by Katherine Willow ND

The following is a summary of a free talk given at Carp Ridge Healing House’s monthly open house.

sugarNorth Americans consume an average of 180 pounds of sugar a year. That’s over half a pound a day.  Sugar depletes our nutrients and is a leading mechanism in many illnesses including obesity, heart disease (much more than fats!), mood disorders (especially anxiety), cavities, cancer, diabetes (third leading cause of death) and lowered immunity (for 5 hours after eating it).

Even though we know that sugar is bad for you, it is so addictive that people have a hard time giving it up.  It’s like smoking, alcohol, drugs and addictive behaviours because it’s such a quick fix of energy in a tired culture.  Yet instead of replenishing our energies, it drains us of various vitamins (especially the B variety) and minerals (chromium, for example), and locks us into craving it over and over.

I know, I’ve been there.  When I graduated from naturopathic college in 1983, I was consuming two chocolate bars almost every day, hoping my patients didn’t catch me!  And these weren’t organic, free trade bars with sucanat either.  It took several years to finally unhook and it’s still amazing to me that I can go by a bakery or convenience store without buying something sweet (most of the time!).

How does one unwind out of a sugar addiction?  There are several key steps.  They are not quick fixes but they definitely work over time.  The freedom and having REAL energy is unbelievably worth it!

Here are the steps:

1. Replace white sugar with natural sweeteners and gradually decrease these as well.

2. Eat adequate protein, for some people with anxiety and hypoglycemia this may mean with every meal and snack.  Think protein shakes.  Balance meals with protein, complex carbs (no white flour either), veggies and healthy fats.

3. Take supplements to replace the nutrients lost over years of empty calories.  There are specific ones for sugar problems, ie Multiglyco by Genestra, available at the clinic, Nutrichem Pharmacy or through www.supplementsplus.ca (with a 10% discount when referred by a naturopath–even through a newsletter!).

4. Sleep enough, especially earlier in the night (before 10pm is therapeutic).  For some people this is THE key.

5. DON’T use synthetic sweeteners, they create more problems than they solve.

6. Read labels and learn which words masquerade as sugar (ie, sucrose, dextrose, etc.).  Know that 4 grams sugar equals one teaspoon.  We don’t nutritionally need ANY added sugar in our diets, other foods give us all we need.

7. Exercise appropriately for your body type (see Perfect Health by Deepak Chopra for finding out your type — we carry it in the clinic and so do many bookstores).

8. For 142 more tips on how to win back your emotional and physical freedom from sugar, please consider picking up Get the Sugar Out by Ann Louise Gittleman.  We’re just ordering it and it’s also easily available at bookstores and some health food stores.

If you can’t do it on your own, consider getting help from a naturopath, nutritionist, counsellor (for the stress aspect) or team up with a friend or family member on the same path.

Best of luck to you — let us know your success stories!