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Steps to fend off the lure of sugar

By Jen Mulson
The Gazette (Colorado Springs, Colo.)

My name is Jennifer, and I’m a sugarholic.

As of this writing, I have been four days clean and sober from the white stuff. However, I probably should admit that there are three Brachs Peppermint Christmas Nougats lurking in my pocket that I’m dying to have with a hot cup of coffee.

I turned to an expert for help. Cassandra Green is a certified holistic health counselor who just happens to co-own and teach at Cambio Yoga in Colorado Springs, Colo. She’s teaching a four-part “Kick Sugar to the Curb” workshop.

Letting go of sugar can be a challenge, my fellow sweet-toothed friends, but it’s a worthy battle.

“Every time you spike your blood sugar, it creates inflammation in the body, and that’s the root of all disease,” Green said. “It’s closely linked to cancer, heart disease and all degenerative diseases.”

I always observe that sugar operates as crack in my body – the more I eat, the more I want. Your body gets accustomed to having it, Green said, which instigates a large release of insulin to deal with it.

“What goes up must come down,” she said. “You go through a cycle of high blood sugar and insulin is released, then blood sugar plummets and you crave sugar again. And sugar releases dopamine. People can be addicted to it just like drugs.”

Here are her recommendations:

• Eat five mini meals a day to keep the blood sugar level steady. Make sure to consume whole foods and not processed foods, as those tend to unwind as sugar in the body, Green said. Try almonds and a piece of fruit as a midmorning snack.

Once the blood sugar is stabilized, the body is less likely to crave sugar.

• Take a multivitamin and a fish oil pill, which contain micronutrients and healthy fat. Due to the Standard American Diet (appropriately called SAD), many folks don’t get the proper nutrition their bodies require, which can lead to sugar cravings.

• Fats can help combat cravings, so have some nuts or a piece of cheese. One also can mistake hunger for thirst, so stay hydrated. Cinnamon is also a handy spice to have, as it can help control blood sugar. Green recommends a baked apple with walnuts for dessert. (I can attest that this is a delicious alternative.)

• Stick with it. By Day 5 of a sugar cleanse, the cravings will dissipate. Be wary of that cup of coffee, too, she said. Caffeine can trigger sugar cravings. (It’s like she’s reading my mind.)

“It’s psychological. We’re used to having cheesecake and a cup of coffee,” she said. “For a lot of us, the caffeine is a natural metabolism speeder, and it prompts you to have more sweets than you normally would. Caffeine and sugar go hand in hand.”

Of course, moderation in all things, right? Eat well 80 percent to 90 percent of the time, depending on your activity level, and treat yourself every once in a while.

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