If you’ve got health issues then maybe it’s time to break your sugar habit. In my other post about ways to improve your digestion, I listed sugar as a huge disrupter of both your endocrine system and your gut. In this article, I want you to learn how to break sugar addiction naturally. Many people wonder about how long to break sugar addiction it can actually take.
I imagine if you are already here, reading this, you are on a journey to try to heal as holistically as possible from endometriosis or at least be wellness minded. That willingness, my friend, is a huge benefit in your ability to break your sugar habit. Half the battle is being open to making some changes, sometimes huge changes which require massive action, which will move you in the direction you are intending.
When you begin to make changes to something your body is prone to be addicted to and break your sugar habit, you must have a plan and be prepared for the body’s tantrum!
Why Break Your Sugar Habit? Facts about sugar:
1. A Sugar Habit Leads to Inflammation
Well, well well. Here we have our little friend inflammation again. Why does inflammation so often go hand in hand with endometriosis? Is it even possible to have a calm body? We’ll look to some of the recent research studies to help you make some decisions about if a sugar habit is causing your poor body to be inflamed.
A 2020 study found that a high fat or a high sugar diet triggered inflammation in the microbiota-gut-brain axis. Eating a diet high in sugars triggered changes in the microbial composition in distinct ways, which lead to neuroadaptations. (Remember from my post about the importance of probiotics, gut bacteria helps our brains by releasing important chemicals such as serotonin). Overeating sucrose can alter the metabolism negatively and doing so with fructose had an impact on gut barrier dysfunction and inflammation. It’s another reason why it’s so important to break your sugar habit.
So, one reason to break your sugar habit is that the use of fructose causes gut issues that those who have endometriosis seem to struggle with disproportionately. If you are looking for information about an anti-inflammatory food renowned for its gut healing properties, head over to my post about the wonders of bone broth.
2. Break Your Sugar Habit to Lessen Other Illnesses
Another recent study from just last year in 2021 showed that the sugar fructose triggers gut dysbiosis and metabolic inflammation with cardiac arrhythmogenesis. This study built upon the prior 2020 study I mentioned but also found that a sugar habit can lead to a host of cardiovascular diseases and heart beat abnormalities. It also leads to intestinal permeability which is another term used for leaky gut syndrome.
Many women with endometriosis have symptoms mirroring leaky gut syndrome as I’ve already covered in my bone broth post.
Hopefully if you have been reading all of my posts you will begin to see a direct correlation between having a sugar habit, especially a diet high in fructose (or fat, per the first study I cited), gut issues and endometriosis complications.
Furthermore, this study from 2017 found a correlation between consumption of fructose and the condition known as non-alcoholic liver disease (NAFLD), also called fatty liver disease. Fructose was a key component in the development of the disease, which led to the movement of bacteria and their related endotoxins being found circulating in the bloodstream. When you have a leaky gut, you are more likely to be at risk from stoke and renal (kidney) diseases.
This same study found that a whole host of diseases stem from NAFLD, including glucose intolerance and obesity and those effecting the immune system.
If your blood sugar is out of whack, you may feel snack-y ALLL-THE-TIME. If you are curious how to get out of this cycle, check out my post about meal spacing.
3. Break Your Sugar Habit to Balance Your Hormones
You just read about the connection between high sugar consumption via a bad sugar habit and the negative consequences on the body, including on the gut. Well, this study found that when the gut microbiota was disrupted, it led to insulin resistance and impaired glucose regulation. Insulin plays a role in the balance of sex hormones including sex hormone binding globulin, estrogen, progesterone and testosterone.
This 2017 study found that a high-fat and a high sugar level in the diet disrupts the preovulatory hormone surge and induces cystic ovaries in cycling female rate.
A huge number of women today experience hormone imbalance, and endometriosis is considered by some to be caused by excess estrogen hormone. Many women with endometriosis experience cysts on their ovaries or even polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). The related research draws some interesting conclusions for A Pain in the Endo.
4. Break Your Sugar Habit to Age Gracefully
As if the above reasons weren’t enough for you to break your sugar habit, it turns out sugar will even make you look older over time. This study from 2013 found that high serum glucose levels were associated with a higher perceived age. While changing lifestyle habits will undoubtedly improve your life, a nice side benefit would include aging gracefully.
The decision is yours but let’s assume you’re committed to start making some changes. Great! If you decide to break your sugar habit halfway , you will need less systems in place to help you transition through the change than if you decide to go full bore and completely eliminate sugar from your diet as your end goal.
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How to you break your sugar habit?
If you read the research and are totally committed, let’s dive in so you can learn how to stop sugar cravings instantly and create a plan so you won’t miss sugar too much.
1. Decide How Far to Go
When you go all in to break your sugar habit you will more than likely deal with withdrawal symptoms and possible blood sugar issues. Your body will be under more stress from making such an abrupt change. It might be more expensive at first to do a complete overhaul of your kitchen goods, too. For those reasons, I would probably recommend a gradual approach.
But the benefits of go all in and break your sugar habit for good include more home cooked meals, much more nutrient dense food in order to keep you satisfied, and the motivation of starting something new. I started feeling pretty good about 4-6 weeks in, after the initial body backlash. Yep, I had headache and intense cravings though after awhile I was too busy learning how to actually prepare meals and trying new things to care too much.
2. Create a Plan of Ways to Fight Your Sugar Habit
Chart out where you want to go. There will be things in your life meant to derail your plans. Externally, you may have office food to say no to ( though less likely these days), and friend and family event meals to navigate gracefully. Your spouse or partner or kids may not be ready to watch you break your sugar habit and feel uncomfortable. You may be used to people pleasing them as opposed to your well-being, and will need to address which is more important.
You also should be aware of your own expectations. Perhaps leave them at the beginning of your new journey and simply get curious and see what happens. If you expect to be rid of pain from endo symptoms immediately and aren’t you may find yourself questioning your initial resolve. If your goal is to loose a few pounds, you probably will, but if that is your goal once you reach it your resolve will be vulnerable.
When you break your sugar habit, you begin a whole new lifestyle.
A great place to start is to resolve to get your body into its healthiest its been in years. When you actually start to feel better, and you will, that will be a new motivation to keep feeling that new energy.
So, create a plan and write it down how you will break your sugar habit, what you are willing to change and what obstacles may be lurking in your life. What kind of life do you want? Dig as deep as you can and build your life around what you hold most dear. The more detailed your plan, the more likely you will be able to stick with things and make real and lasting change.
3. Take Inventory to Break Your Sugar Habit
When I first came across the no sugar diet, it was really a movement away from all things processed towards a whole foods based diet. I gave up all processed sugars and all sugars really, aside from fruit. The first changes I made were inventorying my kitchen. I literally gave away bags of white sugar, condiments loaded with sugars, and shoved the boxes of convenience food to the back of the shelf for an emergency. I could really tell you how to break your sugar addiction in 10 days if that’s your thing.
Then, I started learning about good fats and how to make salads without loading them with sugar-laden dressing and manufactured oils. I needed to invest in some new kitchen equipment for more home-cooking. And most importantly, I learned to make my own desserts. Healthy desserts were my lifeline between all of these changes and a past riddled with sugar addiction. 🙂
You might need to determine what you can realistically do step-by-step both for budget’s sake and time wise. Not to mention it can take some time to really start making new meals consistently and start new routes at the grocery store.
4. Break Your Sugar Habit Making Healthier Choices
In your planning, look at what you eat regularly and do a kitchen inventory. What would you miss if you no longer had it what does a backup replacement look like? This will help you fight sugar cravings.
If you eat occasional sweets and want to cut those out, make sure you have a good replacement snack in place. The sugar price of these swaps should be doable as you consume less and less sugar and use it as a treat.
For making a bigger overhaul, I’d recommend cutting back gradually. If your diet consists of a lot of processed sugars, maybe focus on changing one meal at a time, say breakfast or after dinner, and stick with that.
Other swaps could include eating substantially filling meals three times a day. I wrote a post about meal spacing and when you eat filling meals and not snack in between meals, you will automatically eliminate a lot of processed sugars.
In her book, I Quit Sugar for Life, Sarah Wilson describes how her going sugar free involved having a new wellness code for living and eating. (I don’t get a commission for sharing this but I do own her book and can relate to her mission.) Her book recommends filling up on a nutrient dense-diet predominantly of vegetables, proteins and fats which will help to curb intense sugar cravings and feeding the body what it actually needs to survive. You can buy healthier types of sugars for your new lifestyle.
5. Tips for Planning Ahead to Break Your Sugar Habit
As a part of your creating a plan to break your sugar habit, you probably already thought of some times that would be difficult to navigate. Here I’ll list out the most common ones with some ideas to get you going.
When you better understand something, it’s much easier to an informed decision in your best interest. Hopefully now you at least see the research behind why sugar ravages your body leaving you in worse condition that before. That should be motivating in itself when breaking up with your sugar habit. However, there are many other snares you may find yourself facing.
If there is one reason that giving up sugar can be so dang hard it can be this one. Sugar makes us feel good and gives us a nice spike in energy and well-being. If we are shelving difficult emotions that haven’t been processed or we are stuck in a hard situation, sugar and other comfort foods can become our lifeline. Once it becomes a habit it’s just hard to stop.
Be gentle on yourself. Sometimes we need a nudge to make better decisions and to stop a negative cycle. But sometimes we just need to let the wave of difficulty pass before we can start over again. Talk to a close friend or counselor for support if you are finding yourself in a non-stop cycle of difficulty, especially one that continues to derail ways that will actually benefit!
Navigating the office:
While a lot has changed in the last few years with regards to eating with one another and bringing in food for sharing, many places still have special treat days. My advice? If you can keep it to a treat without going back for seconds, thirds or for the whole lot of leftovers, go for it. If you are going all in and want to completely give up the stuff, just hold your ground. So many people these days have intolerances and you likely won’t be alone in foregoing. Also, many offices insurance plans promote well being credits and may offer some healthy snack options.
If the vending machine or going out to eat at lunch is a source of your sugars, then it’s time to start preparing your meals at home or making different food choices while on that business lunch. Be fully committed in order to break your sugar habit. You got this!
Navigating the holidays:
Holidays are a huge source of sugar relapses, and for good reason! They are full of sentimental nostalgia, commercialism enticing us to experience good feelings through food and probably at least some peer pressure to indulge. For some of us, they can also tie in with the reasons we emotionally eat, such as hard feelings. The holidays are by far the worst time to begin to break your sugar habit.
My advice? Decide what you want to do ahead of time. If you feel like it’s best to indulge here and there and can, go for it. However, if you are committed to break your sugar habit and don’t want to get off track, there’s nothing wrong with bringing your own homemade ‘healthy’ desert or even avoiding certain parties altogether. Sometimes families will support you as you break your sugar habit and make adjustments, and others won’t. What will make you the most comfortable? Who do you most want to spend time with? Perhaps you can co-create a plan together that takes everyone’s needs into account.
Sugar proves itself as a source of delicious dysfunction for our bodies. If you didn’t have endometriosis or chronic illness, perhaps you wouldn’t think twice about partaking in desserts and processed foods with sugars regularly. But the fact that you found yourself here, now armed with the latest research on sugar’s effect on your body, your gut and your pain will serve as a wakeup call. Let’s sing a sugar song of hope! I hope you feel ready to break your sugar habit and change your life’s trajectory. Hopefully you are already formulating your small steps to take to nix the sugar habit from your life!
Were you able to break you sugar habit? How did it initially go for you? Share advice in the comments below!
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