Before I started keto, my blood sugar was entirely out of whack. I would start the day by ordering a venti iced coffee from Starbucks laced with TONNES of caramel sauce (not syrup, ACTUAL caramel sauce!) followed by oats topped with brown sugar…. and that was just breakfast!
Throughout the morning as my energy crash would come around morning tea (mid morning), I’d reach for something sweet like a blueberry muffin. By mid afternoon my sugar cravings would go into overdrive, and it felt like I was possessed. All I could think about was getting a few $1 mixture lolly (candy) bags from the convenience store across the road from my office, and sure enough, every day I would!
I knew that I was in deep. I was genuinely addicted to sugar, but how would I get out?!
I’m not the only one who has found themselves in this spot. Let’s be real: sugar is delicious. And for good reason. Food scientists literally engineer products to have just the right amount of sweetness to keep us on the hook, craving more and more.
Not only that, but eating sugar also taps the pleasure centres of our brains, releasing feel-good chemicals. As a result, a lot of us have experienced a sugar-depence at some point in our lives. The more we have, the more we want. And the more we have, the harder it is to get that same buzz.
But, this dependence can lead to a bunch of health issues, many of which I experienced personally including weight gain, brain fog, sleep issues, and skin breakouts. That’s why I knew that I needed to overhaul my habits and ditch refined sugars and carbs to experience better overall health.
So, I embraced a keto low carb diet. That meant no processed sugars or carbs, and I jumped in head first.
What happened when I embarked on my sugar-free journey
The first few days were challenging as I saw the foods that I used to eat, and I wanted them again to experience that sugar-rush high. I reminded myself that it takes a few weeks to establish new habits, and that I had to keep going until I reached that point – so I did.
Instead of reaching for the foods I previously ate, I made alternatives. I satisfied my sweet tooth with fresh strawberries and unsweetened whipped cream. I made a keto caramel slice. Unlike my sugary foods, I was able to enjoy these and stick to a healthy portion size. I didn’t feel the need to overeat or binge… my sweet tooth was satisfied!
Right away I started noticing the benefits of my new lifestyle which also kept me on track, such as:
Better sleeps: I was able to drift off naturally, leading to a steady energy level throughout the day.
Feeling leaner: Lowering my consumption of added refined sugars and carbs made me feel so lean, and less bloated. Eating sugars and carbs may cause inflammation in the body that plays a part in how puffy and bloated we look and feel. Cutting these out visibly takes inflammation down as well!
Weight loss: It makes sense that when you remove the empty calories from your diet and fill up on satisfying foods full of healthy fats, micronutrients, protein and fibre, you end up eating fewer calories overall and as a result you drop some excess weight.
Fewer cravings: Removing processed sugar from my diet stopped my cravings for it. This took a few weeks to really take a hold, but once it happened it was like a light was switched in my brain!
Ultimately what I discovered is that eating less sugar makes me feel better. I’m happier and healthier, and best of all, I don’t miss it!
If you’re wanting to banish the sugar cravings too, here are my 5 tips:
- Stay Hydrated: Your body can mistake hunger as cravings, so stay hydrated! Drink water (it can be flat or fizzy), and if you’re uninspired to drink water, try to flavour it with herbs, berries and citrus to mix it up
- Embrace Natural Sweeteners: Plant-based sweeteners such as stevia and monkfruit are a great alternative when ditching sugar. They don’t impact your blood sugar (so they won’t give you that sugar rush followed by a crash), or disrupt your microbiome the way that artificial sweeteners may.
- Protein and Fat: If like me, your sweet tooth is particularly bad come 3pm… make sure your lunch is filled with healthy protein and fat sources. This will balance your blood sugar and keep your energy levels high. Nuts, nut butters, hard boiled eggs, yogurt, salmon, and berries are all great options!
- Read Labels: Watch out for sneaky sugars that may be creeping in… If you think you are cutting sugar, but you’re accidentally and unknowingly eating it in some of the foods you’re buying, then your cravings for it will continue. Read food labels and choose the lowest or no-sugar options. It is crazy how many things have sugar hidden in them!
- Sip on Tea: After dinner enjoy a herbal tea (with no added sugar!) that has sweet notes like cinnamon or vanilla. This can really help to curb any sugar cravings that hit post dinner.
And finally, remember just to take it day by day! It may take some time to overcome your sugar addiction, but trust me, it’s worth it!