Sugar in food comes in many guises: corn syrup, brown sugar, fruit juice concentrate, dextrose, glucose, fructose, invert sugar maltose, hydrogenated starch, maple syrup, lactose, sucrose, sorghum, turbinado sugar, molasses, and more. In fact, there are at least 56 different names to watch out for on your ingredient labels. And watch out for it you should, because sugar is highly addictive.
According to the USDA, the typical American eats about 128 pounds of added sugar every year. Such a high sugar intake can leave you vulnerable to gut dysbiosis, Candida overgrowth, and yeast infections. But it’s also alarming in many other ways. For example, researchers say that you’re twice as likely to die of a heart attack if you get 21% of your calories from added sugar compared to someone who gets 8% of their calories from added sugar.
Other studies have found direct links between sugar intake and higher levels of LDL cholesterol and triglycerides, and lower levels of HDL cholesterol. High sugar intake also promotes the production of inflammatory chemicals that raise heart disease risk. Other common issues associated with high sugar intake are type-2 diabetes, obesity, and even cancer.
Reducing your sugar intake and switching to a low-sugar diet can help to protect you from Candida and other health issues. This is the perfect time of year to make a conscious effort to deal with your sugar addiction. Here’s what you can do about it:
1. Cut down on the sugar you drink
You may be surprised to notice how much sugar you’re consuming in drinks. A few spoons in your tea/coffee, a fruit juice with lunch, or a soft drink when socializing – these can all take your sugar intake to a higher level. Cut down the amount of sugar you consume in drinks gradually, and you will soon notice that your taste preferences start to change too.
Even the “healthier” flavored waters can contain large doses of sugar. A perfect example is Vitamin Water, which typically contains a massive 31 grams of sugar in each bottle.
2. Find low-sugar alternatives
Simply substituting your favorite high-sugar food with low-sugar variants will do the trick. This isn’t about losing weight but about cutting down your daily sugar load.
3. Know the total sugar content in your food
Fruits and other natural sources of sugar have their nutritional benefits, but they are still sweet and can lead to addiction. You will always end up wanting more. This is especially true if you’re consuming too much fructose. Be mindful of your total sugar intake by paying attention to how much of it is coming from fruit sources. In the initial stages of a Candida diet, it might be best to avoid fruits entirely.
4. Keep an eye open for hidden sugar
It is important to be able to identify sugar in all forms in the foods that you buy. Manufacturers are very clever with the words they use in ingredient lists.
You probably know that the first ingredient on a food label is the one found in the largest amount. If the first ingredient was ‘sugar’, would you buy that food? Probably not. Producers know this, and so they often split up the sugar into three or four different types. For example, the third, fourth, and seventh ingredients might be molasses, sucrose, and high fructose corn syrup. In this case, sugar might still be the largest ingredient, but many casual shoppers would not realize it.
You’ll find sugar in all sorts of foods, many of them really surprising. These include chewing gum, pasta sauce, cough syrups, mints, and baked beans. Even some prescription medications come loaded with sugar. So, be vigilant and scan every food label before making your purchase.
5. Learn to go slow
The key to losing your sweet tooth is to reduce your sugar intake gradually. Some people struggle to go cold turkey; they end up craving more. When you’re preparing for your Candida cleanse, be sure to trim down your sugar consumption in the week or two before you start.
Begin by switching from candy bars and desserts to nuts or fruit. Make your own food so you know what the ingredients are. Keep making adjustments every week. If you’re serious about beating Candida and getting your gut flora back to normal, consider cutting back on your fruit too.
Once you create a new habit of a low sugar diet, your cravings will subside. You will find that once your sweet tooth disappears, those hyper-sweet snacks you used to eat become almost inedible. When you’re starting out in your battle against sugar, remember that small changes over time will prove more sustainable than a drastic all-or-nothing approach.
6. Know When And Why You Eat Sugar
Some people consume sugar out of habit, while others use it as a stress-coping mechanism. It seems a good way to release stress since it’s easy and always accessible. Pay attention to your behavior and take note if you’re adding more sugar in your life just to satisfy your emotional hunger. Switch to other more effective and healthy coping mechanisms such as yoga, meditation, therapy, or other similar exercises. Something relaxing like a simple breathing exercise will make you feel better in the long run than turning to sugary snacks. Our Candida treatment program contains a whole book devoted to identifying and reducing stress.
7. Add Savory Foods to Your Diet
Eating less sugar often affects you emotionally, but you can avoid the doom-and-gloom feeling of reducing your sugar intake by introducing savory foods in your diet. Try new combos of savory foods, be more experimental, and enjoy all those savory alternatives that you haven’t tried yet.
8. Work through Social Challenges
Once you have decided to reduce your sugar intake, you don’t just have to deal with your inner sugar cravings but you have to tackle several social challenges on the way. How can you say no to sugary food on weddings, birthdays, and other annual occasions? Cheating occasionally won’t hurt too much, but try to get right back on track if you can. It’s all about becoming more aware of your sugar habits in social situations to make it easier to manage.