In my last couple posts, we discussed ways to reduce sugar and why that is so important for your health. Today, let’s talk about some simple yet powerful strategies to reverse direction when sugar has led you down the path to prediabetes, diabetes, or metabolic syndrome.
First, I want you to know that these metabolic challenges can be reversed, even if you’re already taking diabetes medication. There are countless stories of people reversing entrenched cases of diabetes with diet and lifestyle improvements. It’s not even a long complicated process. It can be done in months, weeks, or even days.
There are many books written by nutrition minded physicians who have had great success in reversing diabetes. Some recommend a low fat vegan diet (like Dr Barnard and Dr Fuhrman) while some go to the opposite end of the spectrum and recommend a more Paleo type approach, and everything in between. Although we love it when there’s one clear magic bullet, the great news is that there isn’t just one way to regain optimal blood sugar control. This means that we have flexibility in making the changes that resonate with us, that we can enjoy and sustain.
Although the general sentiment is that you have to dramatically reduce carbs, it turns out you can reverse diabetes with a high carb, low fat diet as well as a high fat, low carb diet. Although these approaches seem contradictory, what they have in common is the most important:
They are not both high carb and high fat. This appears to be the most dangerous combination, and unfortunately is typical of the Standard American Diet. French fries, anybody?
They emphasize whole foods. It’s the processed, damaged, stripped, destroyed, chemicalized, fake, sugar drenched foods that are making us sick on all fronts, not just diabetes. In theory we all understand this. But we have trouble applying it because so much of the standard American diet is processed, including everyday items like pasta, bread, pizza, muffins, cereal, cookies, and cake, which are made with processed flour that is stripped of its nutrients, protein, fat, and fiber. Grains that are dismantled in this way are rapidly digested and spike blood sugar, which then spikes insulin, and metabolic mayhem ensues. Some people choose to avoid all grains when reversing diabetes or trying to lose weight, but actual whole grains like quinoa and brown or black rice can be part of a therapeutic diet. Fiber seems to be the key. Eat foods that naturally have ample fiber.
They eliminate sweeteners, even the “healthy” ones. Just like processed grains, sweeteners (most of them also highly processed) permeate our food system. Our palates and pancreases have become unknowingly habituated to them. This became very obvious to me personally when I noticed that green tea and strawberry jam seemed sad and boring when they didn’t have added sugar! You can use stevia for a period of time as you wean off sugar, but ultimately, it’s very helpful to eliminate that too, so your palate can start appreciating then natural sweetness in foods again.
Alcohol in moderation if at all. Alcohol rapidly raises blood sugar and contributes to fatty liver, one of the hallmarks of diabetic metabolic dysfunction. If an alcoholic drink is something you really enjoy, instead of carb loaded, sugary beverages, opt for vodka or tequila with soda water with a lime or splash of cranberry. Just have one if possible.
Move your body and use your muscles. Insulin resistance starts in the large skeletal muscles when they’re not being used for long periods of time. If you’re logging a lot of sedentary time working at a desk, watching TV, or driving, try to take some movement breaks. Get up regularly and run up and down the stairs, do some squats or pushups, or sun salutations. Moving throughout the day is key, not just one workout followed by hours of sloth. Keep those muscles active and taking in glucose!
CAUTION: If you are currently on hyperglycemic medication of any kind, let your doctor knowbefore you start making these changes. Your need for medication can reduce dramatically within days, and we don’t want to risk hypoglycemic episodes.
If you just followed these basics, you’d make wonderful progress. You’d lose weight, have better blood markers, and feel more energetic. Next time, I’ll expand on these strategies a bit, including some helpful supplements.
I want to apologize if my last post about what sugar does to the body was a bummer. If you felt that way, just know that I totally agree. Most of us grew up eating lots of sugar, believing that the worst it could do is give us cavities. It was a treat we enjoyed all during our formative years and it’s deeply embedded in our psyches. It was a reward, a comfort, and is associated with wonderful memories. So the thought of breaking up with sugar is especially rough because there’s an emotional and physical component to it. Sugar and I have parted ways several times, and I know how depressing it can feel at first.
But! After you get over that, you feel SO much better! No addictions, better energy, more emotionally even, clarity of mind, weight loss, less puffy… the list goes on.
In addition to those tangible benefits, your risk for all the major chronic diseases goes down. So, even though it may feel impossible, sad, and extreme, it’s worth the effort. If you’re not willing to ghost your sugar completely, just reducing your intake is fantastic too.
How to Reduce Sugar Cravings
As you reduce/eliminate sugar, cravings are sure to rear their ugly head. The good news is that they go away almost completely in as little as a week. You almost can’t even believe that you were so addicted to the stuff. Until you get there, here are some of my favorite methods for avoiding and dealing with cravings:
Stay hydrated – start your day with a couple big glasses of water and sip it every half hour for the rest of the day. Dehydration makes you feel depleted, and more likely to grab any quick energy fix.
Eat protein rich meals. This is filling and increases satiety.
Be sure to have regular meals – getting hangry is a recipe for disaster.
As you transition, enjoy some whole food,natural sweeteners in moderation – like raw honey, pure maple syrup, raisins, figs, or dates.
Eat sweet potatoes and other sweet vegetables. Soon these will taste really sweet!
Experiment with spices like coriander, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and cardamom. Cinnamon has been shown to stabilize blood sugar.
Slow down and find sweetness in non-food ways. Despite what we learned growing up, a treat does not = sugar! Sugar is certainly not a treat for your body.
Move in some way – take a walk, dance around, do some pushups, jumping jacks, or a few sun salutations. It’s energizing on its own and distracts you from the craving.
Brush your teeth. When your mouth feels refreshed, subconsciously you don’t want to muck it up with all that sugar.
Reduce strong yang foods and beverages like animal protein and coffee, because they increase cravings for yin foods like sugar and alcohol as the body tries to rebalance energetically.
In the midst of a full fledged craving, drink a glass of water. If it’s still there, eat a nice refreshing apple. If it’s still there, have a protein smoothie. If it’s still there, take a nap if possible. Lastly, the craving will usually go away in less than 20 minutes, so waiting it out is an option too.
I’d love to hear how these suggestions work for you and also what tips you have used successfully that aren’t on my list!
I’ve always loved Halloween, but this year seeing the Halloween decorations actually filled me with dread*. Halloween is supposed to be pretend scary, but it does have a truly sinister side that harms people and causes a great deal of suffering.
The real monster is the sugar.
If it were just during Halloween, we would surely survive. However, our sugar problem is more like 24/7/365. Our taste buds have adapted and now we “need” a certain level of sweetness regularly to feel satisfied.
Our taste buds aren’t the only thing that have adapted. Sugar affects every cell, organ, hormone, and tissue in our bodies. Here’s the short and not-so-sweet progression of what happens when we eat our body weight in sugar every year:
First the pancreas obliges by churning out more insulin to get that sugar into the cells.
Once sugar intake is chronic, the pancreas gets in the habit of churning out high insulin all the time.
Our cells get inflamed from all the sugar being forced into them by the insulin, and they don’t work as well as they should.
Insulin stays consistently high, which inhibits fat burning, and we become resistant to fat loss.
Eventually, we have way too much blood sugar regardless, and the liver starts packaging it into fats called triglycerides, which then deposit not only in fat cells, but also in the liver, the muscles, and even the pancreas. This is toxic, inflammatory visceral fat, which often takes the form of a beer gut.
Then our cells start resisting insulin, causing blood sugar to stay high, where it damages our blood vessels.
Plaques form in the blood vessels causing hardening of the arteries, blood pressure rises, and the eyes and kidneys show early signs of damage.
If you’re getting bummed out, just skip to the last bullet point.
Since we can’t get the sugar into the cells because they’re now resisting insulin, we don’t have the fuel to create cellular energy. On top of that, the high insulin shut off fat burning. So we have a plethora of fuel, but our cells can’t burn it. Sugar and fat end up where they don’t belong. We’re exhausted.
Our sex hormones even get whacked out on all the sugar. Men grow “moobs” and women grow facial hair. Libido is a thing of the past.
The immune system is suppressed and we get sick a lot.
Our risk of every health horror imaginable goes way up.
We gain weight. We feel tired and old.
We think this is just “getting old”, but it’s all accelerated by the SUGAR!
This process is reaching epic proportions in the US and around the world. More than half of the adult population has prediabetes or diabetes. Even scarier, Type 2 diabetes diagnoses in kids is skyrocketing.
This scary story can have a happy ending. The great news is that it’s all reversible, even entrenched cases of diabetes. It’s in your power! So don’t worry. Instead, get motivated!
To summarize – if you’re tired, unable to lose weight, having health and hormone issues, aging fast… maybe it’s the sugar. I wish this were all “pretend scary” like the rest of Halloween, but hopefully it’s made you more aware of how insidious and far reaching our collective sugar addiction is.
Last week, I listened to a raisin. Sounds crazy, right? But don’t worry, I wasn’t hearing voices or having a conversation with the raisin. I listened to the raisin as part of a mindful eating exercise in the MBSR (Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction) course I’m currently taking.
Have you ever done a mindful eating exercise? If not, I highly recommend it. It’s so surprising what you notice when you slow down and engage all of your senses in the act of eating. You notice flavors, textures, sensations, and yes, even sounds. We rolled the raisin between our fingers near our ears and did actually hear a small sound.
Mindful eating isn’t just for entertainment though. It has very real benefits.
You chew and digest your food much better. If you have digestive issues of any kind, even something as simple as bloating, try eating all of your meals mindfully for a few days and I can almost guarantee that you’ll notice improvement. Better digestion further improves nutritional status – you’ll absorb more of the nutrients in all that healthy food you eat.
Because you slow down, you appreciate your food more, instead of just throwing it down the hatch barely noticing all the complex flavors. So you’re actually satisfied and not scavenging all day and night to get that satisfaction.
You eat a lot less. Because you’re slowing down, your body has a chance to register signals of fullness and satiety, and you actually notice them. This is a natural, easy, enjoyable way to lose weight.
And lastly, but not leastly, you feel more peaceful and centered. Multitasking of any sort including eating while driving, working, reading, watching TV, etc is subtly stressful. I never realized that until I had a mindful meal. I felt so relaxed after my mindful meal, that now I notice how shoveling food in while doing something else is agitating.
When you eat mindfully, you don’t need to go to extremes and listen to your food. It can be as simple as – “When eating, eat” – aka not doing anything else while eating. Slowing down and noticing the flavors, chewing well, pausing between bites, and checking in with your belly sensations several times during the meal. If you’d like more guidance, check out the Center for Mindful Eating’s resources.
I used to think that everyone naturally gets healthy and fit in the summer because of all the juicy fresh produce, more outdoor activities, and the tendency to eat a little less when you’re in a bathing suit. Well, maybe that was true when we were in our twenties, but beginning in our forties, it seems that a new pattern emerges. It’s called “summer is the new holidays”. Dun, dun, dunnnnnnn.
Our quintessential summer vacations, bbq’s, picnics, fried beach food, and ice cream stands are no longer fully counterbalanced by healthier summer habits. I know this is a common problem because of all the emails I predictably receive in September from previous cleansers eager to start the fall cleanse immediately!
I’m just going to come out and say it – this is wrong! I’ve long been a proponent that you can live a totally fun life and be healthy and fit. Those two things are not mutually exclusive. It’s about balance, quality, and mindset (aka not totally giving up and ditching your healthy habits just because you downed a Kimball’s-sized ice cream sundae).
So here’s what I’m doing about it… I want to support you in both having an epic summer and feeling energetic, thinner peace, and healthy going into the fall. This well rounded program includes highly effective tenets near and dear to my heart – variety, flexibility, super efficient forms of exercise, exceptionally nutritious food, and self care. It won’t be hard to work the cleanse guidelines into your schedule. Nothing is off limits. You won’t be dieting. Instead, you’ll be having a wonderful summer while staying balanced, and hopefully even feeling better than ever when fall hits.
When you join the program, you’ll get:
A short eBook with the full, easy to implement plan (so you’ll still have time to read all your novels this summer)
A weekly checklist so you can easily keep track of your Summer Party Cleanse activities
Lots of wonderful recipes perfect for the summer and even parties
A weekly email with inspiration, more ideas, and recipes of the week
Membership into our private Facebook group so we can all chat, share
tips, and encourage each other (this is permanent, like Hotel
Because this is the first time I’m offering this, I’m also pricing it super low to get as much participation and feedback as possible. I may get some flack for this, but here it is… I invite you to join the Summer Party Cleanse for just $25. Not because it’s not valuable, but because I want it to be a no-brainer for you to join me. The 8-week program begins July 7th (and your eBook will arrive June 30th). Join here!
Spring is when the body is primed and ready to clear out toxins, stagnation, sludge, excess weight, and inflammation, according to Ayurveda. Come spring, many of us are so ready for this. I know I am!
We can help that natural cleansing process along with a multifaceted cleanse. But it’s more common to turn to diets to spur along spring weight loss. There’s a big difference between diets and cleanses. Although diets can help you lose weight, they aren’t the best strategy, as research consistently shows. In a diet, the goal is to lose weight at any cost, usually through some variation of calorie deprivation and exercise intensification – the classic calories in vs calories out approach that relies on sheer willpower. Although calories do matter on one level, there are several other important factors that diets usually ignore – such as detoxification, oxidative stress, nutrient density, food sensitivities, stress, and how and why we eat. Aggressive weight loss without attention to these areas is not only an uphill battle, but likely to increase inflammation and initiate a vicious and frustrating weight loss cycle. Which, as we know, is very common.
If you want to lose winter padding, boost your natural spring cleansing power, and get healthier along the way, be sure your spring strategy more holistically addresses these concerns:
Detoxification. Whenever you lose weight, toxins are released from the fat cells, where they are commonly stored. If you don’t have abundant nutrient support (such as sulfur containing veggies, antioxidants, fiber, minerals, b vitamins, etc), toxins will not get excreted from the body. Instead, they get pulled out of the cells and recirculated through the body, where they cause more damage and make you feel terrible. Supporting detoxification along with any weight loss is vital. In its wisdom, the body may actually resist fat loss in an attempt to keep toxins in the fat cells where they do the least damage. Getting them out of the body in a safe effective way will help with successful long term weight maintenance, energy, and overall health.
Nourishment. This brings us to nutrient density. Whole, unprocessed plant foods offer tens of thousands of phytonutrients, antioxidants, and fiber, all of which are your best friend for losing weight and cleansing toxins. Phytonutrients reduce inflammation and free radical damage, support detoxification, and help your body actually repair itself. The fiber keeps you regular, so that you can most efficiently excrete the toxins that made their way to the intestines. Constipation doesn’t feel good for many reasons, toxicity being one of them. You can lose weight eating highly processed diet wafers, bars, and shakes, but these don’t offer the array of healing nutrients that whole plant foods do. Do yourself a million favors by centering your diet on abundant fresh, colorful veggies.
Food sensitivities. Another hidden factor in stubborn weight is food sensitivities. When we regularly eat foods our bodies don’t like, we set up an inflammatory dynamic that causes all manner of annoyances like eczema, arthritis, psoriasis, fatigue, and – you guessed it – stubborn weight. Uncovering your food sensitivities is vital for overall health and thinner peace. At the top of the list are gluten and dairy. Try avoiding those for a few weeks and see what happens!
Stress. No discussion of weight loss would be complete without addressing stress. When you are stressed for sustained periods of time, your body is going to hang on to every calorie for dear life. Not only that, but stress often results in emotional eating. Furthermore, stress diverts energy away from digestive organs (because who needs to digest your meal, when you’re being chased by a tiger and about to become a meal?), so you don’t digest well. Maldigestion/malabsorption paves the way for nutrient deficiencies, which can suppress the thyroid, which slows your metabolism, and things just keep getting uglier. Meditation, deep breathing, yoga, exercise, laughter, and mindful eating are all excellent ways to reduce stress.
Sustainability. The plan you use to achieve your desired wellness and weight should be something you can sustain long term and even enjoy. If not, you’re likely to revert pretty quickly to old habits. And that’s not good for the body or mood.
I hope it’s obvious that weight loss is much more complex than the simple calories in – calories out equation. And also that weight loss without concern for nutrient density will ultimately be damaging and keep you in the vicious weight loss cycle.
If you’ve been struggling with stubborn weight and feeling like you have no will power, please know that it is so much more than that. Processed food, toxins, stress, food sensitivities, and even our gut microbes strongly influence our cravings and stamina for making healthy changes.
This is why I included all of these vitally important areas in one comprehensive, life changing program called the Ultimate Rejuvenation Cleanse. It’s a gentle, supportive, 4-week, online program that optimizes your spring cleansing and detoxing. Your health will noticeably improve in several areas, and weight loss will be a natural by product. The spring cleanse begins April 14th. I hope you’ll join us! To learn more or join the cleanse, click here.
I hope you’re crushing those New Year’s Resolutions! Or moving towards your dreams in a way that makes you feel hopeful and happy. Progress, no matter how tentative, builds momentum and life force energy. There’s so much reward even in taking just one step forward.
If you’re looking for a little activation energy to get started on your wellness plan, this is where our goals intersect.
I LOVE helping people transform their health the natural and lasting way. I’ve dedicated decades of my life to learning how to do that through many disciplines, including traditional nutrition, holistic health coaching, functional medicine coaching, yoga, and yoga’s sister science Ayurveda. Then I poured the best combination of that knowledge and experience into The Ultimate Rejuvenation Cleanse.
It is a cleanse, and so much more. In this 28-day program, you’ll cleanse out toxins, sugar addiction, and inflammation. You’ll also infuse yourself with deeply nourishing foods, habits, self care, and perspective shifts. You’ll learn experientially which foods serve your unique body and which ones don’t.
All these gains will stick around, and propel you towards your goals even after the cleanse is done. This is not one of those one-dimensional, deprivation diets where you drop some pounds and gain it right back plus a few more. The goal of this program is multifaceted nourishment so your body heals, rejuvenates, and you reach your ideal weight almost as a side benefit.
Additionally, you’ll cultivate fantastic energy, glowing skin, mental clarity, and profound wellness. You’ll learn a lot, get excited and inspired, discover great new things, and have expert support.
The program follows a gentle, luxurious pace. Slow and steady wins the race! In the first seven days, we build a strong self care foundation before we make a single change to our diets. During the second week, we start to make a few dietary shifts towards whole, unprocessed food. The third week is the official full cleanse week, with plenty of delicious food and self care the whole time. Finally, the fourth week is when we test for food sensitivities. Often it’s those hidden sensitivities that cause pesky health issues like low energy, weight gain, brain fog, sinus and skin issues, digestive woes, etc. This is a major key to well-being that most people miss.
You’ll get a content rich, inspiring email every morning, a 200+ page eBook with everything you need to know about the cleanse plus lots of bonuses, 150+ delicious cleanse friendly recipes, a Quick Start Guide that cuts to the chase, a private Facebook group to chat with me and other cleansers, a few optional live events including 2 conference calls, a shopping trip, and celebration dinner (if you’re local).
If this sounds like the perfect program for you right now, let’s take that step forward together – join the cleanse today! We can also stay connected on Facebook.
In the relentless pressure to be thin, many men and women turn to programs and products that promise rapid weight loss. Even though by now, we all know that the process will not be pleasant, it may not be healthy, and any weight loss will probably be temporary.
But this will be the LAST TIME, right?
After years and years, and millions of confirmations of this truth, maybe we should stop the pushing that boulder up the mountain over and over again (unless it’s part of our workout), and take a more permanent approach. To be effective, we need to get to the root cause of the weight issues, not just put a temporary Band Aid on it, like we so often do in our society.
When we have been struggling for so long, trying a million things, reading a million blogs and books, we can lose our ability to see clearly and start focusing on wacky things.
Maybe it’s not those red apples or bananas, but the late night choco-thon, as my friend Rona realized in one aha moment.
Possibly you don’t need to add yet another punishing workout to your schedule, but learn to relax more. Cortisol throws a huge monkey wrench in our weight loss efforts.
Perhaps more than WHAT you’re eating, WHY you’re eating is the real problem. Stress, procrastination, boredom? We need to learn better ways of dealing with those things.
Of course, most of us could stand to clean up our diets a bit – eat more veggies, drink more water, have less sugar, gluten, and simple carbs, chew better, eat in a more relaxed way, spend a few hours not eating between meals, detox, … etc. All of that makes a big difference, especially when addressed in conjunction with lifestyle choices. That’s exactly what we do in our cleanse. We shine a light on all of these aspects, so they work synergistically to give you better, healthier, and more long term results than just starving yourself and doing P90X three times a day. Which, incidentally, can stress out your body and make it even harder to lose weight.
In the functional medicine world, we flip the usual viewpoint upside down. Instead of focusing solely on weight loss, we see weight loss as a natural side benefit of getting healthier. Maybe this is the year to get off that torturous, ineffective hamster wheel and focus on the best way to nourish, care for, and love ourselves, and find our ideal weight the real way. The more pleasant way. The permanent way. Try our cleanse this year… you’ll be so glad you did. Wishing you so much amazingness in 2019!
George Bernard Shaw said that progress is impossible without change. Although we’re all for progress, we tend to avoid change. Mostly because we’re such creatures of habit and our comfort zones are so darn comfy!
Yet change is inevitable*. Day in and day out, we are all morphing – physically, mentally, and emotionally. Although we can’t stop this process, we can direct it.
In most cases, it’s not bad luck or bad genes that cause us to feel suboptimal, it’s how we choose to feed and care for ourselves. If we want a different experience, we have to try something different. Although trying new things can be uncomfortable at first, it’s empowering to experience how much our habitual choices affect our life experience. It’s so worth the effort.
In our gentle, 4-week cleanse – we help you to try fabulous new things and upgrade your habits so you feel better fast, and then even better over time. (Why go through the trouble for just short term benefit?) We’d love to help you create powerful, lasting change in 2019! The New Year cleanse begins on January 20th! If you’re on our mailing list, we’ll let you know when registration opens up on January 1st.