So I made a commitment to myself to go “sugar free”. I’ve tried before but radically underestimated how deep my food addiction was and failed in the early stages. This time I’m employing the very best science has to offer looking to the evidence for high quality research on weight loss.
Weight loss is a complex equation that has many variables; scientific research tells us it is not as simple as calories in and calories out.
I’ve learnt unearthing personal triggers for overeating is vital. On my journey to wellness I’ve had to be searingly honest with myself and recognise healthy but simple sugars are the “gateway drug” of my addiction.
I start with a couple of dried dates, add a banana, then it’s an raw cacao power ball – not so bad hunh? An hour later I’m obsessively thinking about raiding the kitchen when I get home from work to bake a cake, gluten-free, coconut/almond flour combination. Sound healthy to you? Well according to the blogosphere avoiding highly processed sugars via these foods should be encouraged – no donuts were murdered in the pursuit of my health 😉
If you don’t have a weight problem or health issues maybe my approach of eliminating simple sugars to reduce cravings and overeating isn’t for you. In health, one-size definitely does not fit-all!
Simple sugars are not everyone’s problem food. I’ve met many people who can’t eat just one piece of cheese, snack on few crisps or drink one glass of red wine yet are able to pass on the after dinner chocolate. What are the options to eliminate the food that weakens willpower and derails good intentions?
- Weaning the substance down gradually, replacing with another that tastes the same but with less undesirable effects or cold turkey.
I’ve tried all three and the most effective for me is cold turkey. It’s like pulling out my sweet tooth!
- I think psychological support is key to the success of any change in behaviour especially one as emotionally charged as food. Cognitive behavioural therapy to disassociate unpleasant emotions with food, counselling to unravel if food is being used to mask an emotional need and/or mindfulness training to stay aware of eating only for reasons that support health.
I’ve tried all three of these forms and find mindfulness the most powerful for me with food cravings and will be a strong support in my journey forward in conjunction with addressing physical causes of the craving for the white powder.
The Fine Print
If you are deciding to stop cold turkey please know there may be unpleasant physical side effects. If you are using food to prop up your mood removing your emotional crutch can be traumatic.
It is possible however to minimise the physical symptoms of withdrawal and to support a strong and stable mood with evidence based natural solutions. So if you find cold turkey an attractive solution please make sure that you consult a natural therapist trained in food cravings and brain chemistry before you break up with your trigger.
Crush the cravings protocol
1. One month before I stopped eating simple sugars I balanced my brain chemistry by working on my feel good nutrients, neurotransmitters, so my transition was emotionally smooth removing the need for an emotional crutch.
2. Eliminate physical withdrawal symptoms:
- Magnesium to eliminate headaches and muscle aches
- Gentian to prevent nausea and Gymnema my own personal miracle herb that makes chocolate (&rich, sweet foods) taste unpleasant so if someone does hold me down and force chocolate into my mouth I can stop at just one 😉
- Day herbal tea blend with therapeutically active Withania and Rhodiola to boost my energy levels, ability to think clearly and help me cope with stressful situations.
- Afternoon herbal tea blend to soothe anxiety that comes from eliminating the afternoon high sugar snack with Passionflower and Lavender. Plus the action of drinking herbal teas throughout the day and night satisfies the oral fixation/urge which is soothing.
3. High sugar levels are not healthy but very low sugar levels are dangerous! In this vital first stage of withdrawal I’m making sure my diet is loaded with complex sugars that break down slowly and are rich in fibre like vegetables and legumes.
4. Support my body as it moves from sugar burning to fat burning. It’s important to understand the health of your organs and how they are silently controlling your weight loss. There are many underlying physical reasons why your body may not be allowing fat to be used for energy so it is vital to investigate the possible causes if you are not losing weight effectively.
Personally I have a thyroid disorder which if poorly treated means my body does not enjoy burning fat for fuel it would much prefer to scream loudly for sugar. Firstly I focussed on balancing my thyroid and then I added specific nutrients to encourage my body to use fat stores for energy including: Chromium, Zinc, B1 and B3 and amino acids including tyrosine.
My protocol ends up:
- B group supplement and 1 liquid herb mix taken after meals
- Magnesium powder with chromium, zinc and amino acids mixed taken 10am and 3pm
- Herbal teas drunk throughout the day
- Once a week I’m checking in on my brain chemistry health via a validated questionnaire to make sure I’m not ignoring the early warning signs of unstable mood linked to faulty brain chemistry.
So far so good. I’ve successfully navigated days at home studying, days at work and dinners with friends who eat whatever they feel like with only a few mild bouts of cravings that were very easy to ignore.
- Investigate high quality scientific research for proven weight loss measures.
- Keep working on eliminating simple sugars.
As I have been investigating my own health and excess weight I have met and chatted to many women who are interested in delving into the physiology and science of weight loss. In conjunction with one of the coolest chicks I know we have decided to create a support group just for women.
If you are interested in evidence based weight loss we are starting up a group in Newcastle for women only who want the support of a weekly get together to talk / share / listen / comment / observe on adopting science based strategies in their busy lives.
If this interests you or someone you please send them to Facebook/EvidenceBasedFatLoss or follow the link here.