Hunting down those hidden sugar bombs

So if you’re following the 10-day “Sugar Challenge,” you’ve ditched all of the candy and boxed spaghetti from your pantry by now. And that’s great! But you’re not completely out of the woods yet.

It’s surprising how many seemingly “safe” foods hide sugar, corn syrup, and refined carbohydrates. (Soups, stocks, and sauces are especially common offenders—not to mention processed meats like bacon or sausage.)

So make sure you’re taking a close look at the ingredients list of the food you buy. And avoid sugar, obviously, but also these ingredients:

  • Honey
  • Concentrated fruit juice
  • Barley malt
  • Maple syrup
  • Rice syrup
  • Cane sugar
  • Agave
  • Fructose
  • Anything that ends in –ose or –ol.

Beware of natural milk sugars, too. (This is one of the reasons why yogurt isn’t the health food that the food industry would like you to think.) Low-fat dairy products in particular can be sugar bombs. So stick with full-fat cheese, butter, and cream over “diet” products like skim milk and yogurt.

Finally (and here’s the part where I get the most raised eyebrows, but hear me out): I need you to give up fruit now. I’ve said it before, but fruit really is nature’s candy, and it’s packed with sugar. (Did you know a banana has nearly 14 grams of sugar?) And yes, even this type of sugar needs to be included in your sugar-elimination challenge.

This is an especially important step for hardcore sugar junkies. Because in the absence of your usual crutches you could start relying on the natural sugars in fruit for a “fix.” And that would undermine the benefit of this challenge entirely.

This isn’t forever—just until you’ve kicked the sugar habit for good, and re-set your metabolism. Once that happens, you can add low-sugar fruits like melons and berries back in.

But the fact is, your body only needs protein, vegetables, and fat to be satisfied and well nourished. So during the 10-day challenge, that’s exactly what I want you to eat. Whole, unprocessed foods—like lean meats and fish, salads, veggies, nuts, and healthy fats. (In other words, follow my New Hamptons Health Miracle.)

In the meantime, chances are you’ve had a craving or two (or 10) this week. Yesterday I gave you some strategies to help get through those cravings without giving in. But there are a few more ways to combat tough sugar cravings…

When my patients first eliminate sugar, I prescribe a simple trio of supplements to help ease them through the transition.

SAM-e—400 mg in the morning. This helps calm down some of the psychological cravings for food. One of the reasons sugar is so addictive is because it boosts serotonin levels, leaving you with a natural—but very temporary—“high.” SAM-e offers serotonin support without the nasty side effects of sugar. And it can help you cope with the emotional roller coaster that comes with breaking the habit, too.

5-HTP—100 mg at bedtime will help you sleep. And quality sleep is essential for managing daytime cravings. You may burn more calories when you’re awake—but your body’s hunger hormones go on overdrive, too. And what do you think they’ll be begging for? You guessed it—sugar. So make sure you’re getting plenty of rest.

L-Glutamine— I told you about this go-to craving killer last week.  Take 500 mg every time you have an urgent craving. This works like a charm. Simply take some L-glutamine, wait 10 minutes, and your craving will go away.

Of course, once your body adjusts to its new life without sugar and your cravings disappear, you probably won’t need to supplement with this trio anymore. But for now, it can be a big help.