Sunday, May 29, 2016

The 30 Day Plan to Help You Quit Sugar for Good

Does the thought of spending just one day without sugar scare you?

Honestly, I wouldn’t blame you if it did. Even nutritionists like me struggle with sugar cravings.

Sugar’s an essential component of our diet, whether we like to admit it or not, because it’s literally hiding in everything.

Whether you’re looking to shed some extra pounds, prevent type 2 diabetes, or regulate your hormones, I know that you’ll be a whole new person without sugar in your life; a healthier, happier, slimmer version of yourself.

So if you’re finally ready to kick sugar to the curb, start following my 30 day plan to quit sugar today.

When we’re through, you’ll be equipped to say NO to sugar without feeling like you’re missing out (FOMO is real, people).  

Why Do We Crave Sweets in the First Place?

craving sweets

Unfortunately, your sugar cravings may not be entirely your fault.

We’re Biologically Wired to Crave Sugar

When our foraging ancestors were out in the wild, they needed energy sources that provided a quick boost to keep them going. And they found this energy in the fruits they came across.

By consuming fruits, our ancestors had an instant boost of energy courtesy of the fruit’s fructose. Anything that was not immediately used ended up being stored for later.

This was a huge evolutionary advantage since our ancestors never really knew when they’d have their next meal and they needed these stores to hold them over during scarce times.

So, essentially, they had energy for the present and energy for later, should they need it, because of sugar.

Now, despite the fact that we’ve come a long way since then, our bodies haven’t adapted as much as they should have.

Most of us know where our next meal is coming from, plus we usually don’t have to expend the same amount of energy hunting or gathering for this food source like our ancestors did.

So why do our bodies still act like the sugar we eat must be conserved and stored for later?

Since we don’t need this extra sugar, it gets stored as unwanted fat deposits in hard to tone areas of the body. Talk about frustrating!

And that’s not the only reason why our bodies can’t get enough sugar.

Sugar Gives Us a Feel-Good Rush

feel good rush

Sugar makes us feel good; it releases the same chemicals in our brains that drugs do and literally makes us addicted.

So when we try to cut back in order to get healthy, we’re more likely to find ourselves craving even more of the sweet stuff.

Sugar Withdrawals are Not Easy

withdrawal from sugar

Depending on how much sugar you eat and how long you’ve been consuming it, you could also experience nasty sugar withdrawals anytime you attempt the “cold turkey” route of just quitting out of the blue one day.

Symptoms such as headaches, anxiety, depression, increased hunger and cravings, decreased energy, insomnia, nausea, and mood swings are all common for those trying to cut out sugar.

The good news is that my 30 day plan is a much softer approach to quitting sugar—one you’ll actually stick to.

You’ll cut out sugar gradually so you shouldn’t experience symptoms that are too debilitating, if you even experience any withdrawal at all.

By taking this route, you’ll see plenty of benefits to keep you motivated enough to stay on this healthy path.

A Life Without Sugar (aka The Benefits of Quitting Sugar)

benefit of quitting sugar

Many of my clients report the following changes as soon as they quit sugar for good:

  • Improved skin
  • Weight loss
  • Better sleep
  • Increased energy
  • Fewer energy slumps
  • Happier moods
  • Stronger immunity

What to Expect with this 30 Day Plan

what to expect

Since 30 days may seem a bit overwhelming for some, I’ve broken down my plan into four easily-digestible weeks.

Each week I’ll give you three rules to stick to. As the weeks progress, you’ll keep stacking these simple rules on top of each other. By the time a new one is introduced, you will have already mastered the previous one.

And by the end of the 30 days, you’ll have formed a healthy habit and these rules will be second nature.

Another way my approach is different from others is that you won’t ever feel deprived. Deprivation diets have been proven to be ineffective and actually cause you to gain more weight!

Let’s take a look at what’s in store for you:

Week 1: First, We Add

warm water lemon

For the next seven days, I want you to include the following three items in your routine every day.

1. Start each day with a warm (read: not scolding hot) glass of water with a fresh squeeze of lemon and a pinch of cayenne.

This healthy combination will jumpstart your digestion, metabolism, and energy.

2. Eat a low-carb breakfast that’s high in fat and protein.

If you normally skip breakfast, you’ll need to change that. Similarly, bagel, cereal, and oatmeal lovers will have to pass on all those carb choices too.

See, carbs are more likely to give you sugar cravings. As we work through this program, we’re going to be cutting down your carb intake as well.

Reach for a breakfast that’s packed with healthy fats and lean, low-salt protein such as: eggs, avocado, chicken, and turkey.

3. Up your healthy fat intake by adding more raw nuts, olive oil, full fat cheese (preferably goat, cottage, swiss, or parmesan), and avocados to your diet.

Be careful not to go overboard here. Ideally, you’ll choose one or two full fat items from that short list to add to your diet each day.

The goal for week one is to start your day off right with the lemon water and a high-protein, low-carb breakfast. You’ll also naturally be combating cravings thanks to the addition of healthy fats, which give you energy and keep you full.

Week 2: Start Scaling Back

scaling back

When week one’s over, you should begin to see a noticeable difference in your energy levels, moods, sleep, and maybe even waistline! It’s this progress that’s going to motivate you to push past tougher week two.

We’ll begin by gradually scaling back on your sugar intake. Now, this won’t be easy since sugar is practically hiding in everything (even healthy foods!).

Here’s what your three tasks are for week two:

1. Toss out any foods in your home that have more than 5 g of sugar per serving.

This could be anything from salad dressings and yogurts to those seemingly healthy granola bars.

2. Watch your sauces and condiments.

This is one big area many of my patients don’t realize is a complete sugar trap. Go ahead, check the labels on your ketchup, BBQ sauce, and honey mustard if you don’t believe me.

Instead of reaching for these, I want you to choose spicy mustard or hot sauce for foods like sandwiches or chicken and use lemon and olive oil to replace salad dressing.

This same principle goes for coffee creamer even though that’s technically not a sauce. Most coffee creamers are packed with sugar and artificial sweeteners that are just as toxic for your health.

3. Choose fruits that have the lowest amount of sugar and ditch the higher ones.

Keep in mind that once our 30 days is over, you’ll be allowed to have the high-sugar fruits in small doses. I still want you to eat a diet rich in a variety of fruits in order to optimize your nutrient intake.

With that said, stick to low-sugar fruit such as:

  • Berries (strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries)
  • Grapefruit
  • Avocado
  • Apples
  • Peaches

And avoid high-sugar fruit such as:

  • Figs
  • Mangos
  • Cherries
  • Grapes
  • Bananas
  • Pomegranates

Week 3: Elimination Round

cut back carbs

By now you should be feeling on top of the world.

You’ve got plenty of sustainable energy from the lemon water, low-carb breakfasts, and increased fat intake. Plus, week two helped you slowly wean off of the sweet stuff with its tough restrictions.

Now that you’re here in week three, it’s time to cut out sugar entirely.

Here’s this week’s three tasks:

1. Cut back on your carb intake and completely eliminate carbs from dinner.

The late night carbs found in dinner are often what cause us to crave dessert afterwards; by eliminating them, you won’t have those post-meal sugar cravings.

Stick to a protein and a low-starch veggie for dinner. You can even enjoy a large salad before dinner if that helps you feel fuller.

Next, I want you to tackle your drinks.

2. Say goodbye to any and all sweetened drinks.

This means if you must have coffee, have it black. Ditch the sweet soft drinks and high sugar fruit drinks altogether.

I also want you to say no to all forms of alcohol since that’s just a sugar bomb in disguise.

If you need something more exciting than water to drink, add lemon or fresh fruit to your water, or find deliciously healthy herbal and non-caffeinated teas.

3. Cut out all forms of sweeteners.  

This step includes natural sweeteners such as honey and agave, plus artificial ones like aspartame and sucralose.

These sweeteners have a tendency to jack up your tastebuds so much that you’re left craving something even sweeter, but you’ll never actually have that craving satisfied.

Week 4: Keep Your Momentum Going

keep it going

Weeks two and three are probably the most challenging for my clients and it’s easy to see why. Eliminating some of your favorite foods is never an easy thing to do.

So the focus of week four is to simply keep this positive momentum going.

To do this, here are three healthy habits I want you to adopt:

1. Shop smarter at the grocery store.

This means avoiding the packaged (and processed) foods found in the center aisles and forcing yourself to only shop the perimeter of the store to find your fresh produce, meat, and dairy.

Stay away from products touted as “low-fat” or “fat free” as the fat is typically just replaced with sugar, chemicals, and artificial sweeteners— a total recipe for sugar cravings. Avoid these temptations at all costs.

However, since we’re doing so much eliminating and avoiding, I don’t want you to feel deprived. I want you to reward yourself in a positive way.

But instead of rewarding yourself with a food-related item, such as a piece of chocolate or two glasses of wine after work, I want you to change your thinking.

2. Come up with 3 non-food related rewards.

These rewards can be as simple as taking a relaxing bath with a good book or going for a walk with your family to the movies. These types of rewards will make you feel better instead of making you crave sugar like rewarding yourself with chocolate or wine would do.

I also like to indulge in teas that are just slightly above what you’d find at the grocery store. They won’t add calories, they’re packed with flavor, and they’re a bit of a special luxury that makes me feel like I’m treating my body and my psyche.

The point is, find something that doesn’t involve food, yet still gives you the feeling of indulging. You could also opt for a massage or a mani-pedi to achieve the same result.

3. If you must indulge in something sweet, make it yourself.

Cooking and baking at home allows you to control the amount of unhealthy ingredients in your treat and also gives you the chance to cut back accordingly.

Find recipes that contain less than 5 g of sugar per serving. Recipes for individual servings are even better so the portion control is done for you.

If you make a whole batch of low-sugar cookies and end up eating the entire tray, you’ll be in the same boat as having one high-sugar one. Not smart.

So if you’re going to indulge, I want you to be smart about it.

Now that you have my 30 day plan for four successful weeks of sugar elimination, I want you to consider starting week one as soon as possible.

This means you may need to head to the grocery store to get everything you need, but trust me, the trip will be so worth it when you stock your home with a haul of fresh, healthy, sugar-free foods.

Keep my three tips in mind each week and you’ll have no problems making it through the entire program. I know you can do this!


I’d love to hear how your 30 days goes! Be sure to leave me a comment at any point during your four weeks to let me know how you’re doing. I can’t wait to see you on the other sugar-free side!


The post The 30 Day Plan to Help You Quit Sugar for Good appeared first on Nutrition Secrets.

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