by Cora Rivard, N.D.
Unhealthy cravings and abuse, it’s a really twisted relationship- and I’m not talking about the book with a similar title. I’m talking about our relationship with sweet additives, sugars and no-calorie sweeteners alike. Ok, so you already do your best to avoid sugar because you know it packs on extra weight, steals minerals from your bones to cause osteoporosis, dampens your immune system’s ability to protect your body, and makes you feel more fatigued and moody.
But I do see many otherwise smart patients make continually bad decisions based on their needs for “sweet.” It is absolutely masochistic! Unfortunately, those who trade out their desires for sugar with no-calorie sweeteners are doomed in studies to actually gain more weight by consuming more calories later on. The reason for this is that when your taste buds register “sweet,” your body is already getting ready for that juicy influx of quick, easy calories. When that caloric influx doesn’t come, your body catches on to the ruse and demands this perceived caloric deficit to be filled- making you overeat later in the day or evening. Plus, that indigestible sugar you consumed may also cause bloating or IBS symptoms in some because it cannot be processed by your intestines. And you are not saved from this cycle from the real stuff either- when you eat something sweet from real sugar, your insulin levels spike then fall precipitously after that, making you crave more sugar to feel balanced and energetic again- like needing your next fix. So, real or fake sugar- how do you get past this unhealthy cycle of craving and self abuse?
You are not going to like this, but you need to do a complete”sweet” avoidance for 2-3 weeks. This actually will help you reset your insulin metabolism, level out your cravings, give you more energy and control towards maintaining a desired weight. No added sugars, no sweeteners of any kind, no dried fruits, fruit juices, or junk foods. And you will need to check labels carefully and prepare food at home as much as possible. I won’t lie, the first week is very difficult, this can be a tough withdrawal period. But after that, you will be surprised how the cravings begin to disappear. You will also notice that your taste buds will reset, rewarding you with the sweet notes you can now detect in your fruits and vegetables. Treats you used to enjoy will taste too sweet after this avoidance. Can you take a 2 or even 3 week challenge to avoid sweets? Let us know how it works out- I’d love your comments on this topic!