Steps to Slaying the Sugar Dragon

Below are steps that I’ve taken to remove refined sugar from my daily diet. Even though I've not been a sugar fan, I did enjoy good quality chocolate. It took having migraine headaches that lasted an average 3 to 4 days before I began to pay close attention to what I ate prior to the migraine starting.

There are four steps for ending a sugar addiction for the long haul. It is important to remember that how long each step takes is completely up to you. This is not a competition. If you have a setback, it isn't the end of the world. The point is to continue to make progress - one step at a time. Progress not perfection as they say!

Step 1: Change from having Refined Sugar with Natural Sweeteners

Take stock and get rid of all the white sugar and high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) in your home wherever it may lurk and replace it with natural, whole forms of sugar like:

- honey

- maple syrup

- coconut sugar

- sucanat (whole cane sugar)

Do not use agave as it is highly processed. Don't forget condiments...they are a big source of HFCS. Replace them with health food store condiments as they don't have refined sugar as the main ingredient. Remember to read labels and if you notice that sugar or corn syrup is the first ingredient then look for another that doesn't have it.

Most soda products don't list their ingredients but most likely that they contain HFCS. If you can't get rid of soda entirely, then choose to buy health food store brands as they use unrefined cane-sugar. They taste terrific and the same satisfaction is gained.

This leads to the misnomer of replacing refined sugars with artificial sweeteners. Whatever you do, DON'T fall for this myth. Studies have shown that those who consume artificial sweeteners have more sweet cravings than those who just eat the sugar in its natural form. Crazy but true.

If you need to indulge in a candy bar than again choose those from the natural health food store as they use whole cane sugar as a sweetener instead of refined sugar. If you need to add a sweetener to your coffee or tea choose sucanat or coconut sugar.

Remember refined sugar is hidden everywhere in processed foods. Do your best to purchase whole foods, those items that are only found on the outside circumference of grocery stores.

The goal for this first step is not to reduce sugar consumption but rather to replace it with a more nutritious, unprocessed, whole form of sugar.

Once you know you've accomplished this significant first step give yourself a pat on the back. It isn't easy but so worth it! Proceed to step 2...

Step 2: Add more Whole, Unprocessed Fats to your Diet

The sugar cravings many of us experience are due to the lack of enough healthy, whole fats in our diet. When a sugar craving comes on and we indulge in a handy sweet item, it doesn't take long before our blood sugar levels dip. It is then that we need to have some form of nourishing fats like natural yogurt or milk.

By adding more traditional whole yogurt, kefir, butter and increasing my dosage of probiotics, I experienced less cravings relatively quickly. This switch confirmed that good fat is my friend and it helped me in a big way to slaying the sugar dragon!

Step 3: Examine your Pantry and Remove all Processed, Whole Sugars from Your Home

By the time you reach this step you should be enjoying natural sweeteners, traditional whole fats and having less sugar cravings. This step is a big one: rid your pantry of processed sugar foods even if they are made with organic, whole natural sweeteners. Yup...that's right. Take charge and avoid buying the natural sodas, organic cookies, pop tarts, organic chocolate and any other expensive organic junk food.

So if you want chewy chocolate chip cookies then make them. Pull out the recipe book, put together whole natural sugars and ingredients and savour a couple soon after they come out of the oven. No feeling guilty!

What this step does is introduce the inconvenience factor. If you can't just grab your favorite packaged sweet from the cupboard but have to make it yourself, you will most likely skip it all together. Correct?

By eating whole, unprocessed fats your cravings will become less overwhelming and your blood sugar will be stable the majority of the time. You can do it!

Step 4: No more than 3 TBL (36 grams) of Natural Sugars per Day

At this point in your battle with the sugar dragon you are 90% of the way of getting rid of it for good. Well done and bravo!

For adults we need to not exceed 36 grams of natural sugars. For children it is half that (18 grams). The sugar found in dried fruit or fresh fruit counts towards this daily total.

This final step is where I'm at after consciously being aware of the types of sugars I consumed and by adding more natural whole fats to my diet. I rarely, if at all, crave sugar. I also don't remember the last time I had a migraine. Thank goodness! It took me several months to get to this point but so worth it.

Once you reach this point you will have days where you won't consume any sugar. It isn't even thought of. However, having no sweets ever is not a realistic goal. Enjoy indulging at times and don't worry.

Do you want to know exactly how much sugar is in the food you eat every day? Track your nutrition with Runtastic Balance and find out.

Well done for choosing to take care of yourself!

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