Many of my patients come into my clinic of integrative medicine in San Jose CA asking me to help them break their “sugar addiction.” Many of you may be able to relate in the sense that you may say to others that you have a “sweet tooth.” The problem isn’t in the occasional sweets or fruits but rather the problem is when you crave it daily and sometimes in large amounts.
So, how can you help break your sugar habit?
I think that the concept of everything in moderation is true…however, if you know yourself and know that you are not able to eat sweets or fruits or starches in moderation, then more drastic measures may need to be implemented. Many of my patients whom I work with on a regular basis are unable to break their sugar or starch cravings even with clinical support, food journaling, incorporating healthy habits to break the bad habit, etc. So, when you are faced with trying every method under the sun to break the sugar and starch addiction but you are unable to do it, what should you do?
For many of my patients where various techniques of moderation does not work and we are at least a year into trying, I sometimes will encourage my patients to take more drastic measures to jump start their detox from sugars and starches.
For such patients, I have them focus on removing all sugars, fruits and starches including sugar substitutes from their house and only eat a multitude of vegetables, plant-based proteins, legumes, nuts, and low saturated fat proteins like organic white meat poultry and seafood. The patients eat rainbow-colored vegetables and not just greens to get the antioxidants they would otherwise get in fruits.
Once they are able to establish a healthier diet baseline and they are used to eating this way, then we slowly reincorporate fruit back into diet and eventually whole grains. The processed sugars and starches remain out of their diet so as not to re-establish unhealthy habits.
I find that many of my patients where they are very much “addicted” to starches or sugars, they can only ever come off their unhealthy diet if we are able to create a healthier diet baseline by fully removing the trigger foods and then when they are more used to the healthier diet, they can then reincorporate the healthier options back in like fruit and whole grains.
I would highly recommend doing this process with medical guidance or guidance of a registered dietitian only to ensure that you are getting enough of the nutrients you need on a daily basis.
Just remember, the key isn’t about not eating…it’s about eating a wide variety and a healthy amount of the right foods and avoiding the wrong foods that trigger your addiction to sugars and processed starches.
When you are able to regain control of your appetite and your body’s natural cravings for healthy foods like vegetables, then you can regain your ability to take in fruits and whole grains in moderation without eating starches, fruits and sweets in excess.
Just remember, you should always clear your major dietary changes with your doctor before you embark on it to make sure you don’t have any health issues that may be concerning for a major dietary change (for example, diabetics whose blood sugar may dip too low on major dietary changes need to clear it with their physician and only make major dietary changes under a registered dietitian’s supervision).