My name is Jennifer, and I'm a sugarholic.
As of this writing, I have 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. She'll lead a four-part "Kick Sugar to the Curb" workshop at the best time of year - after our post-holiday feasting extravaganza.
Letting go of the white stuff 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."
She's not lying. 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. A healthy fat and carbohydrate, such as an apple, can help keep you from feeling hungry.
Once the blood sugar is stabilized, the body is less likely to crave sugar.
"The body is mourning that sugar," she said. "But once it's stabilized, the body can react more diplomatically. You can have huge change in personality due to blood sugar. You can manage stuff in life a lot better (when blood sugar stabilizes)."
- Take a multi-vitamin 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, according to an article on livestrong.com.
So maybe I'll have one of those tempting treats in my pocket, after a nice big bowl of kale. And then I'll brush my teeth, which my mama advised me to do long ago. She also fought the sugar demons, mostly over a carton of ice cream after dinner every night. She was right, though - a minty mouth does help stop a sugar binge in its tracks.
"If we look back before processed food was readily available, we see that people died over time, from infectious disease," Green said. "They didn't have a lot of degenerative diseases. Now we see we're dying of degenerative diseases. They're starting out on a cellular level."
“Kick Sugar to the Curb”
When: 5:30-6:30 p.m. Wednesdays, Jan. 15-Feb. 5
Where: Cambio. Yoga, 3326 Austin Bluffs Parkway
Cost: $20 for the series; 291-1798, 321-8547, cambioyoga.com