Episode 008: How to Break-up with Sugar
In this episode, I’m sharing my personal struggles with sugar, the biggest myths that I believed about sugar, the blind spots I had about it, and what my wake-up call was that finally made me decide to quit it (and the way that I do not recommend doing it!).
I'm also giving you an in-depth overview of the 21-Day Sugar Detox Program: what the program is, why I love it, why I became a certified 21-Day Sugar Detox Coach, and the different ways that you can participate in the program.
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Before we get to today’s episode, I have some exciting and timely news! Enrollment is now officially open in my 21-Day Sugar Detox October group coaching program!
The program begins on Monday, October 9th and you’ll have one full week to prep yourself, and your kitchen, before you actually start detoxing on the following Monday, October 16th.
If you haven’t heard of the 21-Day Sugar Detox program, or you’re not quite sure what it’s all about, keep listening, because I’m going to give you an in-depth overview of what the program is, why it’s important, why I love it, and the different ways that you can participate in it.
This is timely because today’s show is all about sugar. And I’m sharing with you my personal struggles with sugar.
In last week’s episode, we talked about the non-negotiables for optimal health, and the first step was to stop eating inflammatory foods.
And the most inflammatory food of them all, is sugar.
Which is why the first step that I have all of my clients do, regardless of what their health issues are, is to cut out sugar. At the very least refined, added, processed sugar.
Because no matter how clean we think we are eating, for many of us, we’re more than likely, eating more sugar than we actually realize.
And this was true for me.
I’ve never really been a dessert person. I've always preferred salty to sweet. I'm not someone who’s needed to "seal a meal” by ending it with dessert. I’ll take a bag of potato chips over cake any day. I am so not a cake person.
So I didn't believe that I had an addiction to sugar.
Now I’ve read food labels for a really long time, since my college days, but since I am a child of the 80’s, the only thing that I really paid any attention to on food labels was the fat grams, I didn’t really grasp the concept of serving size, and I certainly didn’t pay any attention to sugar grams. Because I was led to believe that fat was bad, and that it was the only thing that mattered.
Then when I chose to start eating healthier, I changed my diet to something that looked like this:
Breakfast was 2 servings of Kashi cereal with a Chobani yogurt By 10 am I’d be starving so I’d have a Luna protein bar Lunch was usually some sort of salad doused in French dressing (because it was a better option than Ranch or Thousand Island) And dinner morphed from pasta with pasta sauce to pasta sauce over steamed or roasted veggies
Sounds pretty healthy right?
Well, let’s take a look at how many sugar grams each of these items have.
One serving of Kashi cereal has 12 grams of sugar. And by the way, one serving is only a ⅔ cups - do you know how little that is??? Chobani blueberry yogurt has 15 grams of sugar (and berries in general, tend to not have as much sugar as other fruits, so you know that most of that 15 grams is NOT coming from the fruit). A Luna bar, dubbed as a “protein” bar actually has 14 grams of sugar. French dressing as 8 grams of sugar per serving which is 2 tablespoons, and how many of us only use 2 tablespoons of dressing? And the brand of pasta sauce that I was using had 8 grams of sugar per serving, which is ½ a cup
Now individually, this might not seem like much, but collectively, over the course of an entire day that was upwards of at least 85 grams of sugar!
And this doesn’t include the other things I consumed, like Gatorade that I drank because I thought that was “healthier.”
I do want to point out that I had stopped eating cookies, candies, Twinkies and all those types of junk food.
And then, about 5 years ago, I cut out gluten and dairy, so I thought I was really eating clean.
But a couple of summers ago, despite training for marathons, working out daily, and eating this way, I started to gain weight.
I was following the advice of my personal trainer of "burning more calories than I ate" and I couldn't figure out why this was happening to me. I was perplexed.
So because I was still counting calories, I was recording everything that I ate, so I read through my MyFitnessPal log and it hit me like a ton of bricks.
I was eating more packaged and processed foods than I realized!
Now remember, prior to going gluten-free, I had sworn off cookies and candies and treats.
But for some reason, “gluten-free” had given my brain the "green light" that it was okay to eat these things - the gluten-free cookies, crackers, pasta, bread, pastries -- foods that I had avoided eating for years.
I thought, “Hey, since it’s gluten-free, it was healthy, right?!”
I had even become a regular at the local gluten-free bakery in my community!
But what I failed to realize is that most of these foods might have been free of gluten, but they were also full of sugar.
And I did not realize just how much sugar I was eating.
It was a profound moment for me when I made that connection - that gluten-free doesn't, in fact, mean healthy. The truth of the matter is, when it comes to many brands, not all, but many brands of gluten-free packaged foods, they are usually packed with more sugar to compensate for the lack of gluten.
So I started paying more attention to food labels, doing the math, and was startled when I realized, again, over the course of an entire day, just how much sugar I was consuming, on a daily basis.
And that’s when I realized that sugar was hidden in soooo many places.
It was in the brand of flavored coconut water that I was drinking, in the sauces that I used to marinate and flavor my foods, even in the protein bars I ate!
Here I was, someone who prided myself with eating healthily, yet I was still eating more sugar that I needed, wanted or realized.
I even recall once going to a gluten-free expo, and loading up on all of the dessert samples, then feeling shaky and brain-fogged by the end of it, no doubt from the sugar overload.
I was having daily sugar highs, then afternoon crashes that left me moody, irritable and full of anxiety.
My blood sugar was unstable which cause hypoglycemic-like symptoms that left me suffering with irregular sleep patterns and debilitating insomnia.
The poor sleep combined with excessive overtraining further contributed my gut problems, hormonal imbalances (adrenals and thyroid), chronic inflammation, constant injuries, Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth (SIBO), basically, exacerbating on the Leaky Gut symptoms I’d already had.
Now you’d think that all of this would’ve been enough for me to quit sugar, right?
But here’s the thing - sugar is addictive. It’s been proven to be just as, possibly even more addictive than narcotics.
My wake-up call finally came when I learned that I had a fatty liver and was developing Non-Alcoholics Fatty Liver Disease.
And that was the moment where I finally said, “I refuse to let sugar have this much power over me.”
And I quit sugar - cold turkey.
I'm not going to lie to you - I did it on my own and it was hard.
Those first 7-10 days were tough because I was still realizing that so many things that I ate had sugar. And I’ll be honest with you - it was deflating.
And I had the normal symptoms you get, like headaches that happens when you detox and quit sugar. And I wanted to say, “Screw this!” - more than once.
But I kept telling myself that I refuse to let sugar have this control over me, and I stuck with it. And I found that the more I educated myself on the damage that sugar did to my body, and the more I stayed motivated to fill my body with quality sources of protein and healthy fats, the easier it became.
Eventually, my taste buds did change and the cravings went away.
In fact, now, my tolerance for refined sugar has gone down dramatically. Now I’m hyper-aware of the subtle reactions that my body has to sugar when I do eat it, even if it’s just a little bit of it.
I recognize the noticeable changes that I feel. The brain fog, the headaches, the anxious jitters - it all comes back pretty quickly.
Now while I do believe that everyone should quit sugar, I feel that it is even more imperative for those who battle digestive issues, struggle with hormonal imbalances, chronic and autoimmune disease and metabolic syndrome.
Healthy digestion is an essential foundation to feeling our best. When our digestive system isn’t working as it should, your whole body suffers. Like the analogy I used in Episode 007, you can’t take back the castle, the castle being your gut, if the invaders are still there. And sugar is definitely an invader.
When comes to sugar’s effect on the digestive system, it's less to do with it's mechanical functions and more to do with your "gut microbiome."
If you’ve never heard the term “gut microbiome” before, it’s somewhat become a hot and trendy topic the past couple of years. The “gut microbiome” is a community in your digestive system that is made up of bacteria.
Everyone has bacteria in their gut, and it's healthy to have good bacteria. We want this.
But there's also bad bacteria, and when the bad bacteria outnumbers the good, that mini ecosystem that is your “gut microbiome”, it becomes out of balance.
And this is when you experience things like gas, bloating, IBS; and even more severe digestive issues like SIBO, candida overgrowth, leaky gut syndrome (what I talked about in Episode 007) and other symptoms that you may not realize are related to digestion like skin issues (acne, eczema, psoriasis), as well as things like anxiety, and depression.
And? sugar is a major culprit that throws off the delicate internal balance of your microbiome.
Because sugar feeds the bad bacteria and gives it life.
Harmful bacteria thrives from sugar, while the good bacteria thrives on healthy, nourishing foods that are high in nutrients like fats and fiber.
So when you stop eating so much sugar, you stop feeding the bad bacteria.
But ditching sugar is super easy to say, but not so easy to do.
Because sugar is addictive. We know this.
And sugar cravings, as we also know, can feel overwhelming and have such a strong hold on us that it can feel impossible to conquer.
And if you’ve never transitioned from a processed foods to whole foods diet, I would not recommend trying doing it alone. I did, and it was hell.
And that’s where the 21-Day Sugar Detox program comes in.
The 21-Day Sugar Detox is a program created by New York Times Bestselling author, Diane Sanfilippo.
It’s a simple, yet comprehensive, effective, and most importantly, proven program, that has helped hundreds, if not thousands of people to quit sugar, reset their palate to conquer sugar cravings, and balance their blood sugar.
Now like I said, most people need guidance and support when trying to do something like this, so Diane created a certified coaches program for this, and this past summer, I became a certified 21-Day Sugar Detox coach.
It only made sense for me to become one since sugar is the first step that I have all of my clients address.
And after doing this for a while, I personally feel that this program is the most complete program to take people through because it’s flexible and meets everyone where they are.
So what do I mean by that.
Well, it has three different levels.
Level One is the least strict of the three levels and it is for someone who has never done any type of sugar detox before. It’s a great place to start because it eases you into this lifestyle.
Level Two is the mid-range level, where you cut out a little more things that have sugar than Level One, but not as much as Level Three
And of course, Level Three is the most advanced and strictest of the three levels, and if you’re familiar with the autoimmune protocol, it aligns very nicely with that.
Now, if that isn’t pretty damn cool in and of itself, it gets even better because there are modifications so you can personalize the program even more to fit your lifestyle.
There’s a modification plan if you’re an athlete and expend more energy than most people.
There’s a modification plan if you’re a pescatarian.
There’s a modification plan if you’re an expecting or breastfeeding mom.
There’s a modification plan if you’re cooking for a family.
And there’s a modification plan if you have an autoimmune disease.
Because we’re all different, and each one of us has unique nutrient needs.
And this is why I love this program. It’s not a “one-size-fits-all” solution that so many diets and nutritional programs are. This program embraces bioindividuality and meets you wherever it is that YOU are.
Heck, for some people, Level one might be too much. My mom has an autoimmune disease, among other health issues and she’s never done any type of sugar detox, or any detox before.
So she did what I would call “Level .5.” Not only did she lose six pounds in just three weeks, but she slept better, had more energy and most importantly, finished the 21-days realizing just what kind of effect sugar has on her health.
So now that I told you what the 21-Day Sugar Detox Program is, let’s talk about what you’ll be eating:
Meat and eggs, seafood, healthy fats and oils, non-starchy vegetables, limited starchy vegetables, nuts and seeds, and limited fruits.
What you won’t be eating for three weeks (and this varies depending on the Level of the program that you do):
Refined foods, this includes gluten containing grains, legumes, dairy (depending on the level you are doing), vegetable and seed oils, sugar, sweeteners, artificial sweeteners and high glycemic carbohydrates, certain nuts, alcohol, processed drinks, and any other sweet tasting drinks.
If that sounds extreme, remember, this is only for three weeks and the goal of the program is to reset your palate so you don’t crave sugar, and to balance your blood sugar, because this isn’t something that only diabetics have to worry about. Remember when I said that I had hypoglycemic-like symptoms? That’s all related to blood sugar! That was what was disrupting my sleep!
Now depending on your experience doing something like this, you may need different levels of support - and this is another reason why I love this program.
If you’ve done a sugar detox before and need a reset, then doing it as a “self-study” program is the a great option for you.
And what I mean by self-study is that you get the 21-Day Sugar Detox Guide Book and Cookbook and follow it on your own. Or, you can even purchase the self-study program, which has three options at three different price points, that has some additional resources for support. But it’s all self-guided.
But if you’ve never done anything like this before, then having the guidance and added support from a certified coach to help you navigate through the questions that are inevitable to come up is hugely valuable.
And some of those questions might be:
“Is this an approved food?” “What should I expect on Day 5 of the program?” “Is how I’m feeling normal at this point of the program?” “What should I do after the program?”
All of these are normal questions that most participant has, which is why it’s helpful to have a coach guide you.
In addition, a goal for the program is educate you so you know how to continue this real-foods way of eating beyond the program. And this is why, during the program, I have live, weekly classes to provide education on this.
And then the last option, and this is for those who may need a little more individualized support, or for those who aren’t comfortable working in a group, you can choose the one-on-one option, which is private coaching.
At this time, I’m planning on running group coaching for this program, about once a quarter, so four times a year. This may change, but it’s my plan for now.
Now like I mentioned at the start of this episode, my October group coaching program is starting on October 9th!
So although the actual detox is 21-days, my group coaching program is four weeks and that’s because the first week of my group coaching program is all about helping you select which Level is appropriate for you, and then preparing yourself mentally and logistically to successfully complete the program.
If this is something that you are interested in doing, then go to www.livefablife.com/21DSD, or go to the show notes for this episode, www.livefablife.com/008 to get more information.
And if you have more questions on whether this program is right for you, shoot me an email or reach out to me on social media and I am happy to exchange emails with you, or jump on the phone with you and answer any questions that you have. And know that if I think this is not the right program for you right now, I will tell you so.
And if you are interested in the self-study version of the program, or private coaching, these options are available at any time. And you can find more information about it on the www.livefablife.com/008
And if you aren’t sure if you even need to do a sugar detox, I have an eight question quiz that you can take to help you decide if this is something that is right for you.
And you guessed it, you can find that quiz over on the show notes at www.livefablife.com/008.
That’s it for this week.
If you’re enjoying the show, I’d love for you to:
Leave the show a rating and review over on iTunes. And share it with someone you know who’d enjoy it too.
Thanks for listening and I’ll catch you on the next episode of the Live FAB Life Podcast.
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Naomi Nakamura is a certified Holistic Health Coach who takes a holistic approach through functional nutrition. Through her weekly show, The Live FAB Live Podcast, coaching programs, and safer skincare solutions, she helps people with acne and other chronic skin issues clear up their skin by teaching them where food meets physiology and how food, gut health, stress, and toxins are intricately connected to the health and appearance of our skin. Naomi resides in the San Francisco Bay Area and can often be found romping around the city with her puppy girl, Coco Pop! Connect with Naomi at: Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest.