I am NOT the food police, let alone the sugar police. After all, being an intermittent fasting coach is all about empowering YOU to decide what you want to eat.
Nevertheless, I’ve been talking about sugar more with my clients recently. Probably because I’ve been eating too much of the stuff myself! And because I know how much sugar can impact your perimenopausal/menopausal symptoms, as well as your intermittent fasting success.
While my sugar cravings have gone WAY down since I started my intermittent fasting lifestyle, every so often, I can still go a bit overboard. Usually, it’s on the heels of a birthday or some other celebration. It’s a slippery slope.
Sugar can make intermittent fasting so much harder because it makes your body think that it’s hungry when it’s not. It affects your appetite-regulating hormones and your brain’s reward centres, increasing your desire for more of the same. Moreover, it sabotages your body’s efforts to regulate your blood sugar.
I know that when I close my eating window with something sugar-laden or even with highly refined carbs (which is basically the same as sugar to your body), I’m white-knuckling it through my fast the next day.
It can also exacerbate so many of the symptoms that we already struggle with as we go through (peri)menopause, for example:
- Joint pain/muscle aches
- Digestive issues
- Brain fog
- Hot flushes
- Breast soreness
- Mood swings
- Burning mouth
- Weight gain
- Disrupted sleep
- Skin problems
So why do we do it?
We know sugar is highly addictive, but I think many of us also have an emotional attachment to it. Personally, I feel sad about the thought of no cookies or cakes in my future. I don’t know about you, but I have such a strong association of comfort when I think of (and eat) these foods.
However, the feel-good factor is always short-lived. The deeper I get into intermittent fasting and the older I get, the less I can tolerate sweet stuff. After the initial sugar rush, it’s all downhill and I often find myself feeling lousy.
I’ve been wondering whether it’s really worth it… That’s why I’ve made a decision to cut down on refined sugar in March. I want to see how my body will feel on less sugar for a whole month.
If you’d like to join me, I’ll be posting about it regularly in my Fasting4Menopause Facebook support group and I’ve lined up a couple of webcasts with sugar and nutrition experts, which I’m super excited about!
In the meantime, if you’d like to cut down on sugar, but aren’t ready to go cold turkey, here are some tips for getting started:
- Halve sugar quantities in baking recipes
- Try using monk fruit extract instead of sugar in recipes
- Substitute dark chocolate for milk chocolate
- Eat whole foods rather than processed foods with hidden sugars (basically, avoid anything with a label that likely has unrecognisable names for sugar)
- Sweeten recipes with bananas or applesauce
- Make foods like soups, sauces and snack bars from scratch
- Swap fruity yogurts with Greek or plain yogurt & real fruit
- Increase your consumption of protein & healthy fats, which keep you full for longer
- Replace fruit juices/smoothies with whole fruit
While this is a start, I’m aware that it’s just the tip of the iceberg. Ideally the goal is to not even feel a craving for sweet tasting foods – aside from fresh fruit.
I feel like this could be the one thing that catapults me into even better health.
Would you like to come along for the ride? If so, remember to join my Fasting4Menopause Facebook group if you’re not in there already.
I look forward to doing this with you!
“Sugar has become so prevalent in today’s society that if you removed all the items containing it from our standard supermarket shelves, just 20% of items would remain.” – Damon Gameau, That Sugar Film