Welcome to Day 3, Beautiful Ones!
As we move into deeper layers of deconstructing how we eat and why we eat what we eat, I wanted to give you some tools today to help curb the intense sugar cravings that may at times feel like they’re taking over. You may say, “I’m good without sugar, I don’t have a big sweet tooth. What I really want is a warm, delicious baguette.” Well, that bread that you (and I) long for IS a sugar craving in disguise. Refined starches – particularly white ones – are converted into sugar within seconds once they make contact with saliva. The salivary enzyme that digests starches is called amylase. And amylase turns that bread into sugar almost immediately. This is why the whole refined sugar/refined flour thing is so complex and challenging! Because - there is no easy way to put it….sugar is NOT A FOOD. Sugar is a drug. And you and me are crackheads. This is drugs…this is your brain on drugs. Any questions?
A 2007 study at the University of Bordeaux in France concluded that sugar is four times more addictive than cocaine. Rats were given cocaine and given sugar water. They were way more interested in the sugar water hands down…ahem…paws down. Even the rats that were already addicted to cocaine switched over to saccharine water repeatedly. The researchers intensified the cocaine dose and kept the sugar dose the same and the rats STILL wanted the sugar over the cocaine! Our little furry friends were fiending just like us. And a 2002 study done at Princeton University revealed the neurochemical effects of sugar and noted that the type of endorphins (feel good hormones) activated by sugar in the brain are the exact same ones activated by heroin and morphine!
Processed sugar is THE most addictive substance known to humankind and truly an epidemic. Not until industrialized food became breakfast, lunch and dinner have we had such an exponential rise in chronic, degenerative diseases such as diabetes and heart disease. A 2010 United Nations report states that for the first time EVER, “lifestyle” diseases are killing more people than infectious diseases! It’s the fine white powder, stripped and processed in all its disguises that has us addicted. We as a species are ADDICTED to a drug ADDED to our food.
This fine, white, habit forming powder was once truly considered to be a drug in Europe. It was a prescription medication in the 1600’s, locked away in drawers in apothecaries. The yearning for this drug was so intense, that when the conquistadores came into the “New World” and found ideal climate conditions for sugar cane to grow, they expanded slave trade into the Americas specifically with this goal in mind: more sugar to send back to Europe. Sugar was the number one growth producing crop for Europe. And because sugar cane is such a brutal crop to harvest, slave labor became imperative to meet the demand. It was what fueled that horrible journey through the Middle Passage. Sugar enslaved then and continues to enslave today. WE MUST BREAK FREE!
What constitutes addictive behavior? If you crave something that is counterproductive to you as an individual, if it is persistent and you feel like it is not a choice, but a necessity. If it creates a sense of loss of control within you, if you experience irritability without it, along with other withdrawal symptoms, then you are addicted. I can almost guarantee that these three days without the white stuff HURTS most, if not all of you. So if you are feeling like you just need a bite of a chocolate chip cookie and no one will get hurt, don’t worry. It’s to be expected! And if you don’t yet, you most likely will at some point. You may feel irritable, nauseous, fatigued, or have a headache. You may even feel flu like symptoms. This journey is about YOU and YOUR optimal health so that you CAN be there for everybody else and that you CAN do the work you are meant to be doing. Make time for rest! For exercise! This will help alleviate detox symptoms that may arise.
I know some of you may feel limited in your food choices. I encourage you to get really creative and refer to the meal suggestions posted here to further inspire you! I make a pot of brown rice, a pot of quinoa, and a couple different vinaigrettes to last for three days and spruce up whatever veggies and legumes I have. And for those of you that are on the road all day, I HIGHLY suggest you invest in a small cooler you can keep in your car. You can have hummus, salsa, dipping veggies, fruit, cold legume salads, and whatever you wish waiting for you to make sure you eat before you’re starving and can give into cravings. Get a thermos for soup. If cooking is a challenge, go to a farmers market near you and buy prepared foods from vendors! Ask about their ingredients. I get wonderful fermented foods from a Korean stand and an assortment of different flavored hummus from an Armenian stand. Organic and delicious. Get together with friends and have a cooking day where everyone can pack up meals for the week! You got this!
The strongest antidote you have to your cravings is this: your COMMITMENT. I truly believe that discipline is a secondary virtue. I spent thousands of dollars going to seminars at the Landmark Forum to learn one thing. One thing that changed everything for me: YOU ARE NOT YOUR THOUGHTS. Say what?? Yeah, you are not your thoughts! I just gave it to you, now you owe me $3,000. Haha…
Thoughts come into your head as they do into so many other people’s heads, but you didn’t invent that thought. At least not the grand majority of them. So just because you THINK you need that glass of wine, or that pan dulce, or that slice of pizza doesn’t really mean you do. And there is no need to berate yourself for having that thought because that thought does not define you or your resolve. Your resolve is determined buy your ACTIONS, not your THOUGHTS. And you’ll be happy to know that cravings typically last only 10 to 20 minutes. So there is a lot you can do to arm yourself against caving into temptation. Here are a few:
· If that craving comes in a moment where you can actually sit for 10 to 20 minutes, embrace that time with yourself! Sit in a quiet place, or lie on the grass and allow yourself to be flooded with the craving without giving into it. Focus on your breath and fully feel everything that comes up for you. It will come in sounding like your voice; your needs. But through this exercise you will see that it will pass like a wind through you, never taking hold of you. And then it will fly away into somebody else’s head. YOU ARE NOT YOUR THOUGHTS
· Drink a tall glass of water. Sometimes thirst disguises itself as a craving
· Get a good night's sleep. I know it seems luxurious, but sleeping 7 - 9 hours per night is actually a necessity for optimal health. (more on that in a future post) Good sleep boosts serotonin levels (the "happy" hormone), and having a good amount of serotonin coursing through you will make it less likely that you'll cave in to a craving. Or even that you'll have a craving at all!
· Brush your teeth! For me, and probably for you, too, something sweet at the end of a meal somehow completes the experience. If you use a natural toothpaste sweetened with Xylitol, you will brush that craving right out of your mouth! And then when you go back to what you thought you may want “for dessert,” you won’t want it anymore because you just brushed your teeth and changed up the whole vibe in your mouth! Try this. I swear it works. And you’ll be minty fresh!
· Drink tea after a meal. Rushing to brush your teeth after a meal at a restaurant is not as feasible as doing that at home. What I have personally found that helps me tame my hedonist alter ego (and I've been at this for yeeears..lol) is to follow my meal with an aromatic tea sweetened with raw honey. I get the sweet. I get the warm. I get the full sensorial pleasure of fragrant aroma that emanates from my cup. And I also get the medicinal properties of whatever herb I'm using for the tea as well as the honey! It's a win/win. Especially effective in restaurants. Try it and tell me what you think!
· Arm yourself against hunger! Eat a good breakfast that includes protein and fat. This helps balance blood sugar levels.
· Always have nuts, seeds and fruit with you. Sometimes the craving is actually a drop in glucose levels in the blood (aka “blood sugar”). So you just need to eat a little something to counteract the drop and you’ll be back to high on life! Always carry something you can munch on in your bag or your car or your desk.
Above all else, be gentle with yourself! We are on a journey and there is a unique learning curve for each one of us, myself included. We get better and better at this. It is a process. So allow yourself to be a beginner! Even if you’re a serial cleanser, there is always something more to learn and to deepen. This is the place and this is the moment!
Enjoy every sensation without judgment today.
Mind, Body, Soul!!!! All equal parts of the WHOLE!!!
©Erika Elizondo, H.H.C