The Truth Behind Your Sweet Tooth

There are many foods that cause inflammation. These are NOT the foods that make your skin glow and provide the necessary energy to thrive. In fact, they do quite the opposite. The one food that should be eliminated to gain that energy and glow you have been missing is SUGAR.

Sugar, refined foods, and fatty foods are as addictive as substances like alcohol, tobacco, and cocaine. Studies have shown that sugar and drugs both have an effect on the brain’s reward center.

An addiction to these foods can increase your risk for depression, anxiety, and weight gain. Refined sugars and sweeteners are harmful to our health because they contain NO nutritional value. The blood sugar roller coaster that refined carbohydrates, (think bagels, bread, & pasta), and sugar create are damaging to our inner and outer being.

What does sugar do to our overall health?

  • Sugar can interfere with our absorption of protein.
  • Sugar can increase fasting levels of glucose and can cause reactive hypoglycemia (an abnormally low level of blood sugar, also known as glucose, your body’s main energy source).
  • Sugar impairs our immune system.
  • Sugar can cause many problems with the gastrointestinal tract, including an acidic digestive tract, indigestion, and malabsorption.
  • Sugar feeds cancer cells.
  • When we process sugar our bodies are stripped of minerals such as chromium, manganese, zinc, and magnesium.
  • Sugar doesn’t feed our skin well. Our complexion suffers due to damaged collagen and elastin. This leaves us with aged skin and wrinkles.

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Balancing your blood sugar will help you steer clear of the above. It will also help you kick the cravings and keep you satisfied until the next meal. Ever hear of the term “hangry”? There’s a difference between getting hungry as you naturally should, and getting to that hangry place because you’ve overdone it on bad carbs and sugar. Here are a few steps one can take to balance their blood sugar:

  • Eat more protein.
  • Eliminate simple carbohydrates and sugar.
  • Eat more complex carbohydrates.
  • Eat more healthy fats and essential fatty acids.
  • Eat more fiber.

Some of us are stronger than others when it comes to eliminating sugar from our diet. If taking it out completely sounds too extreme for you, try using some sugar substitutes.  A few include:

  • Raw honey
  • Maple syrup
  • Monk fruit

All of the above sugar substances are still processed as sugar in the body and have an effect on blood sugar. Overconsumption of anything sweet, including fruit, is not good for you. It’s important to understand how these natural sugar substances affect your health even when trying to make healthier choices.

The best approach to eliminating sugar and artificially sweetened foods is by replacing them with organic fruit and sweet starchy vegetables (in moderation of course).  Sweet potatoes and even coconut have a naturally sweet taste to them. They are also satisfying and contain a fair amount of fiber.  Spices like cinnamon and licorice are also good additions when kicking sugar to the curb.

Xylitol, a sugar alcohol, and stevia, an herb, do not have an effect on blood sugar. However, it is still important to understand that they can encourage sugar cravings due to their sweet taste.  Dark chocolate is another popular sweet food that gets positive coverage when it comes to overall health benefits. It’s true, dark chocolate that is 70% cocoa does have anti-inflammatory properties. Can you stop at one piece though? If not, you need to figure out why.

Some reasons we search for “healthy” sweeteners, or any sweetener for that matter, is because we are dealing with nutrient deficiencies or a brain chemistry imbalance. If you suspect that you are suffering from one of these issues, I have included a few resources to help you navigate your sugar addiction. It’s always best to get to the root of the problem for lasting health.

Resources
Sanfilippo, Diane. The 21-Day Sugar Detox Bust Sugar & Carb Cravings Naturally. N.p.: Tuttle Pub, 2013.

Scott, Trudy.  The Anti-anxiety Food Solution: How the Foods You Eat Can Help Calm Your Anxiuos Mind, Improve Your Mood, and End Cravings.  Oakland, CA: New Harbinger Publications, 2011.

Heller, Ricki. Living Candida-free: 100 Recipes and a 3-stage Program to Restore Your Health and Vitality. Toronto: Collins, 2015.

Liz Hamilton-Burdge

About Liz Hamilton-Burdge

Elizabeth Hamilton-Burdge is a trained Functional Nutritionist, Pilates Instructor, and Personal Chef. You can find her playing in the kitchen or on her mat with her 2 daughters. She currently has a virtual practice that integrates her training as a Nutritionist, Pilates Instructor, and Personal Chef called “Nutritional Radiance”.