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5 Steps to Sugar Free

According to the Statistic Brain Research Institute “lose weight” and “staying fit and healthy” are both ranked in the top five resolutions for the New Year. No doubt kicking the sugar habit plays a part in both of the resolutions. The glut of holiday food behind us, many of us are ready to take charge of our health and dump the sugar habit.  And for some of us, that is easier resolved than accomplished. Need inspiration on why to quit sugar?  Check this out.  Ready to get started? Read on….

1. Out with the old and in with the new. To put it simply throw out, or give away, your household supply of junk food.  Say goodbye to cookies, ice cream, juice, soda and chocolate. Hardcore? Check and chuck sugar-laden dressings, condiments, alcohol and baked goods, like bread.  Remember, if its within easy reach, you will probably eat it.  I had a patient once who ate all the ice cream in her freezer, night after night, while sleep walking. She solved her problem with a padlock on the freezer.

Replace your baddies with true goodies.  Frozen bananas and berries for smoothies.  Carrots, cucumbers, celery, apples and raw nuts for easy munching. Whole food ingredients for salad dressings, breads, and soups.

2. Define your parameters. What does “sugar” mean to you? Do a little research and decide where you draw the line. For example, you might decide to avoid anything with cane sugar, high fructose corn syrup and artificial sweeteners, while allowing honey and maple syrup. For a hardcore cleanse, you might choose to avoid everything in the previous sentence, in addition to fruit and grains, like wheat.  Define your timeframe as well.  Is this a 30 day cleanse? Or a more permanent lifestyle change.  Set yourself up for success.  Even a short cleanse can give your health a boost. What works for you?

3. Know your cravings.  Take an honest look at your eating habits.  Do you tend to look for something sweet mid afternoon? Or do you get the munchies right before bed. Get creative and plan in advance for when the craving hits.  For example, if you are a late night ice cream eater, try this frozen treat as a substitute: blend 1 frozen banana with a handful of frozen blueberries, dash of cardamom and vanilla extract (optional) and just enough coconut milk or plain yogurt to make “soft serve.” Switch up the frozen fruits, or add unsweetened cocoa powder for variety.  Hardcore? Add a handful of salad mix, a scoop of “inulin” or a dash of turmeric to create an even healthier snack.

4. Eat more fat. Yes, you heard that right.  A recent study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine confirmed previous findings that there is no benefit to USDA guidelines limiting intake of saturated fats.  Studies point to the real culprit in terms of inflammatory diseases and other health issues: a high consumption of carbohydrates.  Yeah, that means sugar. 

Does this mean grab a pile of french fries at your local greasy spoon? Of course not! Remember to follow the list of good fats and bad fats outlined by Dr Mercola. The key is, don’t throw the good fats out with the bad fats.  Not only do good fats help us feel more satisfied after meals, they provide important building blocks for hormones, cell walls and can be an important fuel for the brain. Coconut oil, real farm eggs, avocados, wild caught salmon, soaked raw nuts and seeds are some of my favorite sources of healthy fats.

5. Choose your cheats wisely.  If you do not have a life threatening health condition (and maybe even if you do) cheating on special occasions may actually boost your health.  Be realistic and consider the circumstances. For example, is it likely you are going to pass on all sugar at your Thanksgiving meal?  If you are invited to eat at a friend’s house, will you quiz the cook to determine the ingredients? Some people do, but most people feel this is bad manners.  Why not save your cheats for special occasions, like these.  Food prepared with care, and shared joyfully with friends, may be more nourishing to body and soul than the strictest diet eaten alone.  The atmosphere of the dinner, the mood of the people at the dinner, the intention of the chef may have as much to do with health as the amount of sucrose the dessert is laced with.

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