Updated: Aug 31, 2019
Low sugar, no sugar, low carb, low fructose diets are trending right now and for good reason. Apart from the obvious benefit of weight loss, low/no sugar diets have been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, fatty liver disease and chronic inflammation.
Low/no sugar diets also massively reduce the risk of tooth decay. It is very likely that these diets also reduce the level of inflammation in chronic gum disease.
The role sugar plays in tooth decay is very simple; the relationship we human beings have with sugar is not.
Many people struggle to reduce or eliminate sugar, and having been through the process several times myself, there are many reasons why.
If you are caught in the struggle, and looking for support, you will find the following tips beneficial.
Understand your body and how it works. If your body is used to running on high sugar fuel, it is going to take time for it to adjust to a different kind of fuel. Your body is super intelligent and it knows how to make this change, it just needs time to do so. Tiredness at this time is natural and normal. Afterall, sugar has been keeping you artificially ‘pepped up’. Headaches, ‘brain fog’ and physical discomfort are common at this time and will pass.
Using will power and going ‘cold turkey’ is not the sustainable way. Will power works just fine until something breaks it. A very bad day at the office, an argument with your partner or a bout of sickness can shatter your resolve. The next thing you know you are reaching for a sweet snack and thinking of all the reasons you deserve it. Cycles of short term success followed by ‘failure’ are deeply discouraging and make the sugar reduction/elimination process seem far more difficult than it can be.
Be prepared – the world is full of sweet temptations. We all know that a trip anywhere, be it the service station, supermarket or local café, will offer an array of delicious snacks. Workplaces, train stations and shopping centres have vending machines packed with treats – you don’t even have to interact with anyone to fulfil the cravings. Whilst you are in the process of letting go of sugar be honest about what you will be confronted with and take low sugar snacks to support you as the changes in your metabolism slowly occur.
Consider your whole lifestyle. It is worth exploring how you are running your body in life. Reducing sugar does not occur in a bubble, separate from everything else that is going on in your life. If you are working long hours (be it paid work or caring for your family), taking on a lot of other people’s demands and burdens, and/or experiencing high levels of stress and anxiety, you will tend to seek sugar to get you through the very natural highs and lows of the day. Can you let yourself be tired at these times? What emotions come up for you when you do?
Beware the not-so-hidden sugars. Delicious Thai and Chinese foods, commercial food sauces, pies and pastries, breakfast cereals and bread are high in sugar and can set you back on the craving merry-go-round.
Sleep. This is one of the clinchers for sugar reduction. Are you sitting up late, watching Netflix or working on the computer . . . then dragging yourself out of bed the next morning? If you are, you have created the perfect set up for the sort of cravings that will chip away at your intention to reduce sugar.
Ask for support. This can be from a GP with an interest in nutrition, a dietician who supports a low/no sugar way of eating or a naturopath. Also ask a trusted friend or family member for support at those times when cravings kick in. It is not up to them to 'save you', but having someone to talk to can help you identify the underlying reason you are seeking sweetness. Be astute when using online resources – a lot of the perky people who present low sugar approaches are merely substituting table sugar for other forms of the same thing.
Although reducing sugar in this hectic, energy starved world is not easy, it can be made simple if you get true support and take your whole body and the way you live into consideration.
The benefit to the health of your whole body is worth it.