Overcoming Sugar Addictions & The Best Natural Substitutes
Over the past century, the food industry has orchestrated a move toward addictive “white gold” or refined sugar (as it's commonly known) for commercial benefit.
This has in turn resulted in the proliferation of massive sugar refineries and the addition of processed sugar to just about every packaged food and drink product on today's supermarket shelf.
It's no coincidence that during this time, we've seen an epidemic of diseases like Obesity, Diabetes, Cardiovascular Disease, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and neurodegenerative conditions like Alzheimer's etc.
Not only is refined sugar highly addictive because of the way it affects the brain, it is also commonly added to food products that are laden with toxic chemical additives and preservatives, compounding the poisonous long term impact on the body and brain.
Because refined sugar is so readily available and hidden in so many foods from cereals, to breads, cookies, crackers, candies, energy bars & drinks and soda pop, most people today inadvertently consume far too much - on average 20 teaspoons of refined sugar each day!
Problem #1 is the chemical nature of the processed sugar itself, but even more alarming, is the addictive nature and vicious cycle that the ongoing consumption of refined sugar promotes within the body.
From a young age, many kids are raised on a staple diet of sugary breakfast cereals, white bread, biscuits and soda pop and this is a very difficult cycle to break once it becomes habit for an individual.
It's difficult to break because the appetite for sugar becomes so strong that the individual relies on it for a 'hit', almost like an addict does with a drug.
The big multi-national food corporations know this and it’s the primary reason they continue to pack their products with processed sugar and other unhealthy ingredients.
It's ultimately how they create customers for life for their products and a massive industry that feeds into the pharmaceutical "sick care" industry as well.
The spin off from the refined sugar industry is that we have a growing generation of people suffering from Obesity, Diabetes, Chronic Fatigue and Depression and even debilitating, life-threatening conditions like Cancer, who need to break the cycle.
Before we get into ways that to overcome sugar addictions, it's important to first address the topic of Sugar more broadly so that there is no confusion.
Not All Sugar is Bad
In my blog, The Truth About Sugar, I talked about there being only 2 kinds of sugar that exist and the fundamental characteristics of each:
1). Man-Made Sugar - Simple carbohydrates, called “fast sugars”, are all processed, refined or artificial, synthetic sugars;
2). Plant-Made Sugar - Complex carbohydrates, called “slow sugars”, generally unrefined and in their original form from fruit and raw whole foods.
It’s important to emphasise the difference between these 2 types of sugar to put your mind at rest about the debate that “all sugar is bad” and “Don’t eat fruit because it contains sugar!”
When you understand the health-promoting and healing properties of unrefined sugars found in all plants (all fruits and vegetables like sweet potato) it changes the paradigm.
In a blog I wrote titled, So you can’t heal Diabetes? I explained the importance of actually increasing the amount of plant-made sugar from whole foods as part of a process to heal diabetes naturally over time. The challenge for people to grasp is that it's the complete opposite to what the medical world (who prescribes toxic insulin) will tell you to do.
Understandably this confusion is magnified when people check the nutritional summaries listed on food packaging. The sugar content index lumps all sugar together and doesn’t differentiate between natural plant-made or artificial man-made sugars. It can be confusing to the uninitiated consumer.
A good example is the sacred raw dried fruit, nut and seed snack that I offer called Pulse
Even though it's nothing but plant whole foods, on the nutritional label it states “Sugars” 34.7g per 100g, more than 3 times as much as a typical can of Cola which is refined artificial “empty calories” devoid of any nutritional value whatsoever!
So if you suffer from sugar addictions, obesity, diabetes, chronic fatigue, brain problems or cancer, the key is to transition as quickly as possible to getting your energy from unrefined, plant-made sugars and limiting or eliminating your intake of processed man-made sugars from your diet altogether.
Instead of focusing so much on the nutritional values and recommended daily intake, far better to hone in on the ingredients because refined sugar can also be disguised with these aliases:
- Corn Syrup
- High-fructose Corn Syrup
- Malt syrup
Negative Health Effects of Refined Sugar
Simple man-made sugars take their toll on your body in a number of ways.
Their molecular size is so small that they cross the blood-brain barrier quickly, hence their name, “fast” sugars.
This causes a spike in the brain, throwing it into chaos and telling the pancreas to release insulin. Insulin in the blood stream sends messages to the body that it's in “danger” and to “lie down.”
Insulin zaps your energy, making you feel lethargic so you’ll have to rest or take a break. It also tells your body to “put on layers of fat to protect yourself,” and the body responds to that message, causing:
- Fatigue and adrenal weakness
- Contributes to cardiovascular disease & increases risk of death
- Triggers inflammation in the body
- Major cause of obesity & Type 2 Diabetes
- Unbalances gut microbiota & can lead to leaky gut symptoms
- Internal parasites thrive on it
- Induces teeth cavities
- Feeds yeast, bacteria, candida and fungus on the skin
- Increases risk of cancer & promotes cancer tumour growth
- Damage to the immune system
- Triggers a rise in blood sugar and stimulates insulin production.
Take the processed sugar out of your life, and reduce your risk of obesity and diabetes. Understand that refined sugar puts you on a treadmill and has you always wanting more!
What about artificial sweeteners you say?
The truth is that artificial sweeteners are even worse for your health than white sugar because they are neurotoxins that heat up the brain.
Artificial sweeteners, like saccharin or aspartame are not meant for your body.
They provide no useful nutrients, cause nerve degeneration, mental fog, headaches, poor sleep/wake cycles and even dis-eases like Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), Autoimmune Conditions and Cancer.
Sugar Withdrawal Symptoms
Once people stop or cut back on sugar they often experience a range of uncomfortable symptoms such as the following:
- Cravings & Hunger Pangs
- Muscle Aches
Realise that this is your body's way of overcoming and detoxing from the addiction - it's a natural withdrawal symptom response which will eventually subside.
The worst thing you can do is relapse back into eating sugar again to deal with your 'cravings'.
The sugar addiction has been formed over a long period of time and will take a little time to alleviate before you no longer desire processed sugar any more.
How to Reduce Sugar Cravings
The best way to reduce sugar cravings is to start weaning yourself off the processed sugar and sugar products by introducing a range of 'sweet' whole foods into your diet to begin with like Medjool Dates, Mangoes, Berries, Grapes and ripe, juicy Pears, Peaches etc.
An easy way is to prepare raw food smoothies combining ingredients like these:
- Raw Almond or Coconut Milk
- Frozen Bananas
- Raw Cacao Powder or Nibs
- Pitted Medjool Dates.
Combinations like these will instantly address your sugar cravings and deliver quality sugars that your brain and body will love.
It's also important to consume plenty of 'good' fats by adding plant oils into your food preparation and cooking every single day like cold-pressed Extra Virgin Olive, Macadamia, Avocado on salads and Coconut Oil for cooking due to its high heat point.
Each day add fermented foods or probiotics to your diet also, because they will help to heal and restore your gut health which has been damaged if you've been consuming heavy doses of refined sugars over a long period of time.
Best fermented foods and drinks include:
- Organic Raw Cheese and Yogurt (vegetable enzyme, no gelatin)
Also, feel free to increase your intake of fresh fruit and vegetable juices - freshly squeezed, cold-pressed juices are a great way to start your day. Learn more in my blog: Fruit & Vegetable Juicing: What You Should Know
Healthy Natural Sugar Substitutes
If you have a natural 'sweet tooth' there's no need to deny this by avoiding sweet additives, just be sure to use healthy, natural unrefined varieties like these:
Raw Honey is replacing all kinds of sugar because more and more people are realising it's benefits and taste over processed sugar. Honey is assimilated directly into the bloodstream and is one of the healthiest, mineral-rich foods you can eat. Just be sure you select locally produced, raw, organic honey not a commercial brand.
Maple syrup is a gift to the world. This viscous amber coloured liquid is made from the sap of black or red maple trees. It is characterized by an earthy, sweet taste. Maple syrup is created by the process of tapping or piercing a tree. This process enables the sap to run out freely. As it exits the tree, the sap is clear and almost tasteless as it is very low in sugar content at this point. Maple syrup is sweet, and we’re not just talking flavour. This natural treat that is an excellent source of manganese and a good source of zinc, can also be sweet for your health.
Blackstrap molasses is a sweetener that is actually good for you. Sugar and corn syrup are stripped of virtually all nutrients except simple carbohydrates. A spoonful of Molasses helps your calcium needs go down. Molasses is also has a lot of iron and is an excellent source of copper and manganese and a very good source of potassium and magnesium.
Blackstrap molasses is a healthful sweetener that contains significant amounts of a variety of minerals that lead to better health.
Organic Green Stevia
Stevia, a natural sweetener that does not impact blood sugar levels. Stevia is nature’s sweet gift to all of us. This remarkable plant, from the rainforests of Paraguay, is up to 300 times sweeter than sugar, does not affect blood sugar levels, and has no calories. It is nutritious, non-carcinogenic, non-toxic, and safe for diabetics and hypoglycemics.
Stevia is also an exceptional aid in weight loss management because it contains no calories and reduces the craving for sweets and fatty foods. Steviosides, the principle sugar molecule component of stevia, pass through the human alimentary canal without being altered by digestive processes, demonstrating remarkable stability. They simply cannot be broken down into their metabolites under normal gastric conditions.
As a result, the sugar molecules pass unchanged through the human gastrointestinal tract and are not absorbed into the blood, producing no calories. Preliminary research indicates that stevia may actually reset the hunger mechanism in people where the pathway between the hypothalamus and the stomach has become obstructed. In other words, it clears the communication pathway between the stomach and the brain, reducing hunger sensations faster.
Sugar Cane Juice
Available throughout the year, vapourated cane juice is a healthy alternative to refined sugar. While both sweeteners are made from sugar cane, evaporated cane juice doesn’t go through the same degree of processing that refined sugar does. Unlike refined sugar, it keeps more of the nutrients found in sugar cane.