Sugar is one of the best things we can cut down on – but giving up the sweet stuff is tough when it’s as addictive as cocaine.
From a can of fizzy drink to leftover Christmas chocolates, it has become the SOS ingredient of choice.
Nutritionist and author Christianne Wolff reveals how and why you should say goodbye to sugar in 2020.
Despite being sourced from sugar cane, the sugar we consume is heavily processed and nowhere near as healthy as other plant-based products.
It can give a burst of energy followed by a lull as blood sugar levels come crashing down.
So often the remedy is to scoff more.
Many people live in this binge drug cycle of waking up with caffeine and sugary cereal, a mid-morning sugary snack, a mid-
afternoon sugar snack and by the evening are so wired they need sugary wine.
Scientists claim sugar is as addictive as cocaine, if not more.
In my day job as a nutritionist, I run sugar-free challenges and often hear statements like: “I would die if I gave up sugar.”
Yet people do give up. It’s possible with key methods that make it easy mentally and physically and emotionally – all the ways we are addicted.
To combat cravings I advise clients to consider the downside of sugar. There are quite a few.
One property not widely known is that it is hugely inflammatory.
When people give it up, even just for a short amount of time, they start to see real results from inflammatory issues.
Their skin improves, their digestion improves, they lose the bloat.
Inflammation is not great for our immune system so the last thing you want for a winter flu is medicine laden with sugar.
Sugar makes you gain weight and can contribute to diabetes, heart disease and cancer.
It also ages your skin by being dehydrating. It depletes you of many nutrients just by processing it.
So you need extra vitamins to compensate for it.
It also affects your sleep, yet a burst of sugar is often the thing we reach for when we’re tired.
This is where the emotional addiction comes in. We use it to comfort us so when choosing to cut down we need to learn how to get out of this cycle.
With my clients on my sugar-free challenge, I focus on processed sugar not fruit.
Instead of a sugary breakfast, we recommend a nutrient dense smoothie, which helps the body fight the disease off rather than having to fight off the added toxins in sugary foods.
The green smoothie I make is full of the nutrients that can help kill sugar cravings.
Then there is good fat, like half an avocado, which helps make you fuller for longer.
Berries give flavour and high nutrients, which help because the body can crave sugar through tiredness and lack of nutrients.
I also use coconut water, which is naturally sweet but also a great natural electrolyte for training.
This is particularly helpful if you are using it as an energy drink.
Adding a green veg like spinach helps balance blood sugar levels so you don’t get the low energy at 5pm.
Often the main reason people crave sugar at lunchtime is because they fail to take on nutrients early in the day.
I also recommend sugar-free chocolate and give further advice on how to cope emotionally without sugar.
But a smoothie a day is a great way to get on the road to a low-sugar lifestyle.