End Your Sugar Addiction In 2019

It doesn´t matter how sophisticated we have become. In one sense we haven´t developed one bit since the stone age: our brains still tell us “sugar is good – eat as much as you can!”. During stone age, and in fact until less than 100 years ago, this wasn´t really a problem since there wasn´t much of the sweet stuff around. But today is an entirely different thing. Sugar and processed foods with fast carbs are everywhere, so easy to over-eat, and they tend to make us fat and sick. Scientists all over the world agree that the over-consumption of sugar is one of the most pressing global threats to both individuals and societies. And the cost of treatment and medication are skyrocketing.

From a theoretical point of view, this seems so totally unnecessary, since the problems are so easy to avoid. Diabetes educators have simple advice: avoid sugary sodas, lose some weight, and exercise moderately. Simple as that…but reality is an entirely different thing, and when the sugar cravings come crawling upon us, it takes a lot to withstand.

Everyone who has tried to break a deeply rooted habit, like smoking, know what it takes. And breaking the sugar habit can be just as hard. It´s not only about breaking the “chemical” part since the cravings usually also have a behavioral side. We need to stop doing something we are used to, something we like, something that gives us a reward. Getting away can be complicated, but controlling the blood sugar by avoiding the spikes and lows is a good beginning.

New Year New You 2019
So…why not make 2019 the year you take simple measures to keep your blood sugar within a healthy range? You will get rewards both directly and in a longer perspective. By eating and drinking in a way that reduces the blood sugar spikes and lows, you will be able to avoid the slump and sugar cravings that often appear after eating – this will also help you consume less sugar. In the longer perspective a more controlled blood sugar curve is strongly associated with effective weight management, and reduced risk factors for type-2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and dementia….and here´s a list of things you can do to get these rewards (since it´s this time of the year, I have made a New Year´s Resolutions List with five simple advice).

New Year’s Resolutions List for a healthy blood sugar

  1. Replace the sugary sodas and energy drinks with water – still or sparkling. This takes away a lot of empty calories from your meal and is probably the one most effective step you can take towards a healthier lifestyle (in addition to quitting smoking or over-consumption of alcohol).
  2. Eat healthier. Many of the foods we love, like burgers, pizzas, fries, white bread, and sushi contain sugar and fast carbs that cause our blood sugar to spike, just to drop like a stone shortly after, and leaving us sluggish, and craving for sugar. Whole-grain bread, veggies, al-dente cooked pasta, and beans are examples of foods that give a slower and lower blood sugar rise, and prolonged satiety.
  3. Eat slower. Don´t throw in the food – allow yourself to enjoy your (healthy) meal. This will make you full from eating less.
  4. Have a real breakfast. Forget the doughnut and sweetened coffee on the run. It´s a disaster both for your blood sugar curve, and your energy. Try oatmeal, unsweetened cereals, and bread, a natural yogurt, a whole fruit, and why not a glass of Oatly oat milk instead. This will keep your energy up for several hours (not to talk about your kids).
  5. Get enough sleep – avoid stress. There´s a clear connection between lack of sleep, a stressful life, and the body´s ability to regulate blood sugar. And by the way – the same goes for exercise. Try to get at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise every day. 

Blood Sugar Spike What To Do
“Ok,” you might say. “These tips sound great, but I´m not prepared to live like a Zen-monk. To me, there is more than one side to well-being, and some of the foods I love are certainly not on your list. Now give me something more realistic!”

My answer to that? The question is very similar to one that my Swedish research group used to get from people worrying about their eating habits. And we found this to be a good answer: “Most people can eat everything, just not always.” Eating a burger with fries once in a while certainly won´t kill you. Nor will an occasional soda. And if you exercise you can eat more than if you sit still all day. It´s merely a question of energy balance. But if these eating habits and overeating become constant, you will be exposing yourself to a growing health hazard. But remember- even an unhealthy meal can be made healthier, and here are a few blood sugar lowering tricks: A green salad on the side, with a sour dressing, will not only fill up – but the vinegar will also reduce the blood sugar rise from the fast carbs in your food. A vinegar shot before your meal will have the same effect (recipe here!). Do you love potatoes? Boil and keep in the fridge over-night, and the fast carbs in the potatoes will change into super slow. Make a delicious potato salad (with vinegar dressing) to serve with your meal, and your home safe. And the whole idea behind Good Idea – the blood sugar lowering beverage that I co-invented – is to make it a little easier for people like you and me to adopt a healthier lifestyle. It´s not instead of change – it´s a part of it. It can´t do the whole job, but it will make your burger meal or pizza a little healthier.

Prediabetes can be both avoided and reversed!
More than 100 million U.S. adults are now living with diabetes or prediabetes, according to a new report released today by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).  The good and bad news can be summarized in one sentence: “What you eat and drink makes a difference.” Bad news: the sky-rocketing type-2 diabetes numbers are caused to a great extent by an unhealthy lifestyle with too many fast-carb meals, too much of those sugary drinks and too little exercise. And obesity is the number one risk factor. Good news: A pre-diabetic state can be both prevented and reversed with quite simple lifestyle changes.

As a food scientist, I have spent more than 20 years researching the preventive properties of different foods and food concepts. My most influential driving force has been the conviction that prevention and the ability to choose is a much better deal for both individuals and society than lifelong treatment, medication and restrictions. My research has convinced me even more, that food can be a powerful tool. I have taken part in many clinical studies that show how the right kind of food can be as powerful as medication to fight blood sugar spikes and the associated inflammation, and entirely without side effects. But that knowledge doesn´t help much if it doesn´t reach the gut. So what is needed?

This leads me to my own New Year´s Resolution. During 2019, I will continue to give my best and most useful tips for a healthy life, here on my blog, and every time I meet people looking for advice.

So…stay tuned for more – wishing you a happy, healthy new year.

Dr. Elin

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