6 Tips for Eliminating Sugar: By Dr. Olisa Mak

white granulated sugar and refined sugar on a gray background

Eliminating sugar is no easy feat but it’s definitely doable.  Like anything else, you need a plan and you’re going to have to commit to it.  Your plan should be one that you create and that is realistic.  Genuinely ask yourself if it’s something that you can stick to.

Know that not all sugars are bad and in fact, your body needs sugar to function.  There are good sugar and bad sugars.  We want to eliminate the bad sugars – those that are processed, refined, and that lack few benefits for the body.  Both a store bought cookie and broccoli are high in carbohydrates/sugar but a cookie is low in vitamins, minerals, protein whereas a broccoli contains antioxidants good for the liver, vitamins, and minerals.

As you create your plan to eliminate sugar, here are the top 10 things to consider:

#1: One Step at a Time

Don’t just stop eating sugar cold turkey.  Sugar is everywhere and if you stop eating sugar cold turkey, you’re going to find it very difficult.  Instead, eliminate sugar in phases, where each phase lasts around 1-2 weeks.  It’s easiest to eliminate sugary drinks first, then junk food.  In phase 3 and 4, you’re going to have to dig deeper and cut out bread, pastas and rice.  Phase 4, you have to start looking at labels more closely, especially dressings, ketchup, and other condiments where sugar might actually be hidden.

#2: Manage your stress, manage your energy.

When you an outlet to relieve the stress, you won’t feel the need to reach for that sweet.  You’ll feel more in control and motivated to stick with your plan.   Be in control by learning to listen to your body and what it wants and needs.  What are some ways to do this?  Connecting with nature, taking time out to do things you enjoy and meditation.  Supplements can also help with stress management – your B-vitamins are great for this, adrenal support helps manage your cortisol levels.

#3: Snack throughout the day and don’t skip meals.

Whenever our blood is low in sugar (hypoglycemic) or high in sugar, our body is in a state of stress.  As part of your diet, make sure that you eat throughout the day and eat foods that don’t spike up your insulin, these are your proteins.  Some easy snack ideas:  nut mixes (especially almonds and pumpkin seeds), quinoa and protein shakes, chia seeds.

A personal favorite of mine is:  coconut flakes, with chia seeds and kiwi with a little bit of water.

#4: Have a yummy back up plan.

Just because you’re eliminating sugar doesn’t mean hat you have to remove all delicious foods.  A great recipe book is “21 day sugar detox” by Diane Sanfilippo.  She has recipes for cinnamon cookies that are to die for, popsicles, and even apple crumble.  If those don’t float your boat, there are so many amazing recipes out there.  Look at some yummy food porn before you start eliminating sugar from your diet and have something there to reach for whenever you feel like you need something absolutely delicious.  Diane Sanfilippo’s recipes will not disappoint you.  The apple crumble recipe is my personal favorite.

#5: Be open to addressing the emotional component of your love for sugar.

We associate a lot of the foods we eat with emotions.  For many of us, we tend to reach for that sugary treat when we’re feeling a negative emotion, stressed, frustrated, anxious, angry, whatever it may be.  Often, all that negative emotion seems to magically go away once we’ve bitten into that sugary treat.  Why?  We’re often trying to distract ourselves, trying to fill a void or to numb an insecurity.  Ask yourself, what is that void, or that insecurity?  If you are open to exploring and resolving the underlying cause of that negative emotion, you won’t experience the trigger to eat and you’ll be that much closer to permanently eliminating the desire to eat that food.

#6: Love Yourself.

If you falter at any point during your plan, don’t beat yourself up, overwhelming yourself with negative thoughts.  Show yourself compassion and love and simply acknowledge that you faltered, and go back to your plan.  Before you start eliminating sugar, write out a conversation that you will have with yourself.  If your best friend were the one to falter, what would you say to them to help them get back on track?  Have that same conversation with yourself.

Conclusion:

It’s great if you can have a friend, a partner, or a family member who wants to eliminate sugar too.  Work together, share challenges, motivate each other to stick to the plan.  If you want a more comprehensive plan, more guidance with meal plans, supplements, contact Dr. Olisa Mak olisa@inspirithealth.ca.


Resources:

The 21-Day Sugar Detox: Bust Sugar & Carb Cravings Naturally by Diane Sanfilippo

Meditation 101:  A Beginner’s Guide to Meditation https://vimeo.com/131682712

About Dr. Olisa Mak

I am a licensed Naturopathic Physician at Inspirit Health Group in Yaletown, Downtown Vancouver.  Although I have a general family practice and treat a wide variety of conditions I have a special interest with stress, anxiety and brain health.

I am driven to educate, inspire and empower those around me. I believe that everyone has the potential to achieve their dreams and goals but are often unable to because of their fears, perceptions and circumstances.I strive to work with my patients to remove barriers, empowering patients to seize opportunities and to make the life they want a reality.

During my free time, I am a dedicated fellow Viber, I enjoy reading and being outdoors.

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