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We’d like to start sharing some of the Nutrition Newsletter topics that Laura Tricarico wrote in 2015 and 2016 to help us all understand how to live more healthfully, and how to eat for CrossFit performance.  Please enjoy topic #1!

Break Up With Sugar

It is time.  You have been in an abusive relationship for far too long.  You could say, “It’s not you, it’s me,” or “I need to work on myself.”  Whatever cliche breakup line does the trick, it is time to kick sugar to the curb and for good reason.  Sugar is the leading dietary cause of inflammation which is linked to most chronic diseases.  Never before in the history of mankind have we had an emergency need to lower bloodsugar.  Never.
According to the USDA statistics, the average American consumed 196 POUNDS of sugar in 2010.  In order to accomplish this, one would need to ingest eight ounces of sugar a day or 227 grams.  It’s actually not that difficult to do, considering sugar is found in almost any processed food under a multitude of different names.
Let’s take a look at why sugar consumption is such a big deal.  In one word: diabetes.  One in three children born in 2000 will become diabetic and 90%of diabetes is associated with a high carbohydrate consumption. When ingesting high levels of refined carbohydrates the pancreas, adrenal glands, and liver are greatly impacted.  Under such duress, the pancreas will eventually stop making enough insulin to combat the amount of sugar in the bloodstream, the adrenals become exhausted affecting hormone production, and the liver begins to have difficulty managing the glucose in the bloodstream.  Unfortunately, the damage does not stop there.  Immune function decreases, cells lose their ability to react to insulin and eyes, feet, kidneys, and the brain suffer from narrowed microvasculature.  The progression to diabetes is not as far off as you might think because it begins slowly with hypoglycemia, progressing to insulin resistance and ends with Type II diabetes. Without knowing it, many (dare I say most) people following a standard American diet (SAD) suffer from low bloodsugar or hypoglycemia.  Hypoglycemia can be characterized as needing to eat every few hours, dizziness upon standing, shaking of extremities, mood changes when hungry (aka hangry), low energy, and frequent urination.  It may be also affecting your children.  Does your child have focus issues, tantrums, low energy then overactive?  If this sounds like you or your child, it is time to break up with sugar -for good.
“I have tried it all.  It takes all my willpower and after a few days, I cave to that one latte or cookie and I am
back at square one.”  Sound familiar?  This is not your fault.  Manufacturers spend a lot of time and money creating (yes, in al ab) foods that become addicting to the brain.  Trying to eat ‘only a little’ will eventually snow ball into ‘all the time’ because sugar affects the pleasure centers in the brain, making us continually chase the sugar high and happiness that quickly follows.  So ditch the guilt and mindgames and kick the habit for good.  The only method I have seen successful at helping individuals eliminate cravings and correct blood sugar imbalances is a sugar control diet or an elimination diet. A popular diet today calls it Whole30 or 21 Day Sugar Detox, but essentially any diet that removes sugar and processed foods is a sugar control diet.   When following a sugar control diet, the body’s sugar control mechanism re-calibrates, increasing energy and eliminating cravings in 2-3 weeks. A side benefit is it can also help individuals with weight loss or gain issues, giving your body a rest and reboot.

In order to find success during a sugar control diet or elimination diet,the following guidelines should be followed for 2-4 weeks:

  • Ideally, eat three complete meals with no snacks in between, giving your body time to digest properly and regulate hunger (keep in mind that you you may need to snack during the first week to avoid withdrawal symptoms).
  • Eat only whole foods found in nature including meat, vegetables, nuts/seeds, some fruit, and little starch.
  • Avoid ALL processed or packaged foods, all sugar, grains, dairy.
  • Include some raw foods everyday.

    Once the 2-4 weeks are complete, you may choose to reintroduce the foods you avoided. Please be incredibly mindful regarding how you feel if you choose to consume dairy, grains, and/or sugar.  Once your body has had the opportunity to heal on the elimination diet and inflammation has been reduced or resolved, you may discover that those reintroduced foods make you feel poorly or you can only consume them infrequently.  Use the education of the elimination diet to help you live the healthiest lifestyle with a diet that fits your body’s needs.

    Will it be hard?  Possibly.  Will it be worth it?  Absolutely.  Imagine a life FREE from the constant inner dialogue with your willpower.  Feeling in control of your emotions and energy all day.  Not feeling dependent on food or uneasy when your meal schedule is thrown off.  Freedom from food.  By completing 2-4 weeks of hard work in the kitchen, cooking your meals and being aware of the food you eat, you have the opportunity to take control over your body and how you feel. Forever being aware of the affect food can have and having the knowledge to right the wrongs in the future.

    Go ahead and tell sugar and those manufacturers that you have found someone else (fat and protein) and you deserve better, because you certainly do!

     – Laura Tricarico, Certified Nutritional Therapist