How to Stop Eating Sugar – 16 Tips to Help You

by | Feb 17, 2022 | Breast Cancer and Nutrition, Sugar | 0 comments

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How to Stop Eating Sugar – 16 Tips to Help You

by | Feb 17, 2022 | Breast Cancer and Nutrition, Sugar | 0 comments

How To Stop Eating Sugar – 16 Tips to Help You

For those who are just beginning a breast cancer healing journey, in order to give yourself the best odds of getting through this alive, you really do need to improve your diet, and the number one thing that most of us struggle with is how to stop eating sugar. This article will offer you some great tips on how to do that and why that’s so important.

As a breast cancer patient, I was told by my oncologist “Go ahead, eat what you want, it doesn’t matter.” Being a devotee of natural therapies, I quite plainly knew that was wrong. I was happy that he didn’t have a bowl of sweet candy sitting on the table in the chemotherapy treatment room, but I had plenty of friends whose oncologists did.

 

Talk about NOT helping!

Why is this such a big deal? I’ve written about problems with sugar extensively in my newsletters and other articles on this website. At the bottom of this article I’ve linked to several other articles for more background on the subject of sugar.

Pretty much these days, I think everyone agrees that for cancer patients especially, sugar avoidance is just wise. But we struggle with it!

Those who have been with me for awhile will know two things about me.
#1 I love sugar
#2 I hate sugar

I love sugar for how it makes us feel when we eat it – high quality sugar, anyway (yes, there’s a difference). When we eat sugar, the mesolimbic part of our brain (also known as the brain’s reward center) is activated to release dopamine. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter released by neurons in the brain and it gives us a feeling of pleasure – like when an event is nice, positive. Dopamine also reinforces certain behavior, making it more likely for us to carry out that particular action again. Eat sugar, release dopamine, feel better – no wonder we are addicted!

However, if you are eating things like highly processed sugar and are the least little bit cognizant of how your body feels afterward, you intuitively know it isn’t doing you any good. You feel yucky when you eat it.

Now for the part about why I hate sugar. It’s the favorite food of cancer cells and tumors. They will do anything to get it, including turning fat stores and protein from your body into sugar for their own fuel. I always recommend to my clients that if they have active cancer in their bodies they MUST break the sugar habit. Later, when you’re cancer-free, you can enjoy it now and again. Just not while you’re trying to heal up.

Yes, all cells require sugar in the form of glucose to perform their work, but our cells can get that sugar from other things we eat, we certainly don’t need to consume sugar, especially highly processed sugar.

There are two other things I hate about sugar:

1. Sugar suppresses your immune system by a significant degree after consuming it [1] ; and

2. Eating sugar might lead to metastatic cancer. A 2015 study [2] done with animals at the MD Anderson Cancer Center and researchers found that the mice fed a diet high in added sugars had a higher incidence of breast cancer AND a significantly higher incidence of lung metastases than the animals fed a low-sugar diet.

About that remark I made earlier regarding a difference between high quality sugars and poor quality sugars, here’s what I meant. An example of high quality sugars would be fruits, some vegetables like carrots and beets – these are good for you and they contain things like fiber which slow down the absorption of sugar.

An example of poor quality sugars would be sugars that are added to a food during processing. This includes highly processed white sugar, raw sugar, syrups, honey, and concentrated fruit juices (there’s a list of the baddies below at #10).

What About Honey?

You will note that I included honey in that list above. I get asked a lot whether honey is considered to be unhealthy for us, being so natural and lovely to eat, and wonderful to sweeten our tea/coffee. But here’s the deal – honey is metabolized pretty much like sugar and will spike our blood sugar levels accordingly. I do like manuka honey – it has some amazing healing qualities that other highly processed honey doesn’t have, so if you are keeping your sugar levels very low and want a teaspoon of manuka honey now and then, that’s probably going to be okay.

Here’s more about honey. It’s good to understand the glycemic index and how it works. The glycemic index (GI) measures how quickly a carbohydrate raises your blood sugar levels. Honey carries a GI score of 58. Sugar carries a GI score of 60. [3] So while honey is a tiny fraction less, it can still raise your blood sugar level very quickly, and this is what we want to avoid.

Here are my best 16 tips on how to stop eating sugar:

Address the reason for the sugar cravings:

1. Candida albicans infection. It may be that you have a rampant candida infection. Candida albicans is an opportunistic fungus that normally coexists in our digestive tract with the good bacteria, but during periods of high stress, too much alcohol intake, and/or antibiotic use a candida overgrowth can occur. It can get to plague proportions in your gut and even up inside your mouth (it can also cause vaginal infections, a/k/a yeast infection). Like cancer cells, candida loves sugar, it is fuelled by sugar. If you suspect this, get to your naturopath (your doctor will likely not know about this) and get yourself tested for candida.

2. Hormone balancing. Often hormonal imbalances are what cause us to crave sugar, so again, a trip to the naturopath to find out what’s what in the hormone department may be of huge benefit.

3. Deal with depression and stress. One of the major reasons we crave sweets is because we are depressed or stressed. Get help – there are many ways to do that. Whether you choose to see a therapist, get a massage, create more time for meditation, see a hypnotherapist, use Emotional Freedom Technique (Tapping) – whatever you choose to do – don’t put this off, please. Your emotional health is one of the most important aspects of a healing journey.

4. Address protein deficiencies. Make sure you’re eating plenty of lean, organic protein – whatever that means to you. If you’re vegan, you already know how to get your protein so make sure you’re getting enough of it, even if it just means including a high quality protein powder in your smoothie every day. A protein deficiency can often show up as sweet cravings – your body wants *something* and you don’t often recognize what that is.

In the kitchen:

5. Stop drinking sugar-laden soft drinks and sodas. Instead, opt for unsweetened teas like green tea (an awesome breast cancer fighter) or filtered water infused with slices of fresh fruit like organic lemons, strawberries, watermelon, cucumbers. Please don’t be tempted to turn to artificially sweetened drinks as an alternative. They are filled with chemicals that absolutely will not help you heal from cancer. Drinks with artificial sweeteners are even worse for you than the sugar they are meant to replace. Have a look at my article Are There Any Healthy Sugar Substitutes for more information.  There are a couple that are considered okay.

6. Swap unsweetened applesauce for sugar in your favorite recipes – if you want to do this, use a 1:1 ratio but for every cup of applesauce you put into your recipe, you’ll need to reduce the amount of liquid by 1/4 cup because applesauce has a lot of moisture in it. Also look up “raw food recipes” on the internet – these websites are devoted to helping us choose healthier options that don’t include sugar and they are absolutely delicious.

7. Instead of putting sugar or honey into your coffee, swap them for raw cacao powder, or ground vanilla bean powder or a sprinkling of cinnamon. Yes, your taste buds will need time to get accustomed to this, but these are much healthier substitutes.

8. Make your own salad dressing. This is a common source of hidden sugar – low fat options are not a great help to you because when food manufacturers remove the fat from salad dressings, they usually replace it with sugar and salt. It only takes a couple of minutes to make your own salad dressings, they are more tasty and much healthier for you.

9. Avoid the pre-made pouches of instant oats and sugary cereals. They are laden with sugar and chemicals, and often GMOs and SO NOT healthy! Instead, take a little extra time to use real cooking oats or steel-cut oats and add in your own organic raisins, chopped apple, nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves, vanilla (even pumpkin pie spice!) to add flavor to your morning bowl of oats. If you prefer it sweet, just add a drop of stevia.

At the grocery store:

10. Be a label reader and buy real food with no added sugars. Whether you are buying bread, oatmeal, applesauce, nut butters – whatever it is – look at the label and make sure there are no added sugars. In order to have the best success at eliminating the bad sugars from our diet, we need to understand and recognize all of the crafty names that are given to sugar, so we can make an informed choice about what we’re putting into our mouths. Here’s a list of the most common added sugars you’ll see on labels (in alphabetical order):

agave
brown rice syrup (sounds innocent, right? Nope!)
brown sugar
cane sugar
confectioner’s sugar
corn syrup
dextrose
dried cane syrup
dried cane juice
fructose
fruit juice concentrates
glucose
high-fructose corn syrup
honey (see my mention of manuka honey above)
lactose
malt syrup
maltose
maple syrup
molasses
maple syrup
nectar
raw sugar
sucrose
sugar
— any word ending in “-ose”

11. Never go shopping when you’re hungry. You are ten times more likely to buy sugary treats when shopping hungry.

When those sweet cravings hit:

12. Eat some fresh fruit. Fruit contains a myriad of healing phytochemicals (plant-based compounds) that help to heal breast cancer. I especially love sprinkling apple slices with cinnamon – cinnamon is naturally sweet, so is the apple, and both of them will help you heal from cancer! If you are choosing dried fruit, make sure they are (a) organic; and (b) have no added sugars (because many do). Dried cranberries are not a good option as they almost always have sugar added to them due to their tartness. Dates are amazing though – not only do they help to fight breast cancer due to their impressive phytochemicals, they also help to naturally lower cholesterol levels.

13. Put a drop of organic fennel essential oil onto your tongue when you’re craving sweets. It is lovely and sweet, tastes likes licorice, and will satisfy that craving for sweets. Okay, now every time I mention fennel or licorice someone tells me they can’t have it because it’s estrogenic. Indeed, just Google it and you will see the following warning on fennel: “Some studies have found that fennel has an estrogenic effect, which means that it mimics the effects of estrogen… People with cancers that are sensitive to estrogen should also avoid the use of fennel.” Here’s the thing. You need to know how it actually works because it’s widely misunderstood. Fennel and licorice are phytoestrogens, but that’s not a bad thing. If you don’t understand how phytoestrogens work, see my video Phytoestrogen – What’s the Big Concern for Breast Cancer? 

14. Have a cuppa. Many herbal teas (especially cinnamon and licorice) have a natural sweetness that really help with those cravings. They will help you feel better, stave off those sweet cravings, and fight cancer all at once.

15. Sleep more! Yes, I just said that. The less sleep you get, the more you crave sugary snacks, according to a UC Berkeley study. [4] So when you get those late-night cravings for something sweet, go get some sleep instead!

16. Eat sour foods. This tip comes to us from Dr Axe – when you’re craving sweet food, do the opposite and eat sour foods instead. This may seem odd but eating foods that are sour (lemons, limes, apple cider vinegar, sauerkraut etc) actually helps to reduce sugar cravings.

There you have it – my 16 best tips for easy ways to stop eating so much sugar!

For more information on this subject see my articles Avoid Sugar, Help Your Immune System and Sugar, Metabolic Syndrome, Diabetes And Breast Cancer Risk.

References:

[1] Harmful effects of high amounts of glucose on the immune system: An updated review – https://iubmb.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/bab.1938

[2] Sugar in Western diets increases risk for breast cancer tumors and metastasis – https://www.mdanderson.org/newsroom/sugar-in-western-diets.h00-15899296
8.html

[3] Honey’s Effects on Diabetes and Blood Sugar – https://www.webmd.com/diabetes/honey-diabetes

[4] Sleep deprivation linked to junk food cravings – https://news.berkeley.edu/2013/08/06/poor-sleep-junk-food/

 

 

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About Marnie Clark

marnie clark breast cancer coach

Hi I’m Marnie Clark, breast cancer survivor turned coach. I have 20 years of experience in natural medicine.  In 2004/05 I battled breast cancer myself. You can see more about my journey on my page Breast Cancer Diary.

I’ve been healthy and recurrence-free since 2004 and in 2012 I became a Breast Cancer Coach because I became aware of the fact that whilst there is now a wealth of information on the Internet, much of it is confusing, conflicting, and sometimes just wrong!

So it is my duty to help you unconfuse and untangle all that information, and find what works for YOU.

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