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Pour Some Sugar on Me

Guest post by Ashley Koff, R.D.

If you are a self-proclaimed sugar addict, like many of my clients, sometimes it feels like showering in sugar would be the only way to truly satisfy the cravings.

In recognition of the health benefits of reducing sugar intake (improved immune system, digestive system, healthier weight, sustainable energy, balanced moods, etc), here are some tips that can help curb the cravings:

  • Switch from food “products” to food: Nature supplies a manageable amount of sweet in its food. Try an apple instead of an apple fruit-roll up.
  • Some assembly required: Products use sugar to add shelf life as well as for taste—thus, we often find much higher levels of sugar in a product versus a food. Buy ingredients and assemble yourself to reduce sugar intake. Use plain yogurt, add your own berries, nuts, and even a little (key word) honey or stevia—you will still be lower in sugar naturally then the yogurt with the fruit mixed in.
  • Watch your salt consumption: The mind, mouth, and reward system love the 1-2 salt-sugar punch. If we have salty food, do we crave sweet soon after? Often. So skip the soy sauce at sushi and perhaps an orange as dessert will satisfy instead of needing ice cream or frozen yogurt.
  • Get sleep: When the body is tired it calls out—rather it screams—for energy (carb). What it really needs is recovery. Try going to bed when visions of ice cream overwhelm you while watching late night TV.
  • Aim for nutrient balance: Too much carb or no carb at an eating occasion can set up a blood sugar high/low that later translates to feeling like you need a sugar fix. Try pairing nutrients and keeping it to 1-2 servings of carb per eating occasion. Have an apple with almond butter instead of just an apple to get carb + protein + fat. Instead of having two slices of bread for your sandwich and a piece of fruit at your meal—try an open-faced sandwich with veggies and save the fruit (with a protein + fat) for a later eating occasion.
  • Our body is a race car: Think pit stop versus filling up the gas tank. If we have nutrient-balanced eating occasions about every three hours, our body’s energy stays in harmony. This can help fend off sugar attacks due to low energy.
  • Go for it, knowingly: Have your cake and eat it too! Just know that the effects of sugar in the system can last a few days—meaning that mental memory of how good it tasted and how good it made you feel (it really can give a high) will stick around long after its been digested. You may need to remind yourself the next day and the day after that your residual sugar cravings were earned by the delicious treat you enjoyed the night or two before.
  • Keep it natural: The artificial sweeteners are thousands of times sweeter than mother nature’s sugar. Thousands of times—that’s pretty powerful and tough to match. No wonder an apple may not seem sweet enough if your morning beverage was thousands time sweeter.

Ashley Koff is an internationally renowned registered dietitian on a mission to improve the health of people across America and beyond through raising public awareness of the value of quality eating.

Ashley will give a talk—A Case for Quality—at Zenergy on Tuesday September 19, 2013 at 1:00 p.m.