Break Your Sugar Addiction [REPLAY]

April 11, 2022

Do you find it hard to quit eating sugar? Most of us know that sugar is not good for us, but sometimes it feels like our cravings get the best of us! In this show, we’ll discuss the biological drivers of food cravings and what triggers the brain’s alarm system that leads to hunger and cravings. From a nutritionist and dietitian standpoint, we’ll cover compelling reasons to not eat sugar, share the lifestyle and eating habits that support sugar sobriety, and help you prepare your brain and body to not crave sugar.

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MELANIE: Good morning and welcome to Dishing Up Nutrition brought to you by Nutritional Weight and Wellness. So today we're going to talk about addiction. Yes, you are tuned in to Dishing Up Nutrition, but here's a little history to start our show. The Dutch East India company was founded in 1602 and introduced three powerful drugs into the market. All right, I'm going to let you think about it for a minute. It was tobacco, opium; wait for it: sugar. Surprised?

I am glad you tuned in today because Jolene and I are excited to share our thoughts and recommendations about how to overcome sugar addictions. I'm Melanie Beasley. I'm a Registered and Licensed Dietitian, and I have worked with a variety of clients for over 30 years. I can't believe it when I say that. Joining me today as our co-host is Jolene Carlson, a Licensed Nutritionist who has lost over 100 pounds and kept it off for many, many years. You are my rockstar hero.

JOLENE: Thanks, Mel.

MELANIE: Let me start with a cold, hard statement I heard an addiction counselor give a drug addict who said he wanted to stop using drugs. Here is the addiction counselor's advice to the drug addict: “If you want to use drugs, if you don't want to use drugs, don't use drugs and you will be not be addicted to drugs.” I don't know. I think he may have simplified it a little, a little harsh, but I believe as a dietitian or nutritionist, we might say, if you don't want to eat sugar or to overcome sugar addiction, don't eat sugar. That's a hard but simple solution. But we're going to go even further because we all know if you've ever had a sugar addiction, it's complex. It's a beast of burden, right? We also help clients prepare their brain and body not to crave sugar. But the bottom line is you do need a compelling reason to not eat sugar.

What is your compelling reason to not eat sugar?


So I'm asking you listeners, what is your compelling reason? I personally have my own reason. In the past I had breast cancer and the research clearly tells me sugar feeds cancer. Obviously, I don't want cancer back. So I don't eat sugar and processed carbs. I have a reason. I put it in front of me. So my question to you is what is your compelling reason to not eat sugar? Hopefully some of you aren't, you know, doing the little question emoji, like, I don't know if I have a reason. So think about that for a minute. I have clients write down their reason and take a picture of it with their phone and then save it as their screen saver. So that every time when you pick up your phone, you see that reason before you. How many times do we check our phone, Jolene? What's your compelling reason to say no to sugar?

JOLENE: Yeah. I love that advice, Mel, of putting it on your phone because that is something that we all look at every day. You know, I've done the refrigerator, I've done the candy drawer, I've done the pantry, but I would love to try the phone option too. I have many compelling reasons in a 25-year struggle with sugar addiction. But before I share that, I just want to just tell everybody that doesn't know that Mel and I have never met in person. So this is just such a treat to be together in the studio this morning.

MELANIE: It is so fun.

JOLENE: It is so great to be with you, Mel. And I also just want to start with a statement or maybe a disclaimer that I am not an expert on overcoming sugar addiction. However, I can probably say I'm an expert on learning how to work on overcoming sugar addiction.

MELANIE: I love that. I think we're always in process.

JOLENE: Right.

MELANIE: Always on the struggle.

JOLENE: And you just learn, you just have to learn, earn different tools and different things and, you know, stick with your compelling reason. And we'll talk about some of the things that we can do to help this process, because it is a process.

MELANIE: And I think that you are probably more of an expert than you give yourself credit. You have a lot of tools in your toolbox, which is evidenced by the fact that you're keeping your weight down.

JOLENE: Yeah. I, I suppose we can say that. I, I don't feel like an expert, but I do work on it very hard and I have to work on it very hard. Thanks for that, Mel. So here's a, I'm going to share a compelling reason from a client because this is a real thing for a lot of people.

So I have a client that struggles with colitis and, and that is an inflammation of the digestive tract. So as you can imagine, if your digestive tract is inflamed, lots of things can go wrong, especially in the whole bowel movement department. And so this person realized that if she even ate just a little bit of sugar, that she would have chronic diarrhea and that in itself is just awful for planning your day. You can't go anywhere. You always have to try to be close to a bathroom. You might not want to leave home.

MELANIE: It's very life disruptive.

JOLENE: Of course. Yeah. So for her, she knew that when she didn’t eat sugar, she felt well, she had regular bowel movements and she could just live her life the way she wanted. And so that's a compelling reason; live life the way you want to, without sugar, or have a little bit of sugar and have a very disruptive life.

MELANIE: It depends on your, it definitely depends on your chemistry, right?

JOLENE: Absolutely. Yep. And everybody is individual. And, and so she was able to figure that out and realize that that sugar, even in a little, for, even in a little amount, was a trigger for her. As dietitians and nutritionists, it is our job to help people figure out what sugar is maybe doing for them and then help determine what that can compelling reason might be. And drawing kind of that line in the sand with sugar. This kind of like a hard or tough love episode.


JOLENE: Yeah. You know, and it's like, we don't ever really want to tell people don't do something ever, but for some people, sugar can truly be a problem, even in a little amount. And that's what we're here to talk about today is to help you with that.

MELANIE: That's great. You know, and I think, you know, circling back to the addiction, you know, that I mentioned; opium, tobacco, alcohol, you would never say have a little, and, and then be aware that you're going to have cravings for that drug. I mean, that's just not the approach. Well, as long as we're sharing client's stories, Jolene, Dishing Up Nutrition has a longtime friend and listener who has a long history of making caramels for holiday treats. Is there any food higher in sugar than caramel?

Well, she thinks or tells others that the caramels that she is making are for friends and family. Well, I don't know about you Jolene, but whenever I have that justification in my head, it's because if I'm going to make cookies or something for friends and family, it's because I want them myself and I want the dough. And I want the whole experience of eating the warm cookie when it comes out of the oven.

So why should she be saying no to sugar and especially to these sugar-ladened caramels? Well, she has had a bad back, a post-polio condition and sugar increases inflammation and pain. It would seem if she understood that relationship, that sugar increases her pain, she would then stop indulging in those caramels and the sugar that's, you know, the carrier in those. But that knowledge is soon forgotten when she wraps each caramel in wax paper or unwraps a caramel and just has one because that launches us, doesn't it?

JOLENE: Absolutely.

MELANIE: She knows the connection, but she's still addicted to sugar. She yet is able to apply that self-care commitment. And it is really hard when you have a client and you know it's hurting them; really, really hard, but you just constantly work with them to try to find that switch where they can turn off that craving. But sometimes a sugar addiction can be so overpowering. So we're always in process. It's definitely, it's not your character. It is chemistry. So we want to talk today about the chemistry of sugar addiction and some tools.

JOLENE: Yeah, absolutely. And that's just such a great story. And, and also when people are able to make that connection of how sugar damages them, and that's kind of what our job is, is to help people understand that, then it's a little bit easier to find that compelling reason. And if I had to start with a first step, it would be to find that compelling reason. It's different for everybody, but it really does need to be something that's compelling. I sometimes also call this your why. Okay. And it needs to be a very deep strong why because you're fighting an addiction.


JOLENE: And, and so that compelling reason has to kind of overpower that. And it's also important to know that it's never a one and done solution. If it was, we wouldn't have addictions. This would be easy.

MELANIE: Exactly.

JOLENE: But it's not. And then the other big part with finding that why is it takes a tribe always, right? So having support in whatever way works for people. And that's another thing that we help people with, you know, whether it's education or the one-on-one counseling, classes, support groups, Facebook groups, whatever we can find to help us stay on track is so, so important.

MELANIE: And, you know, Jolene the that also helps us stay on track. Because we are made of flesh and bone. And definitely the more we talk about it with our clients, the more it shores up our resilience, because we understand; we don't judge. Sugar addiction is a thing, and that has to be thoroughly addressed and you have to come up with a plan.

So we believe the first step to overcome sugar addiction is to make a personal commitment to your health. With this personal desire, it's almost impossible to stay off sugar without that personal desire. It's very difficult. We have to come up with a plan and keep it before us all the time. So it's ready for our next break. You are listening to Dishing Up Nutrition brought to you by Nutritional Weight and Wellness.

We are officially in the month of heart health and Valentine’s Day, two of my favorite celebrations. Next Tuesday, February 8th, Marianne, our culinary nutrition educator kicks off heart health with teaching us all about heart healthy meals. Join her by Zoom on February 8th at 6:00 PM. Great information and very entertaining. Questions, please call to sign up (651) 699-3438. We'll be right back.

Cooking Classes


JOLENE: Welcome back to Dishing Up Nutrition. Marianne will be doing a repeat performance, Cooking Heart Healthy Meals, on February 10th at 12:00 PM; a great lunch break educational class for you. Cooking Heart Healthy Meals is all about cooking delicious heart healthy meals and snacks. They'll discuss foods that can help with cholesterol, blood pressure and vascular health. Like the good fats in salmon, healthy compounds in garlic and polyphenol-rich fruits and veggies that give our heart the fuel it needs to keep us moving. Sounds delicious. Invite your families and friends to learn about how to cook real heart healthy meals. Call us at (651) 699-3438 to reserve your spot.

MELANIE: Yeah, those are, I hear from clients, “Oh, I took that class. I took this class”; the cooking classes and they love them. They're fun.

JOLENE: It is fun. And it's just so nice that you can do, like, you can actually cook with her in your own kitchen as you're watching it via Zoom. I mean, what's better than that?

MELANIE: I'm probably, you're probably, I mean, I know you're younger than me, but I can remember they used to have those on television for housewives.

JOLENE: Right. You know? Right. Yeah, exactly. And so yeah, you can be like, what am I going to have for dinner tonight and attend the noon class and be like, I'll whatever we make in class that's dinner.

MELANIE: Perfect. Yep. Well, we were talking about of course sugar addiction. And another point I want to make of think of it this way. If you have high blood pressure, you're told don't just stop taking your medication, right? Just like sugar addiction, you have to stay with the program day in and day out. I find it is a continual practice. I don't want to feed sugar it to any cancer cells. So I have that personal commitment; not because I'm so strong, you know, I, you could say it comes from a place of fear. I, I don't want to go through that again, but for each one of us, it's going to take focus. It's going to take practice and it's going to be, find your why. Like you said, Jolene. I love that. I'm going to use it.

JOLENE: And yeah, I mean, there's probably not much more of a powerful why than not wanting to have cancer back. I mean, that is, that is a huge, huge why. And that's what works for you. As nutritionists, dietitians, there are certain lifestyles that we talk about and eating habits that can support your sugar sobriety. And so it's our job to teach clients about these. So let's start with an important habit and I'm going to use Dr. David Ludwig, author of Always Hungry to kind of describe this.

He said, “Disordered eating is commonly treated as a psychological problem of poor impulse control. For this reason treatment typically involves behavioral therapy with a goal to avoid triggering situations or reducing exposure to your danger foods like sugar. And then we develop alternative coping strategies.” Which we've heard over and over again, right Mel? Like just don't eat it. You know, you just got to be strong enough. Just avoid it.


JOLENE: And that certainly is a piece of the puzzle, but what we're going to talk about and, and address is that this typically fails, as we all know, we have, have tried these strategies because it doesn't take in count the other big piece of the puzzle and that's the biological drivers of food cravings. So let me just say this intentionally and slowly: sugar addiction is not just about willpower. It is about biology.

MELANIE: Perfect. Exactly. And that is so many clients that I get. I'm sure you do. They are beating themselves up and they almost whisper when they say, “I'm really addicted to sugar.” And I just want to say you are in great company when you're in a crowd. Look to the left and look to the right because it is very, very addictive and that's chemistry.

JOLENE: Absolutely.

Biological driver for sugar cravings #1: low blood sugar


MELANIE: Well, let's talk about the first biological driver for sugar cravings and addiction. I do like what Dr. Ludwig wrote because it is what we teach clients over and over in our Dishing Up Nutrition and in our classes and counseling sessions. The first reason to have sugar cravings is to low blood sugar from skipping meals or eating too many processed carbs. Dr. Ludwig explained it this way. He said “Excessive insulin levels from highly processed carbohydrates cause fat cells to suck up too many calories, leaving too few calories in the right places. When the bloodstream runs low on calories, the brain triggers an alarm system leading to hunger and cravings.”

JOLENE: Oh, that's just so powerful. I just, I just say that a little bit, you know, in a, in a paraphrase is that your brain is actually starving, even though we're eating all the time.

MELANIE: Even though we're eating all this time because they're usher, it's being ushered into fat cells.


MELANIE: Well we crave highly processed carbs chips, cookies, crackers, candy, cake, and the like for one, and I'm going to put in bread in there, for one simple reason: they make us feel better within minutes. The problem is they also make us feel worse for hours afterwards, setting up that addictive cycle. I like this statement: In a sense, highly processed carbs are akin to drugs of abuse. Those fast absorption rates increase addictiveness. Sugar and processed carbs are addictive to many, many people. In fact when researchers surveyed 9,400 people, 82% were considered addicted or overusing sugar.

JOLENE: 82%.

MELANIE: Again, we're not alone. Right?


MELANIE: You're not alone. It's a very powerful drug. You're not alone. But what is your reason to overcome your sugar addiction? My reason is to remain cancer free. Just because 82% of people are addicted to sugar, I don't have to be because I have a very compelling self-care reason and plan not to eat that sugar.

So I want to, I want to remain cancer free. Yes. But I also, I want to feel better in this, this journey; less pain. I have less mood swings, frankly. I'm just a nicer woman. And when I have had a little sugar, I'll tell you what Jolene, I will wake up, get out of bed and I can feel the bottoms of my feet hurt.

JOLENE: Oh, wow. It's that immediate for you?

MELANIE: It's the next day I can feel it. My joints, I feel like an old woman going up and down the stairs with my knees. It's it is ridiculous. And I think I'm so good. I just had a little on Christmas.

JOLENE: What a powerful thing though. I mean, that's really powerful that you can see those differences and I will attest that you are a very pleasant person. So you must not have had any sugar today.

MELANIE: I didn't. Thank you. Or last night.

JOLENE: Very nice. Very nice. Yeah. There's so many stories like that. And that is also, I love that when you can start to see what sugar is doing to you, that does help feed your compelling reason.


JOLENE: You know, so all those reasons we need to stick to our why: those are going to be the positive feedbacks that we get, which is so, so important.

MELANIE: But we also don't want people to feel like they just have to completely white knuckle it. Because it's a fail. Right? We have more willpower for a while we white knuckle it. We feel pretty good about ourselves. And then we cave. It could be could be a bad day. I like the term halt. You know, when you start craving for sugar or reaching for something, are you hungry? Are you angry? Are you lonely? Or are you tired?

JOLENE: Right.

MELANIE: And so that's when you need a plan and someone to help you so that you can be basically come up with what are your triggers and then how do we problem solve it? Rather than just slapping your hand, say, I can't believe you had sugar it's information in a clinical setting to say what happened beforehand? What happened that day. And that's kind of what we do.

JOLENE: And that just gives you that pause that sometimes we need to break that chemical reaction happening in your brain saying, eat sugar, eat sugar, eat sugar. When we come back we'll talk about some of the foods that we can do to help with this addiction.

MELANIE: I love it. So you are listening to Dishing Up Nutrition. One of our nutrition educators eats sardines several times a week for her omega three fatty acids, which is nice. It's not always for me. I take three Omega-3 1000 milligram fish oil softgel supplements per day for my omega three fatty acids. If I miss it, I get dry skin bumps.

You can eat sardines or omega three softgels. Research currently tells us that 98% of adults in a study were deficient in omega three fatty acids. Wow. People are not eating their sardines like their grandfather did. We'll be right back.


JOLENE: Welcome back to Dishing Up Nutrition. Omega-3 fatty acid is an essential fatty acid and is critical for heart health and brain health. And it also helps reduce inflammation. To celebrate heart health month in February, we are offering all of our omega three fatty acid supplements at a 15% discount. You'll find that our omega threes do not taste fishy and are burp free because quality matters.

Nutrition tips to avoid cravings


Well, Mel, before break, we were talking about, you know, that it's, it's an ongoing process to try to figure out the sugar addiction. So now I want to kind of give the audience some tips, you know, like nutrition tips, some things that we do try to feed the brain to avoid those cravings. Cause if a well-nourished brain typically will allow for us to curb those cravings and then be less likely to give into the sugar. So some of the two big key macros are proteins and fats. Your brain just loves these. It's the best way to get full function of your brain. So when you start to think that cravings are creeping in, or they might be increasing, that might be a good place to start. Am I need enough protein? Am I need enough fat? Those can kind of help us, or if a craving does kick in, you can try to eat a protein and a fat when you take that pause and think about why am I having a craving and see if that helps curb it.

I have a very, very sensitive blood sugar. I mean, I'm insulin resistant, hence why I was so heavy in my twenties and something I've worked on for the past 25 years. And I, I know that there's a very, very specific amount of carbohydrates or sugars that I can tolerate before I start to feel bad. And I also know that if I do give into sugar cravings, that it isn't just one for me. So for me, if I said, you know, I deserve that cupcake, which we talked about this Mel. But for me it's like the frosting. That's what I crave. It's like straight up pure sugar is what I crave if I have cravings.

MELANIE: I mean, I feel like a, you know, a cupcake without frosting is basically a muffin and that's the point.

JOLENE: Yeah. I feel like the cupcake, the actual cake part is just really a vehicle for the frosting to enter my mouth.

MELANIE: Exactly how I was too.

JOLENE: Yes, exactly. And so sometimes I just have to kind of pay attention to what I'm eating, because I, I know in my head and logically that if I do get those cupcake cravings or pure sugar cravings is probably because I'm malnourished with the fats or the proteins.

MELANIE: Exactly.

JOLENE: Right. And so then I kind of have to think back, well, what did I eat? And did I eat enough? And so a little tip for all of you out there is just maybe start writing down or putting in your phone what you are having. And then it be an easy way to look back when you have cravings and do take that moment to be like, “Why am I having this craving?”

And then look at like your past 24 hours or earlier in the day, what you were eating and see, you know, did I have protein? Did I have fat? Was it enough?” And that might be a good way to be more proactive about minimizing the cravings, understanding why they're happening. None of us do a good job of food recalls you know.

MELANIE: We got to write it down.

JOLENE: Yeah. We’ve got to write down. You ask somebody what they had in the last 24 hours and it's probably never a hundred percent correct. And, and that's okay. We don't need to remember everything that happened in the past. We're just trying to focus on what snacks, but that's why writing it down is such a great tip. And the more you understand about how your body reacts to foods, or if you're getting adequate nutrition, the more you can change and prevent that addictive pattern of eating. Because now you're in charge of your biochemistry and you're in charge of the emotions and you understand that connection. And education is powerful and is powerful to help you again, go back to finding that compelling why.

MELANIE: Yeah. I feel very much like our appointments with our clients is really the study of you.

JOLENE: Exactly.

MELANIE: It's the study of you. What, how does your body respond? How, how do you feel when you eat this? How do you feel when you eat that? What is the best way to offset pain, inflammation and cravings. So, and then we come up with a, a problem-solving plan to help you. I mean, that's what we do. You have to understand yourself like you do, Jolene, in order to understand what is the choice? I like an emergency, a red flag, red alarm kit of beef sticks on hand at all times.

So when you have that craving eat a beef stick and then you can calmly reevaluate. Now, how do I feel? Do I need another sugar serving? Do I need to go get in the pantry? Or do I feel satiated?

JOLENE: Mm-Hmm. Yeah. It's almost like you train off that alarm in your brain.


JOLENE: It's like this noisy alarm of sugar, sugar, sugar. You just need to kind of shut off, put it on snooze for a little bit.


JOLENE: And give yourself time with that protein. I do nuts. Like I always have nuts with me everywhere I go. And that's kind of my take a moment food to evaluate what's going on. That's great advice.

MELANIE: So good Jolene. Nothing better than feeling like you're the boss of the food and the food is not the boss of you.

JOLENE: That's right. Nobody's the boss of me.

The dopamine connection to addiction


MELANIE: That's right. As I'm working with clients, I help them understand how to support their personal brain chemistry, which then supports their mood and their energy. I like to help them learn how to maximize those brain chemicals, particularly the neurotransmitter, dopamine. There are substances in our environment that are very addictive because they all affect our dopamine neurotransmitter level. These addictive substances are cocaine, alcohol and sugar. These addictive substances increase dopamine levels, very temporarily, making people feel great short term. So they're very addictive. But when the dopamine level crashes and you feel down, depressed, sad, exhausted, low blood sugar, you look for more cocaine, alcohol or sugar to get a dopamine high. And that's sort of the process of addiction. We tell clients excess sugar damages cells in our eyes as well. Excess sugar also damages the little membranes in your ears. Are you surprised?

So you know, I can remember when I worked in ministry and we served a meal on Wednesday nights and we had a group of drug, alcohol addicts that would come in; partake with us. And on those nights, it was once a month, I had to make sure that we had a lot of coffee, sugar and creamer because they were seeking a substitute for the alcohol and the drugs by plowing through the sugar, seeking that dopamine hit.

JOLENE: Yeah, absolutely. And it just, it just is such a good way to show how much of it is biochemistry. And I love to say it in the way too, to help people understand that your, your brain prefers fat as a feel. It just takes longer, which is why it's so beneficial for that to kind of show up. It's a longer lasting energy. And so your brain is literally saying if it's craving sugar or those quick carbohydrates, that's kind of your brain's way of saying it's starving. It's just starving for energy.

MELANIE: It's good. Right. That's good.

JOLENE: You know, and so to understand that there's actually biology happening is, is just such a great tool to then find a reason why you're having sugar cravings. Yeah. Dopamine, our, our happy neurotransmitter gives us energy, focus, concentration, positive moods. Who doesn't want more dopamine? That's why it feels so great, right?

MELANIE: Exactly.

How do we maintain good dopamine levels?


So the question is then how do I keep my dopamine at a good stable level all the time? Okay. And that goes back to those eating habits. So that animal protein, so proteins remember break down to amino acids and amino acid are kind of the building blocks of all these neurotransmitters, for example, L-tyrosine, which is one of the building blocks of dopamine also supports your thyroid in addition to your brain.

So that getting enough protein for whatever your needs are and on a regular basis is a great way to be proactive of retaining those dopamine levels all throughout the day. It's really about the science of feeding your neurotransmitters.

MELANIE: It is. And we do that in our gut. You know, people in our small intestine people, it's not in our, it's not in, in your brain. It's in your small intestine. So if you have poor digestive health, that's something else that needs to be working on so that you can make those neurotransmitters.

JOLENE: Are you saying Mel, that the body's a system and it's all connected?

MELANIE: Trying to, I'm trying to Jolene.

JOLENE: That's crazy. Crazy talk.

How does sleep affect blood sugar?


MELANIE: Well, let's look at sleep and how sleep affects blood sugar. Sleep not only how we feel, but blood sugar balance and cravings for sugar. So I want to share a couple of statements from the book, Why We Sleep written by Dr. Matthew Walker. I know Jolene, you said you love to listen to him.

JOLENE: Oh yes. Yeah. I listen to this book probably once a year, just to kind of be reminded of all the amazing and powerful things that sleep does for us.

MELANIE: Well, he said, “The less you sleep, the more you're likely to eat.” Additionally, he said, “Your body becomes unable to manage those calories effectively, especially the concentration of sugar in your blood.” He also said, “Sugar's a dangerous thing. Let me repeat that. He also said “Sugar is a dangerous thing. Excessive high levels of blood sugar or glucose over weeks or years inflict surprising harm to the tissues and the organs of your body and worsens your health and shortens your lifespan.” And I want to add it also increases your risk for memory issues.

JOLENE: Mm-Hmm. Yeah. That's where there's been some really great research on type three diabetes.


JOLENE: Right? So diabetes of the brain. So again, because the body is a system, blood sugar changes could affect us in so many ways and it could happen anywhere in your body. So things like dementia and Alzheimer's are being connected now to that excess sugar.

MELANIE: And I think that Alzheimer's is touching pretty much everybody.

JOLENE: It does. It does.

MELANIE: Somebody knows somebody or is related to somebody who struggles with this; horrible, horrible.

JOLENE: And it is such a horrible disease. And, and it's hard on families and what a powerful thing, or a powerful why, if you know that there is a connection and you can do something to maybe help prevent that with your food or with your sugar. That's powerful.

MELANIE: It is very powerful. So we have just a few minutes and then we're going to go to break, but I do want to just talk a little bit about making sure you're getting that adequate healthy fat that you mentioned for brain health because that was a really good, powerful statement. We need healthy fat for brain health.

You are listening to Dishing Up Nutrition. Recently, I read that 90%, yes, 90% of people in the U.S. are eating unhealthy foods. No doubt that's the reason for an increase in diabetes, heart disease, cancer, even COVID. We would like to offer you a better eating plan for long term health. And this plan is called Nutrition for Weight Loss. I love to teach this class to see people change, and it is so much more than just weight loss. It is a wellness plan with real food. We have a new session starting February 15th at 6:30 PM on Zoom. Even if you live in Duluth, Rochester, Boise, or Portland, you can join us. So sign up or call us at (651) 699-3438. I just want to say this class is so powerful for people. I've have had clients that have taken it three times because they learn something every time. So we will be right back.

Nutrition 4 Weight Loss program


JOLENE: Welcome back to Dishing Up Nutrition. Breaking the sugar addiction is not easy, but we have ongoing tested techniques to prepare and support you. We encourage you to continue to listen to the podcast and, or go and review other podcasts. You can find on our website and please write a review. Let us know what you think. We appreciate any questions or feedback and share it with a friend. We want to know your story, or especially your stories about sugar addiction. I can say that I didn't weigh over 350 pounds by eating vegetables. For me, it was bread, pasta, cereal, and once again, frosting that were the biggest culprits for my weight gain.

MELANIE: And, you know, women are wise, you know, I love to talk to women in, in the clinic; men too, but we primarily see a lot of women. And I'll ask them why do you think your blood sugars haven't come to? Why do you think? They know, and they tell you, I mean, they know their bodies.

JOLENE: Right. I just think sometimes they feel like, I know I feel ashamed. Like I should be able to do better, or I know better. And I, and I think if we could just share that message, like you said, at the beginning, Mel, with that 82% of people, you know, struggle from a sugar addiction. So whenever you're out and about, there's probably a whole group of people around you that have some of the same, you know, questions, concerns, and issues.

MELANIE: Of course. And we laugh about it when, you know, when you in a group with girlfriends but it's, it's very, it's a very frustrating addiction. And then you feel like each time you give in, like you kind of failed or you think that's your identity.

JOLENE: Exactly. Exactly.

MELANIE: And it's not your identity.

JOLENE: It's your biology.

MELANIE: It's your biology. And we get that chemistry straight, that's the thing I love about Nutrition for Weight Loss, especially when we teach in person, which we're not doing right now, but when you stand up there in the class and you're teaching and people come in and they, they look a certain way. They don't look like they have energy. They look like, okay, we'll see if this works. And by week four to six, you can physically see people changing.

JOLENE: Oh, that's amazing.

MELANIE: And I love to hear that. And they'll say, I, I can't believe I can walk. You know, this is pre COVID. I can walk past the snack table at work. I can walk right past it. Like they're kind of amazed. And it's such a victory. We need victories.

JOLENE: We, yes, we do. And we have to appreciate all those that we get, you know, because they might be far and few in between sometimes, but just so appreciate those victories and know that with every choice you make, you know, good choice or just a choice to be better for yourself and your health, that's a victory too. You know, sometimes you might see results a little down the road, but it's still a victory.

MELANIE: I, I would agree with that. And we were talking, you know, before we went to break about sleep and I think that's so important that when you don't get enough sleep, you are going to produce certain brain chemicals that you actually crave sugar.

JOLENE: Exactly.

MELANIE: And processed carbs.

Why is sleep important to ward off cravings?


JOLENE: Yes. That is, I found that really eye opening when I started working with clients that often sleep was our biggest issue and food was kind of secondary. And honestly, in some cases, often cases, I put sleep as, as a more of a priority because it kind of determines what happens for the whole next day. So with those sugar cravings, what happens is if you're not sleeping well and not allowing for good deep sleep, your body doesn't have the chance to do all of that rejuvenation and repair that it wants to do at night. And it just kind of resets your brain. So your brain is awakened with full energy, ready to take on the day. It's not starving in the morning, but if we don't sleep, you wake up with a tired brain that's kind of starving. And so right away, you might wake up with cravings and then the whole day you might just feel like everything you see that is a sugar looks like the most delicious thing in the world.

MELANIE: Yes. and you're producing chemicals that make you crave. But not only that, when you have the sugar, the processed carbs that convert rapidly to sugar in your bloodstream, it gives you the dopamine hit. So then that helps you feel like you're able to stay awake.

JOLENE: Right. But then that starts the cycle and I'm sure people have noticed; I noticed this with myself. If I start my day with like giving into a craving that the rest of the day is just shot.

MELANIE: You're behind the power curve the rest of the day. Yes.

JOLENE: And I can really relate it to sleep too, you know? And once you understand that connection, once again, and understand that sleep is affecting why you're having those cravings, then of course you could be more proactive of being like, okay, sleep's going to help me stay on my plan.

MELANIE: Well, as dietitians and nutritionist, we find many of our clients need that nutritional support to get adequate sleep and some need to practice good sleep hygiene and some need additional magnesium or snack at bedtime. And each sleep problem calls for a special sleep solution.

JOLENE: Everybody's unique. And everybody has different concerns about their sleep.

Health risks caused by sugar


MELANIE: And for some clients understanding the health risk of eating sugar also helps them to overcome their sugar addiction. I like what you said about sleep, that that's restorative. That's when we restore and repair. Well, I pulled out an old book written by in 2008, called The Sugar Fix by Dr. Richard Johnson. So let me share some of those health risks sugar can cause. Excess sugar can lead to weight gain.

JOLENE: I've experienced that check.

MELANIE: Excess sugar can lead to the diabetes or insulin resistance.

JOLENE: Check.

MELANIE: Excess sugar can lead to hypertension. Oh, thank goodness you didn't say that.

JOLENE: No, that one, I luckily caught it early enough.

MELANIE: Excess sugar can lead to heart disease. Excess sugar can lead to dental cavities. Think of your children. Excess sugar can lead to skin rashes. Excess sugar can lead to acid reflux. Excess sugar can lead to inflammation and pain. And I want to circle back to dental cavities. Yes, you can get those filled, but our oral health is directly related to our cardiovascular health. So it's a double whammy.

JOLENE: Yeah. And I, I think that's such powerful information to realize that when you go into the dentist and they're talking about gingivitis or inflamed gums, or just poor dental health, to start connecting that to, well, how healthy am I otherwise? Maybe I should get my heart health assessed. Maybe I need to find out more about how I'm actually doing.

MELANIE: Good. That's a really good thought. Well, let me share a client story. At one time, I worked as a dietitian at the VA hospital. I was a privilege to work with all the fellow veterans. And I convinced a nurse to give up sugar for three weeks. She told me when she ate sugar, her knee felt as though she had shards of glass poking at her and she had forgotten about her knee pain until she added it back after three weeks of being sugar free, pain free, and then it came back again. So she was like, “Oh, it betrayed me.”

JOLENE: It does that. I like to say sugar is like the biggest “frenemy”.

MELANIE: Good. I love that.

JOLENE: You think it's so friendly and it's attractive and reels you in and then it just stabs you in the back or in her case, in the knee.

MELANIE: In the knees.

JOLENE: Yeah. But isn't that amazing; three weeks. I always tell people, you know, it's hard to be patient with changes, but you know, if we think about a lifetime, you know, of, of engaging in maybe behaviors that are triggering some of this stuff and that we can see something like this change in three weeks, isn't that remarkable?

MELANIE: It is remarkable. And I know for myself, I can't do corn. Well, corn rapidly converts to sugar. And my husband and I met at a, a Mexican restaurant. So periodically we would go back there every three months and if I had chips and salsa, the next week my knees killed me. I felt so old trying to squat down and get client files out. And it, it was the demon sugar.

JOLENE: So real. It sounds like you've given a couple really good examples of how it shows up for you as inflammation, like with your feet hurting in the morning and just being achy. And so for you that again just feeds your compelling why, right? Why not to eat it.

MELANIE: Why not to eat it. And it's, I think a lot of us go through life thinking, well, it's old age, you know, I'm aging and this is aches and pains, but wouldn't it be great to give it that three week trial and see, perhaps it's not aging. Perhaps it's sugar.

JOLENE: And that's a great place to start. You know, it's like try something for a little bit, you know, two weeks, three weeks, four weeks, wherever you can manage. And maybe you have a mishap in, in there that's okay. You know, we can't change things that happened in the past. We can only determine what's going to happen, you know, for the next choice.

MELANIE: Yeah. I would agree with that thoroughly.

JOLENE: So to overcome sugar addiction, it's really about that why or that commitment and it's worth that effort you put in the process. For most of us, it's not one and done. And just to know that and understand that you have the support and finding support is essential when we do this. It's a day-to-day process or a journey and it requires nurturing and whatever method works for you.

MELANIE: It requires that tribe.

JOLENE: It does, it takes a tribe.

MELANIE: I love that. And I love, you know, some of the tips that you gave today that really, I think helped our listeners. We are flesh and bone and we have the same struggles and we're here to be to help you. Absolutely. Our goal at Nutritional Weight and Wellness is to help each and every person experience better health through eating real food. It's a simple but powerful message. Eating real food is life changing. Thank you for joining us today. Have a wonderful day.

JOLENE: Have a great day.

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