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Have you ever tried to make dietary lifestyle changes but found yourself struggling? If you have trouble eating a diet of wholesome, organic food without craving some form of junk food then it’s possible that you’re addicted to the processed, sweet stuff. Refined foods are highly addictive thanks to hidden sugars and chemicals that create a surge of dopamine that makes us intensely crave them.
And it’s not just candy. Plenty of “health foods” like bread, cereals, pasta, dressings and other condiments contain sneaky sugars. It’s highly destructive for the body, causing inflammation, hormonal imbalances, and deterioration of the organs. A diet rich in sugar also suppresses immune function, increases odds of tooth decay, heart disease, diabetes, and not to mention weight gain. (1 2 3 4 5)
Luckily, adopting a Paleo-based diet can help you eliminate sugar without even realizing it. The Paleo diet is an evolutionary approach to health that’s based around avoiding gluten, grains, soy, dairy, and legumes. And since Paleo cuts most processed foods out of your diet, this makes it easy to avoid refined sugar. Sugar that has been heavily processed, leaving it stripped of its natural vitamins and minerals. Instead, those sugar cravings are replaced with real, whole foods.
Quitting Sugar With A Paleo Diet
By adding in enough delicious, whole foods and creative recipes you’ll hardly notice the drop in your sugar intake You’ll feel so satisfied once your energy and hormones stabilize that you won’t think twice about the sweet stuff.
Here are nine ways going Paleo can help you eliminate sugar for good:
1. Elimination of Sugary Beverages
When it comes to sneaky sugars, one place they really like to hang out is in deceiving health drinks. You know, the special sweetened waters, energy drinks, sports drinks, fruit juices and coffee beverages. These drinks are typically just sugar water in disguise. If you’re consuming any of these sugary beverages it might be tough at first to give up.
However, once you go Paleo, you’ll find cravings vanishing as your body starts to become nourished and rebalanced. Being thirsty all the time may be a symptom of diabetes, a blood sugar problem, or dehydration. (5) A Paleo diet helps stabilize blood sugar and is rich in vegetables that contain plenty of water and minerals that will hydrate you, leaving you less thirsty. There are also plenty of beverage options including kombucha, coconut kefir, bone broth and a variety of fruit juices (make sure to keep the fiber) and smoothies. These will satisfy and help eliminate dehydration-induced sugar cravings. (6) Pro tip: Make your own kombucha at home (it’s easy and cheaper) to avoid the added sugars of store-bought versions.
2. Better-For-You Desserts
Trying to just cut sugar cold turkey is not a sustainable solution. The idea is not to protest sugar, but simply eliminate the overconsumption of it that adds up via non-dessert foods like cereals, sauces, bread and other hidden sugars. Instead, make dessert time an opportunity to make healthier alternatives. There are thousands of Paleo desserts you can make using whole foods like coconut, berries, avocado, cacao and moderate amounts of raw honey or maple syrup. If you’ve never tried a Paleo dark chocolate mousse then you are in for a treat! Desserts with benefits is a total possibility with a Paleo diet and will make you feel less restricted knowing you can have your cake and eat it too.
3. Quality Carbs
Not all carbohydrates are created equal. Carbohydrates get a bad rap, but they aren’t the problem, refined carbohydrates are. Refined carbohydrates are full of sugar; they are stripped of their fiber leaving on simple carbohydrates behind.
That’s why foods like refined bread, cereals, crackers, and bagels can be just as addictive as ice cream, if not more. Plenty of emerging research shows that refined carbohydrates and sugar are the real culprit of metabolic damage and not fat. (7) While you will reduce your intake of simple carbohydrates by removing sugary beverages, there is still the obstacle of refined carbohydrates, like bread, pasta, and cereal grains. These can also affect the blood sugar in harmful ways that can lead to metabolic disorders, weight gain, and hormonal imbalance.
The good news is that there is a way to take control and a Paleo diet can help. Going Paleo will reduce your overall intake of carbohydrates by replacing them with healthy carbohydrates like sweet potatoes, beets, carrots, and in some cases rice. You will also find that by consuming more healthy fats, quality protein, and fresh vegetables, your cravings for refined carbohydrates vanish. A Paleo diet is higher in healthier fats and lower in carbohydrates, which will put your body in fat-burning mode also known as ketosis. This means more stable blood sugar, energy and an overall reduction craving of sugar to stay energized. (8)
4. Intermittent Fasting
Instead of starting your day with a typical high carbohydrate breakfast of toast, cereal or a muffin, with a Paleo diet breakfast might look a bit more like dinner. You may opt for pasture-raised eggs and vegetables for breakfast or even a soup. You may even give Intermittent fasting a try. It’s essentially the act of not eating for anywhere between 16 and 48 hours. It’s commonly practiced in the Paleo community by ending dinner by 6pm then not eating breakfast until around noon. Practicing intermittent fasting puts the body into a deep state of ketosis, which profoundly benefits the body and brain in numerous ways. Fasting has been shown to improve lifespan, help eliminate sugar cravings and improve cholesterol levels by reducing LDL (bad cholesterol) and blood triglycerides. It has also been shown to promote cell resiliency and to help the body remove accumulated waste. (9 10 11 12)
5. Gain Valuable Cooking Skills
Learning to cook is the cornerstone to healthy eating and removing sugar from the diet. As we’ve discussed, the source of most sugar is in industrial foods. By learning to cook you will be bypassing many sources of sugars. Start by learning to make a few simple meals. Then as you get more comfortable cooking, begin to experiment with making your own sauces, dressings, paleo bread, granolas, and desserts. By making your own meals, you’ll have full control of what goes in and what doesn’t.
6. Fresh Fruit vs. Fruit Juice
Fruit Juice is supposed to be a health food, right? While whole fruits can come with beneficial antioxidants and a source of hydration, once they’re stripped of their fiber there’s not much left but pure fruit sugar. Added to the fact that most of the time fruit juices are high-heated, pasteurized and destroyed of their vitamin and mineral content.
A Paleo diet advices the consumption of fresh, whole and organic fruits, preferably low-glycemic fruits that are closer to their original species. Instead of spending an arm and a leg on fancy store-bought fruit concoctions choose whole fruit as it is in the season. A few of the best options are berries, cherries, grapefruit, lemon, and limes. These are more ideal than apples, bananas, and other sweeter fruits, which are often hybridized, lower in water content, and much higher in fructose. Want to whip up your own fruit juice? Make sure to keep the pulp (it contains the healthy fiber) when you do.
7. Upgraded Sweeteners
The great thing about the Paleo diet is that you are not limited to eat only vegetables and protein. Natural sweeteners like Stevia make a great alternative to refined sugar. You can also use an array of Paleo sweeteners include blended dried fruits, maple syrup, raw honey and coconut nectar to sweeten up baked goods and beverages.
8. Dark Chocolate to the Rescue
You’ll be happy to hear that dark chocolate is totally acceptable on the Paleo diet (in moderation, of course). You may find that just a few squares of dark chocolate can dramatically decrease your appetite for sugar. It comes with plenty of other surprising health benefits too.
9. Probiotic Foods
These superfoods are a highlight of the Paleo diet. They are raw fermented foods like sauerkraut, Kimchi, kombucha, and kefir. Probiotic foods are fantastic for the digestive system and may even help eliminate sugar cravings. Since they are essentially void of sugar, you will find yourself able to swap your soda craving for a kombucha or glass of homemade coconut kefir. Not only will you be decreasing your sugar intake, you’ll be adding healthy bacteria and yeast to your system, which helps strengthen your immune system, improve digestion and prevent disease. (16)(17)