Breaking Up With Sugar

by Dabney Vaccaro, BS, RDH, HC

Sugar is in virtually every processed food in some way, shape, and form. Food manufacturers have chemically altered our food to make our brains crave it. As a result, the American population continues to become sicker with a compromised quality of life.  Sugar cravings can be strong and the temptations are difficult to resist for those who have a sweet tooth. The white stuff can difficult to avoid, and a person has to be a savvy label reader to understand all the different names of sugar. Plus, the names keep changing, which makes it even harder. Don’t be fooled into thinking sugar free is better.  As a matter of fact, it’s worse. It’s never a good idea to put toxins into the body and think there won’t be negative consequences.  What’s more, those toxins get trapped in fat cells and can cause disease.  That’s why eating real, whole foods is beneficial.  Our food is our best medicine, but if we give our body junk, we will get a junkie body.  If we give it nourishment, we will get a healthy body. 

Breaking up with sugar is essential for both oral health and systemic health. As a dental hygienist, I have seen firsthand patients who negate sugar from their diet. Their oral/gum appearance is healthy, with stippled gingiva and no bleeding. As much as we want to stick to the old models of brush, floss, and rinse, there is so much more than those principles in achieving oral health. It starts and ends with sugar. Why? Sugar is an inflammatory product. NO ONE is exempt from the inflammatory effects of sugar. Inflammation is linked to virtually every chronic disease: cardiovascular disease, cancer, IBS, eczema, autoimmune disorders, Alzheimer’s Disease, and more.  That’s why it’s so destructive. Get off the sugar train and enjoy the only life you have…before it’s too late.

Here are a few tips that can help in your break up with sugar…..

  1. Protein up:  Protein plays a valuable role in balancing the blood sugar levels. Often times when a craving for sugar or carbohydrate hits, what is needed is a good source of protein. It’s also digested at a slower rate than carbohydrates and the protein-rich foods are usually low on the glycemic index.
  2. Balanced sugar level:  When sugar is ingested, blood sugar levels spike and that “sugar rush” is reached. Whatever goes up, comes down and that crash can leave the body feeling sluggish and desperate for another sugar fix. Stabilize the blood sugar by consuming meals that include a mix of complex carbohydrates, fiber, healthy fats and protein. Since this mix will take a while to break down and absorb, the blood sugar level will be more balanced and cravings for sugar will be reduced.
  3. Drink water:  Staying well hydrated improves digestion, reduces pain, lubricates joints, fuels cells, transports chemical messengers throughout the body, enhances kidney function, and keeps up feeling energized. Studies show drinking water prior to a meal will prevent overeating and may lead to weight loss. When satiety is reached, there is a less likely chance of indulging in a cookie or a slice of cake.
  4. Go to sleep:  Sleep deprivation increased the production of the hunger hormone, ghrelin. When the body is sleep deprived, the chances of eating junk food like pizza and candy are greatly increased. These foods activate the reward centers of the brain which indicates likely unhealthy choices will be made when the body is really craving is sleep. Try to get at least 7-8 hours of sleep per night and those sugar cravings will reduce or may even disappear altogether.
  5. Sip some tea:  Before reaching for a sugary snack, brew a cup of tea first. By the time the water gets hot and the tea seeps, the craving will likely pass. Choosing a tea with spices like cinnamon, ginger or turmeric will help regulate blood sugar.
  6. Keep sugar out:  The best way to beat sugar cravings is to not purchase them in the first place. If the sugary treats aren’t in the house, there is a less likely chance of temptation. Instead stock the pantry and fridge with fresh vegetable, fruits, nuts, seeds, spices and teas that is in ready reach when a craving or hunger strikes.

For more information and tips for health, visit my website at

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