As a former chocoholic I can honestly say that giving up all forms of processed sugar was the best decision I made for my health. By taming my sugar beast, I managed to restore my insulin sensitivity, balance my hormones, cure my insomnia and strengthen my immune system. Staying away from my best ‘friend’ chocolate, ‘natural’ sugar like honey, and man-made carbohydrates, such as bread, pasta, chips, breakfast cereals, granola bars, fruit yoghurts, fruit juices, milk and cookies was the best thing I did for my health.
Cutting out sugar wasn’t easy, but it wasn’t that difficult either. What made it possible and sustainable was the large amount of vegetables and healthy fats I added to my diet as a replacement.
My knowledgeable friend Bianca who is a certified nutritionist and I are organising ‘No Sugar Up Your Healthy Fat Challenge’ which starts April 1st. During this challenge we hope to give you the necessary tools to transform your sugar beast into a nice puppy who only comes out on special occasions, aka when you want to play ;-).
This challenge isn’t some sort of ‘quick fix crash diet’ but an opportunity for you to develop healthy behavioural changes that will eventually lead to zero sweet cravings. Starting from week one you will slowly cut down on sugar and replace it with healthy fats and yummy vegetables. We will provide you with a shopping list and some simple recipes that will help you switch your palate from sweet to savoury. You will also become a more label-savvy consumer that understands the importance of avoiding products which are labelled ‘fat-free’ or ‘low-fat, for example. By cutting sugar from your diet you will naturally start making more space for nutrient-rich vegetables and healthy fats. You can find more information on healthy fats in my previous article. This dietary change could very well become the most important thing you can do for your health.
So what is sugar?
Sugar that we consume today is a mixture of mostly glucose and fructose. Sadly, with carbohydrates such as bread, pasta, rice and low-fat products we made sugar a staple of our modern diet.
So what happens to our body when we consume large amounts of sugar?
Within minutes after consuming a fruit juice, flavoured yoghurt, bread, cake or any other processed carbohydrates, your insulin levels increase which results in a pleasant sugar rash followed by a very unpleasant sugar crash. This sugar rollercoaster is caused by excess levels of glucose in your bloodstream. Carb overload, aka SUGAR overload manifests in being sleepy, tired, moody and hungry for more sugar. To avoid feeling this way a carb burner needs to snack throughout the day to sustain their chronically elevated blood insulin levels.
A typical breakfast of cereal, semi-skimmed milk, fat-free yoghurt, pastry, bread and/or fruit juice most likely leave you feeling tired and hungry within a couple of hours after consuming it. Sadly, feeling tired isn’t the only thing you should be concerned with. Namely, consuming sugar will also leave your immune system compromised for up to 24 hours. When your immune system isn’t working properly, free radicals thrive in your body causing oxidative stress which in turn harms the cardiovascular system, causes wrinkles, damages your brain cells, retina cells, and renal cells. On the top of that excessive intake of sugar throughout the day will cause your hormones to be out of whack, which means that instead of sleeping peacefully you will be tossing and turning. Not having a good night sleep will make you cranky in the morning and hungry for another injection of sugar to satisfy your sugar beast. If you are a carb burner, you have probably already experienced this vicious never ending circle.
I am not Willy Wonka so I won’t sugar coat the impacts this vicious circle has on your body. Apart from the fact that sugar depletes your body from vitamin D, calcium, magnesium, and vitamin C, it has been also linked to various chronic disease. If you don’t tame your sugar beast, you might eventually become insulin resistant and become yet another victim of modern epidemic of Type 2 diabetes. You might also age much quicker, might develop non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, your cancer risk and the risk of heart disease might increase and you might develop dementia since sugar diminishes your brain functions.
So, is sugar stopping you from having your most vibrant, healthy, long life? Yes.
Can you transform your sugar beast into a manageable pet? Yes.
Are you IN for the challenge? Say No to being a slave to your Sugar Beast and say YES to a day full of energy, beautiful skin, a flat belly, greater mental clarity and strong immune system. Take full responsibility for your own health by committing to one month with us! We will be here to support you and help you stay on track by answering any questions or concerns. Throughout the challenge we hope to develop your healthy eating habits and give you a foundation on which you can build your healthy lifestyle.
To set you off on the right path, you might want to try a rich-in-healthy-fats breakfast. Fields, the online shopping platform, have put together a Healthy Fats Starter Pack to help you on your journey to quitting sugar. If you have never ordered with Fields before simply enter the coupon code "THRIVEINSHANGHAI" to receive a RMB 50 discount off your first order.
When making your breakfast the number one rule is to avoid all types of sugar, this includes natural occurring sugar. We want you to start the day right and keep your Sugar Beast under control especially in the morning. Eggs and avocados should be your staple when it comes to breakfast. If you prefer breakfast on the go then make a green smoothie with coconut milk, greens (spinach, kale, pak choi), avocado, add couple of spoons of nut butter, and some coconut flakes for texture. A key here is to remember that vegetables provide all the benefits of fruit and more without the sugar. So, skip the fruit-only smoothies or fruit juices which might sound healthy but in fact will send you on a sugar roller coaster.
Please tell your friends and family about this challenge. Call your dad, email your sister, post it on your WeChat moments, talk about it with your colleagues and otherwise help to spread the word!
Secure your place in the challenge by scanning the QR code on the poster now!
Looking forward to seeing you all on the 30th of March.
Izabela Your Primal Health Coach