By Jessica Ehrlich
What is the best advice you will ever receive about health and wellness?
STOP. EATING. SUGAR.
Now, the idea of eliminating sugar may send you into fetal position, any time of year, but especially as the fall holidays approach. That is because sugar has been proven to be more addictive than cocaine. Like a drug, it causes your brain to release dopamine, and your insulin surges, making you feel like a rockstar. But this temporary high is followed by the well-known sugar crash. And guess what you want post crash? More sugar!!!
This vicious but common cycle wreaks havoc on your body. Over time, it can lead to increased risk of disease, sickness, obesity, nutrient imbalances/deficiencies, behavioral changes, and an overall feeling of crap.
The solution? Cut the sugar out and start fueling your body with whole, unprocessed foods that will truly catapult your body rockstar status.
Easier said than done, right?. So, how does one go about making such a huge change?
STEP 1. KNOW THY ENEMY
As with any method of problem-solving, you must first identify the issue. The problem isn’t with the obvious culprits, like soda and candy. You have to learn the many disguises of sugar and become aware of your actual added sugar intake. For instance, did you know that manufacturers add sugar to your ketchup, breads, salad dressings, spaghetti sauces, and all those “healthy” energy bars?
The following is a list of sugar aliases:
Barley malt syrup
|Cane juice crystals|
Coconut palm sugar
|Corn syrup solids|
Dehydrated cane juice
Evaporated cane juice
Free-flowing brown sugars
Fruit juice concentrate
HFCS (High-Fructose Corn
Organic raw sugar
Ribose Rice Syrup
Reads like movie credits, doesn’t it? Fact: Added sugar is hiding in 74% of packaged foods.1 These are all the ingredients working behind the scenes that you may not think about when considering your sugar intake. Start looking for them and tracking what you’re really eating.
STEP 2. CLEAN HOUSE
Now that you’re able to identify added sugars, it’s time to get rid of them. Go through your kitchen. If a serving is over 6 grams of sugar, or if one of the listed sugar aliases is included in the first three (3) ingredients, throw that food item away or donate it — you don’t want or need it anymore. It’s recommended that we shouldn’t exceed more than 21 grams of sugar per day. That is not much! Count your sugar grams up for the day and see how many you are getting. I bet you’ll be extremely surprised at what you discover.
STEP 3: PLAN MEALS
If you fail to plan, you plan to fail. With sugar and instant gratification being so addictive, trying to eliminate sugar without a meal plan is setting yourself up for failure. That’s why I like to cook batches of healthy meals about twice a week and have a set breakfast/lunch so I do not run out the door hungry, risking the temptation of those convenient, sugary options I come across once I get to where I’m going. This includes the cupcakes that my co-worker, Pete, decided to bring in, leftover from his daughter’s birthday party. Thanks, Pete!
I have a lot of personal recommendations for meals and snacks, but part of this process is figuring out healthy options that you actually enjoy and discovering taste buds not yet explored. To get you started, read my daily food diary for inspiration @jessicaleighe on Instagram.
STEP 4: GO SHOPPING!
On your next grocery store trip, hunt down whole, real foods (usually around the perimeter of the store). You want the least amount of processing and packaging. If an item is packaged, scour those ingredients. Remember: The devil is in the details.
Make it a fun weekend outing by checking out your local farmer’s market and buying real food that’s in season!
STEP 5: DETOX
Going sugar-free, you will probably experience one or all of the following: moodiness, snapping at loved ones, depression, falling asleep on the couch, and/or a few other non-pleasant symptoms. Everyone experiences sugar detox differently — you may have it easier or harder than others. But after 7-12 days, you will notice a difference. You will enjoy more energy, restful sleep, more joy, less brain fog, better skin, restored relationships with loved ones, and a better functioning body that is ready to kick ass.
Tip: While detoxing, take a Vitamin B supplement and 1000mg of chromium picolinate per day.
- A French researcher who was studying sugar addiction in rodents, found that if a rodent was addicted to cocaine or heroin and later offered it sugar, it would switch to the sugar within a day. What?
- Sugar makes you fat, not fat.
- Sugar ages you.
- Sugar rots your teeth and causes bad breath. Nasty.
- Sugar contains NO essential nutrients (that’s why it’s called empty calories).
- Excess amounts of sugar get turned into fat in the liver, leading to fatty liver disease — even non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD).
- Sugar can cause insulin resistance – leading to metabolic Syndrome – leading to Diabetes
- Sugar is the leading cause of obesity in kids and adults
- Sugar raises your cholesterol and gives you heart disease, not saturated fats. ●
- Sugar feeds cancer – YIKES!
You’ll be surprised at how amazing vegetables and whole foods will begin to taste once you get sugar out of your system. Just follow the steps. It’s worth it! YOU’RE worth it! You only get one body – treat it like the temple it is.
Ng, S.W., Slining, M.M., & Popkin, B.M. (2012). Use of caloric and noncaloric sweeteners in
US consumer packaged foods, 2005-2009. Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics , 112 (11), 1828-1834.e1821-1826.
Jessica Leigh Ehrlich is a personal trainer from Austin, TX. With over two decades in the industry, she has used her passion for wellness to teach hundreds of people fitness, nutrition, yoga, and pilates. You can catch her meal plans, wellness tips, and daily shenanigans on Instagram @jessicaleighe.