When it comes to fitness and wellness, there is no such thing as an “overnight success.” As you ween yourself off of your less-than-healthy eating habits, you may find that you still have what I like to call “supersize me” cravings—you’ll still want the burger and fries combo with a shake on the side, and, occasionally, you’ll ditch the personal pizza and just opt for the medium (or large) instead. Sometimes, these cravings will be unusually intense and your sugar cravings will spike. For the most part, however, you’ll groom yourself to become comfortable with—or tolerable of— the word “no.” But, if your sweet tooth gets the best of you and begins to impact your health, or you start to develop acne or other skin conditions that were not there previously, then you may need to take additional steps to curve your sugar habit. Lucky for you, nutritionist Cherie Calbom has some tips to help you detox and cut back on satisfying your sweet tooth:
1. Pick the right day to start.
Let’s be real: A birthday or celebration dinner is not the best time to commit to a new diet. You’ll eventually develop the willpower to navigate through special events, but it’s not a good idea to start with an unusual challenge.
2. Go cold turkey.
Studies show sugar is as addictive as cocaine and heroin, so it’s not something you can ease into or pursue in half measures. If you eat a little less to gradually eliminate it from your diet, you’ll keep getting triggered into wanting more sweets. You have to completely let it go.
3. Scrutinize every label.
We are naturally inclined to crave sugar, which is why manufacturers try to smuggle it into their products. The only way to root out sugar in all its forms – soups, condiments, breads, etc. – is to read grocery labels carefully. The sooner sugar is mentioned, the more that’s in there.
4. Make emergency snack packs.
Whether shopping, traveling or at work, you don’t want to be caught hungry without a healthy option. Plummeting blood-sugar levels will make it that much harder to resist sugar-laden treats. Nuts and seeds, veggie sticks, turkey jerky and apples are among the healthy options.
5. Take time to de-stress.
Stress causes spikes in cortisol, a hormone that makes you irrationally hungry, leaving you susceptible to sugar-laden snacks. When stressed, take a long, deep breath in for five seconds, hold, and then let it out to a count of five. Deep breathing is said to activate your vagus nerve, which properly regulates metabolism.
Even if you aren’t a “sugar fiend” by definition, it is likely that your diet chock-full of products that are packed with sugar without your knowledge (think: orange juice, “natural” fruit chews, and countless other packaged foods you eat on the go.) If diet and breakouts aren’t enough to convince you to slow your sugar intake, then maybe these recent finds will: recently, the British Journal of Sports Medicine referenced a study that found that too much sugar may lead to or trigger “brain disease, liver disease and breast cancer.” Calbom asserts that, “the toxicity of excessive sugar consumption is well-documented, yet it’s so prevalent in our packaged foods that we may be digesting it without knowing it.”
Going forward, pay closer attention to the nutrion label on your food. Some of the “healthy” snack bars you’re giving to your kids, or those 100 calorie treats you’re eating to prevent weight gain, are loaded with sugar—or sodium—and may actually be working against you health wise. Remember, a low caloric count is not always an indication that a product is healthy.
For more tips on nutrition and taming your food habits, visit Cherie Calbom’s website, check out her book, The Juice Lady’s Sugar Knockout and take her Sugar Addiction Quiz, here.