Sincerely Carolina

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Guest Post: When Sugar Attacks

by caroline

Today’s guest post comes from Jennifer Fugo, the founder of Gluten Free School, an online education destination for gluten sensitive individuals to get the guidance they need to make the gluten-free diet stick.  She’s a certified Health Coach named a “Gluten Free Guru” by Philadelphia Magazine and leads various workshops and cooking classes in the Philadelphia area.

Jennifer is a sought after expert for news contribution on healthy & gluten-free living as well as a speaker, avid blogger & yoga teacher.

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My day used to start out with gluten-free cookies –– five to be exact.  Somehow that seemed like a good breakfast for awhile. Just enough food to keep me going until lunch time that I could easily eat as I rushed out the door.  All that sugar and starchy goodness –– who knew my ‘breakfast of champions’ and my other sugary snacks throughout the day were detrimental.  After all, they’re gluten-free, right?

Wrong.  I found out that short-changing myself like this day-in and day-out was undoing all the work I’d put into being gluten-free. Sugar is not your friend, folks.  It’s your bad habit, your quick fix, and maybe even a big secret that you binge on throughout the day just to keep going without lopping your co-workers’ heads off.  Sugar is an incredibly addictive drug that many of us, especially those in our gluten-free community, are hooked on.  No matter whether it was introduced at childhood or snuck in under the radar at one stressful point in your life, sugar has its claws in you and doesn’t plan on letting go without putting up a good fight.

A few years ago, I was exhausted, overly stressed, and still feeling bloated and out of sorts.  Up to this point, a gluten-free diet had done me well: I lost about 20 lbs of inflammation, said good-bye to chronic digestive problems and headaches, and gained back a ton of energy. But in the transition, something shifted.  I got busy, life became hectic and slowly sugar crept in.  Before you know it, there were gluten-free cookies for breakfast, vegan chocolate truffles for mid-day snacks and vegan, gluten-free, chocolate brownies for a bedtime treats paired with some coconut milk ice cream to boot.

My diet turned into a gluten-free (and often vegan) junk food nightmare.  Like many, I lost sight of what ‘healthy’ really meant when it came to food because I was more focused on having similar experiences to those from my glutenous days.  It’s alarmingly easy to make a transition from one unhealthy glutenous diet to an unhealthy gluten-free one.  I should know.  I did it myself and whatever progress I made eating gluten-free was slowly undone by every morsel of sugar and starchy crap that kept calling my name.

After eating this way for several months, I ended up with candida (a chronic yeast infection), exhaustion, wicked sugar cravings, poor sleep, acne, and more digestive problems.  My body felt like I made a wrong turn somewhere along the dietary highway, but couldn’t exactly figure out how or where I’d gone wrong.  Since my symptoms felt similar to my former one caused by gluten, I took action and saw a local holistic doctor.  Eventually I learned that I needed to treat my gut flora with a bit more respect than had been allowing for.

If you’re not in-the-know about gut flora, join me for a moment because it’s important that you understand the basics since we all have these wonderful bacteria helping us feel and function well. Healthy flora are bacteria living in and on you that do what seems like a lot of magic in your digestive system.  Believe it or not, they actually outnumber your own human cells.  Crazy, huh? The thing is, it’s always a balancing act of nurturing those good bacteria and keeping the bad bacteria and yeast (a.k.a. candida) at bay.  The good bacteria are a critical part of our digestive and immune systems that keeps you healthy on every level.

A serious problem arises when you overeat junk food and sugar because you’re literally feeding the bad guys.  Your diet helps to dictate a specific environment in your belly that is not friendly to the bacteria you really want there.  Thus, the good guys begin to die off, making way for the troublemakers.  Unfortunately, most gluten-free products are pretty high in sugar as well as high glycemic starchy carbs that set you and your gut up for failure. Gluten-free doesn’t mean healthy… it just means free from gluten. Whatever it is that’s coming from a box, can or bag can still be incredibly bad for you.  A brownie’s still a brownie, gluten-free or not.

All’s not lost, though!  Just as I found my way back, so can you.  If you want to learn more about this topic, I’m going to share with you my latest audio class where I go pretty in depth explaining this undiscussed topic in our community.  And if you’re ready to take the plunge and break your gluten-free sugar addiction, I’ve got the perfect event starting on 1/26/12 at 8pm ET called “Gluten Free Sugar Cleanse” that consists of real, gluten-free food, tele-classes and support that will help you get back on track.

Real food’s the way to beat a sugar addiction.  I’ve done it for myself and for clients many times by adding in healthier versions of favorite foods and making cooking gluten-free easy for them.  To help you understand what meals without sugar would look like, you can easily check out the following recipes:

Want to kick your sugar habit for good? Sign up for Jennifer’s Sugar Cleanse, starting January 26th!

More from Jennifer: