Most of us have spent our whole lives eating sugary foods. From the time we’re very young, they are served on holidays and special occasions to help celebrate the moment, or for dessert as a reward for finishing our meal. Sometimes we even turned to them to help us feel better when we were feeling down. We’ve come to associate sweet treats with happiness, comfort and love.
But after a while, we often find that our “old friend” isn’t holding up its end of the bargain. Instead of feeling better, we start feeling worse when we consume sugar. We see the effect it’s having on our weight and our health, and we know it’s bad for us, but we just can’t stop. We find ourselves trapped in a crazy cycle of physical and emotional ups and downs. I refer to this as the “sugar blues”.
Sugar IS Addicting!
Besides being emotionally addicting, there is also a very real physical component involved. Sugar is literally more addictive than cocaine. The changes it causes in the human brain are identical to those made by drugs and alcohol. An excessive amount of sugar is very damaging to our liver and kidneys, and causes a whole host of health problems.
What Happens When We Eat Sugar
When we consume sugar, it activates dopamine, a neurotransmitter that is responsible for creating sensations of pleasure and reward. Dopamine causes us to experience a kind of “high”. When we indulge too frequently, however, our body starts to develop resistance (tolerance), and the amount of perceived pleasure that’s derived from consuming sugar becomes less and less. So, as with drugs or alcohol, we start to crave more and more of it in an attempt to recreate the good feelings it once gave us.
The Inevitable Crash and Burn
Our body will always burn glucose (sugar) for fuel before it uses fat. When our blood sugar level starts to drop, we experience sugar cravings (or carb cravings in general). Our body has “forgotten” how to burn fat for fuel. This is the all-too-familiar sugar crash, which leaves us feeling fatigued, weak and hungry. So we eat again, usually in the form of high-carbohydrate processed foods. And so the cycle continues, taking our blood sugar (and our energy level) on a roller coaster ride of ups and downs.
Stop The Ride – I Want Off!
Thankfully, the keto lifestyle is the perfect way to break this cycle of addiction once and for all! There is a transition period into retraining your body to burn fat instead of sugar, but once you’ve regained that ability your cravings for junk foods and sweets will disappear!
So here are some things you can do to beat the “sugar blues”.
Ditch the Carbs and Sugar
The first thing you’ll need to do is cut out all the sugars and non-vegetable carbohydrates from your diet. Yep, that’s right – soda and fruit juices (including “diet” drinks that contain artificial sweeteners), candy and other sweets, crackers, chips, pasta, rice, bread, potatoes, processed foods and even most fruits – it all has to go. As much as possible, get it out of your house so you won’t be tempted. If there are others in your home who still want these foods around, at least try to put them away in one place (preferably not near your keto-friendly foods) so they won’t be constantly in your face.
Check That Label
Sugar comes in many different forms and under many different names. Anything with “malt”, “sugar” or “syrup” in the name should be avoided. Some other names for sugar are things like high fructose corn syrup, dextrose, fructose, lactose, honey, agave nectar, maltose, molasses, sorghum, maltodextrin, sorbitol, cane juice, sucrose, glucose, dextran, mannitol, treacle, diastase, muscovado, panocha, galactose, maltotroise, malt and starch. If you see any of these on the list of ingredients, drop it and run!
Implement Intermittent Fasting
Intermittent fasting – the practice of going for a period of time without eating – is one of the fastest and most effective ways to rid yourself of sugar cravings and propel your body into fat-burning mode.
Many of us -especially while we’re still riding the sugar coaster – are in the habit of eating frequently throughout the day. This never allows our stores of glucose to be depleted. By eliminating snacks and leaving a good amount of time between meals, glucose will be diminished and your body will start turning to your fat stores for fuel instead. When this happens, the liver starts producing ketones. Ketones are the preferred fuel for our body, especially our brain. It also allows our body’s natural recycling process (called autophagy) to kick in.
You can read more about the details of how to implement intermittent fasting here.
Eat More Vegetables and Healthy Fats
Include more healthy fats such as grass fed butter, lard, coconut oil, olive oil, avocado, olives, nuts and fatty cuts of meat and fish in your diet. Fat helps keep you feeling full a lot longer than carbs ever will and it keeps your glucose level low. Vegetables contain so many valuable nutrients and they also help keep us full longer. When you consume nutritious foods rather than junk, you’ll feel less hungry because you’re giving your body the vitamins and minerals it needs for optimal health and healing. Adding fermented foods to your diet will also help you move beyond sugar and carb addiction.
A Light At The End of the Tunnel
Though you may not believe it now, getting past a sugar addiction is possible. By adopting a healthy ketogenic lifestyle you will not only improve your current state of health by leaps and bounds but you will also be preventing the onset of a long list of sugar-related diseases. And if that’s not a worthwhile goal then I don’t know what is!
Keto on, friends, and make it a great journey!