Quit Sugar For Good
In everyone’s diet there tends to be at least one Achilles’ heel, a kind of food we gravitate towards that keeps us trapped in an unhealthy cycle of dependency. For many, our nemesis is sugar, which keeps us on a roller coaster of thrill and crash. We all hear about “quitting sugar” but it’s hard to imagine what that diet would actually look like.
These 6 women have forged their own path into sugar-free terrain and have learned to thrive, not just survive. They tell us what they reach for when the sugar cravings hit, be it breakfast, lunch, dinner, or snack time. (Repeat after us: No more dieting. Ever. Instead, learn how to eat clean—with zero deprivation!—and watch the pounds drop off, with Your Metabolism Makeover.) Do you want to break free of sugar’s tyranny without nursing a constant feeling of deprivation? Here’s how.
Make a Clean Sweep:
“First of all it was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done,” says Maureen Petrosky, author, television personality, classically trained chef, and food stylist in Bucks County, PA. “I had to do it cold turkey. All or nothing. I always exercise and eat healthy whole foods and grow and cook a lot of our food. But when I hit 40 the scale started to change, and I knew I needed to cut out sugar. It’s the hardest with the kids, and we had no support outside the house. I cleared out anything that had added sugar. I kept natural sugars, such as fruit and honey in the diet. Every label that said sugar as an ingredient was not permitted in the house.”
Favorite Breakfasts: Greek yogurt with berries and nuts, or warm quinoa with berries and nuts, coconut chia seed pudding and berries, or eggs with cheese.
Sleuth The Labels:
“If you want to eat healthy you have to cook and read labels,” says Petrosky. “The key was scouting out the pantry items: Finding mayo, ketchup, mustard, bread, wraps (a lot of whole wheat wraps have caramel added), pasta sauce (jarred), and hot sauce (jarred) that had no added sugars. Once I had the right things to work with it made sugar easier to eliminate.”
Favorite Lunches: “Tons of salads with either tuna or roasted veggies or homemade soup or sandwiches. I found bread that had no sugar and wraps without added sugar. Our go-to sandwiches are hummus and lettuce; tomato, carrots, and cucumbers; or cheese and eggs with fresh salsa,” she says.
Favorite Snacks: Almonds or popcorn with lots of different flavorings such as rosemary and sea salt, smoked paprika, or hot sauce.
Discover a Sugar Substitute:
“I’ve taken breaks from sugar at various times in my adult life, and my go-to sweetener has been stevia,” says Lizzy Scully, a digital marketing consultant most recently based in Biddeford, ME. “I’ve both grown it in my garden and purchased it in powder and liquid form. It definitely tastes horrible in coffee, but it works really well with certain ingredients.”
Favorite Stevia-Sweetened Foods: “I love it in the almond meal pancakes I make, spicy teas and hot cocoa made with raw cacao powder and unsweetened coconut milk,”
Satisfy Sugar Cravings with Fat:
“We don’t eat refined sugar and instead opt for a very low sugar diet,” says Jenny Sue Kostecki Shaw, a national award-winning children’s book author and illustrator in Taos, NM. “My daughter Tulsi is almost 8 years old and eats sweets very slowly and notices how they make her feel. We love ghee on bread which we use instead of maple syrup, honey, or jam. Nuts and nut butter are a preferred snack. We are vegetarians, but it seems if we eat solids with plenty of healthy fats, Tulsi rarely thinks of sweets.”
Favorite Breakfast: French toast, slathered in ghee and a sprinkle of salt. “Sometimes we add the tiniest sweetener in the ghee just for the flavor,” she says.
“I will tell you that since I integrated a liquid probiotic into my diet about 8 months ago my sugar cravings have really subsided,” says Curtine Starfire, a retiree in Boulder, CO. “The probiotic’s high CFU (100 billion per Tbsp) seems to have brought my body back to balance.” More and more research on gut flora suggests that gut bacteria does influence our food cravings.
Favorite Food-based Sources of Probiotics: Sauerkraut, kombucha, kefir, pickles, and miso soup are all rich in microbes that can mitigate our inherent propensity for sweet foods.
Get Ample Protein:
“I eat more protein-oriented food, such as meat and nuts, when I cut out sugar,” says Esther Cohen, an energy healer in Lyons, CO. “Protein is full of amino acids that can help reduce sugar cravings. It also evens out moods and calms the nervous system.” She finds that protein slows down carbohydrate absorption and minimizes its potential for havoc on blood sugar levels.
Favorite Dinner: “Turkey sausages with sautéed greens or green coconut chicken curry with cashews. The curry is warming and naturally sweet, but not enough to Effect blood sugar levels,”
Go Heavy on The Avocado:
“It’s all about healthy fat,” says Meghan Rabbitt, a freelance writer who travels constantly. “The more avocado and coconut oil I eat, the less likely I am to crave a sweet. I add avocado to almost everything.
Favorite Dinner: “I add avocado to pesto and put it over pasta. You can’t even taste the avocado, but somehow it nips my nightly craving for dark chocolate in the bud,” she says.
Taper off Sugar:
While some people advise stopping sugar all at once, Cohen favors a more moderate approach, adding more berries and dried fruit as you cut down on refined sugar. “I recommend swapping in honey, which if it’s local and organic, can be almost medicinal.”
Favorite Breakfast: Hot rice cereal with raisins and dried apricots, shredded coconut, almonds, and butter.