from physical activity, you’ll be less likely to have sugar cravings throughout the day. Also, when you add more physical activity into your life you might find yourself craving healthier forms of fuel (I know I do). Instead of refined sugar, I crave fresh fruit after a workout. My favorite late-night sweet snack has become goji berries with almonds—sometimes with a few vegan chocolate chips.

 

By embracing a healthier lifestyle with few, if any, processed foods, you’ll naturally start to crave fewer unhealthy sweets. Sweet foods aren’t evil, you’ve just got to choose the right ones!

 

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Jenné Claiborne is passionate about helping women adopt and maintain a plant-based diet so they can improve their energy, lose weight, and feel their very best. She is the founder of The Nourishing Vegan, a New York–based personal chef service. She is also the creator of Sweet Potato Soul, a vegan food blog that features recipes, tips, and cooking videos. In 2013, Jenné launched the 21-Day Vegan Blueprint, an interactive online program that takes the guess work out of becoming vegan. Follow Jenné on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.

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comments

Amal, yes the sweeteners you mentioned are good examples of natural sources of healthy sugar. Though for honey, I would only eat it raw. Pasteurization destroys its benefits, and leaves it just as nutrient void as white sugar. I use dates to sweeten many of my desserts, and I also love coconut nectar/sugar! Avi, great point about grains. Many people are indeed carbohydrate sensitive, and high glycemic grains can certainly raise our blood sugar levels too high. Suzi, you go girl! You're definitely on a role with your sugar cleanse. Keep it up :)

Jenné Claiborne - 2014-02-21 01:51:05

Just three days off of sugar and my cravings, even thoughts about it fade away, those three days are tough sometimes, my grandfather was superintendent of a sugar factory so it was ever present in our meals, even an 8th inch of it on grapefruit in the morning. Now, I use Lucini Balsamico® as featured in this month's VT page 18, exclusively on my salads. It is so rich and delicious (and yes, sweet) that I need nothing else and never crave dessert afterwards. No need for oil either.

Suzi Conklin - 2014-02-20 17:22:13

Great advice. Just remember, consuming grains contributes to sugar addictions and you can't get all the nutrition you need like DHA and EPA Omega-3s from plants.

Avi Marranazo - 2014-02-19 07:16:25

What about dried fruits dates and honey? Aren't they natural sources of sugars

amal - 2014-02-19 05:07:13