I’ve have to say my biggest weakness (by far) is an addiction to refined sugar. Once I get started on a sugar binge there’s no stopping me! Unlucky for me, this overindulgence of sugar has its side effects, including irritability, PMS, and the worst one – acne.
A lot of people don’t believe that sugar and chocolate can give you bad skin but I’m proof that it actually does. I first made this discovery by accident when I took refined sugar completely out of my diet for a month to treat a recurring case of Candidiasis. I was surprised to find the diet cleared up my skin as well, to the point where it was perfectly clear. It also made my skin tone very even, I no longer had those red blotchy bits around my nose.
The 48 hour sugar cravings
Every now and again when my skin gets pimply or I start suffering from bad PMS, I’ll take sugar out of my diet. No matter how many times I do it, it never gets any easier, there’s always this two day period where my sugar cravings are really intense. I’ll do anything to get my hands on something sweet. Through trial and error, or maybe desperation … I’ve come up with a few tactics that help a lot, which can also be applied when maintaining a healthy diet.
- When you get a sugar craving try eating fresh or dried fruits. My favourites are organic dried apple and banana chips. Just make sure you check the ingredients for any added sugar.
- Try sugar alternatives. Xylitol is probably the best sugar alternative that I’ve found because it’s natural and doesn’t affect your insulin levels (so also safe for diabetics!). It’s great for tea and coffee or breakfast cereal. Xylitol can be found at health food supermarkets.
- Don’t keep sweet food in the house. I have never successfully given up sugar with food around the house to tempt me.
- Read labels and choose the healthy alternative. There are a lot of unnecessary added sugars in foods, especially jam, juice and breakfast cereals. Unfortunately options are limited when it comes to cereals, I think wheatbix and oats are about it. So, think of alternatives. I like to start the day with a bowl of porridge which I add honey, banana or mixed berries (buy the frozen ones, they thaw out perfectly when stirred into hot porridge) and slivered almonds to. YUM!
- Get out of the habit of having to eat something sweet after a meal. After a few days you’ll find you can easily break the habit. Try substituting the desserts you used to have with green tea or fruit. Cheese is also another good option, think of the last cheese platter you had at your favorite western restaurant.
- Girls, be careful when you start your no refined sugar diet. I personally crave sugar a lot more in the lead up to my period so I always start the diet at a later stage in my cycle.
- Listen to what your body is telling you. I personally need the cold turkey period at the start where I don’t touch refined sugars at all. After a week I can start having a taste of someone else’s chocolate cake they’ve ordered or one of those little cookies some coffee shops stick on your plate when you order tea or coffee. After my symptoms have cleared up (which is usually about a month) I follow a rule of 90% for the body 10% for the soul, meaning 90% of the food I eat is to maintain good health and the other 10% is for pleasure.
It’s not all about PMS and wanting to look good. Eating anything in excess isn’t good for you, but refined sugars are especially not a natural food our bodies are used to.
When we eat refined sugars, they pass quickly into the bloodstream giving the stomach and pancreas a shock. As a result, foods are not digested and assimilated into the body properly. Our blood-sugar level then gets out of whack causing more sugar cravings.
This blood-sugar imbalance can contribute to a range of disease and unhappiness including diabetes, heart disease, immune deficiency, herpes, yeast infections, PMS, loss of memory, nervousness, irritability, negative thought patterns, paranoia, acne etc.
This article from Nexus magazine is one of my favourites. I often refer back to it when I’m on a sugar binge and need a bit of motivation to settle down.
Refined sugar: The sweetest poison of all
It gets easier
After about three weeks into the diet I always find that I can’t tolerate eating a lot of refined sugar anymore. I went out to dinner last night and was the only one who didn’t order dessert. Of course I was offered a taste of everyone else’s which I found was more than enough (and kind of fun to try them all!). My tolerance for rich sweet foods becomes very low.
When I gave up sugar for the problem I had with Candidiasis, I took it to the extreme. I checked every single ingredient label in food items such as sauces and prepackaged meals for added sugar. I didn’t touch one single grain of refined sugar for that entire month. I no longer think taking things this far is necessary. As long as you stick to avoiding the obvious sweet foods and added refined sugars (such as tea, coffee, breakfast cereal) then I think it’s enough.
Watch out for any dizziness when you’re giving up refined sugar for the first time. If you’ve been eating a lot of sugar in your diet for a long period of time, your body can freak out when you completely take it out. Some people may experience dizziness or tiredness as their blood-sugar levels are getting back to normal. I personally have had none of these symptoms.
I’m writing this after about three weeks into my current sugar free diet. I’m in a great mood and my skin is not completely healed but about 90% better. For me, the rewards are definitely better than the five seconds of pleasure I get from eating chocolate.