This morning I sat down at my desk with a mug of hot chocolate and a giant gummy tarantula left over from Halloween. I settled in and opened my weekly Goop email from Gwyneth Paltrow, which was all about breaking the addiction to sugar. Awesome, hopefully no one else could see what I was eating for breakfast.
In my own life, I've learned to fight against the constant battle of sugars making their way into my body. Once I was educated enough to know what forms sugar took in the products I was consuming I made a concerted effort to cut back and at one point, went 100% cold turkey.
Like any addict will tell you, it was the worst four weeks of my life. I was grumpy, irritable, tired, shaky and all I could think of was a big bowl of fresh pasta or brownies, delicious brownies. After I was able to finally break free from the cravings and withdrawal, I was really able to take a step back and see how it had impacted my life. I didn't especially overload on any of the different forms of sugar, but like a smoker, I had to have my fix every few hours, even if it was just a small amount and I didn't see it.
"In the past generation we’ve seen the amount of sugar we consume grow exponentially. Until recently, we had been eating sugar mainly found naturally in foods. It was used as a treat or in small quantities and was never a problem. But today, over a third of the calories we consume come from sugar or white flour, which is highly refined and acts just like sugar in our system. Our bodies cannot cope with such an enormous load. Sugar gives you an initial high, then you crash, then you crave more, so you consume more sugar. It’s this series of highs and lows that provoke unnecessary stress on your adrenals. You get anxious, moody (sugar is a mood-altering drug) and eventually you feel exhausted."
Gwyneth is bringing this problem to the limelight like many other chefs and nutritionists have been trying to do for years. In this morning's email, she shares some words from Doctor Frank Lipman who shares 19 ways to help break the sugar habit. You can check out the full list over at Goop, along with a great story about cocaine addicted rats who chose to drink sugar water over cocaine laced water, that's how powerful it is! Here's a few favorites from the Lipman's list:
• Eat Regularly: Eat three meals and two snacks or five small meals a day. For many people, if they don’t eat regularly, their blood sugar levels drop, they feel hungry and are more likely to crave sweet sugary snacks.
• Protein + Fat at Every Meal: This helps control blood sugar levels. Make sure they are healthy sources of each.
• Choose Whole Foods: The closer a food is to its original form, the less processed sugar it will contain. Food in its natural form, including fruits and vegetables, usually presents no metabolic problems for a normal body, especially when consumed in variety.
• Supplements: Take a good quality multivitamin and mineral supplement, Vitamin D3 and omega 3 fatty acids. Nutrient deficiencies can make cravings worse and the fewer nutrient deficiencies, the fewer cravings. Certain nutrients seem to improve blood sugar control including chromium, Vitamin B3 and magnesium.
• Sugar In Disguise: Remember that most of the “complex” carbohydrates we consume like bread, bagels and pasta aren’t really complex at all. They are usually highly refined and act just like sugars in the body and are to be avoided.
Hit up the Goop newsletter for all the tips, including a few ways to kill an instant craving so you don't cave to what your body tries to tell you! It's a slippery slope that many of us are on, especially if sweets or treats were given as a reward or prize while growing up. The addiction starts early on and it's not easy to see until you try to give it all up and work it back into your eating habits healthfully.
Related: How Does a Food-Lover Maintain a Healthy Weight?
(Image: Flickr member Terwilliger911 licensed for use by Creative Commons, LA Times, lovetheday)