Low Cortisol

The three secrets to ending sugar cravings with Tricia Nelson

In this conversation, Laurie and Tricia Nelson discuss the three secrets to ending sugar cravings. Tricia explains what sugar does to your body and how you conquer your cravings with the 3Ds.

Tricia Nelson lost fifty pounds by identifying and healing the underlying causes of her emotional eating. She spent over thirty years researching the hidden causes of the addictive personality. Tricia is an Emotional Eating Expert and TEDx speaker, and author of the #1 bestselling book, Heal Your Hunger, 7 Simple Steps to End Emotional Eating Now. Tricia is the host of the popular podcast, The Heal Your Hunger Show and is a highly regarded speaker. Tricia has been featured on NBC, CBS, KTLA, FOX and The List.

This is a transcription of a conversation between Laurie and Tricia. You can find the full video on Laurie’s blog and soon on YouTube.

Laurie:

This is gonna be good. And so today we’re gonna be talking about the three secrets to end sugar cravings, which I know a lot of women struggle with and you are an expert in this area and you’ve got the three secrets for us.  I can’t wait to hear all about them.

Tricia:

Yeah. Thanks so much for having me, Laurie. This is a topic, very close to my heart because I was a sugar addict. It had me by the throat. You know, anytime I would eat sugar, I would overeat sugar. I just could not stop. And I loved it and always wanted to eat it. So anytime it was around like if there’s a bowl of candy, I’m like, ooh, I want that candy. You know? And, I was a binge eater, so I would binge, you know, my main food that I liked to eat was sugar. So ice cream, cake, cookies, Hershey’s kisses. So it was a big highlight for me. But it was something that I lost control with. It was hard for me to eat just a few pieces of chocolate. You know, how they recommend, nowadays, chocolate has good components and it’s good for your health.

If you eat like two little squares and I’d be like, yeah, but I don’t eat two little squares. If I open the bar, it’s, you know, Gonzo. So I was totally addicted to sugar and of course it affected my health. And I was 50 pounds overweight as a result of being addicted to sugar and being an emotional eater. So it was really important for me and my weight loss journey to lose those 50 pounds. And it was a hundred percent linked to quitting sugar and, realizing what it was doing to my body. So basically, that’s why I’m so excited to share this. ‘Cuz I know what it’s like to be enslaved to the sweet stuff. And, I will tell you, it is an addiction for many people and sugar is highly addictive.

Laurie:

Absolutely. And even if, I think even if women don’t resonate with the binge eating part, I know so many women out there, like you would open up a bar of chocolate and, you know, finish the whole thing in one go, it’s hard not to, for a lot of women, you know.

Tricia:

So hard.

Laurie:

Yeah. I mean, and you can call that binging, but I’ve, I’ve even seen people who can manage other suites and there are certain ones they don’t really have a sweet tooth until they have that one thing and then it’s like, oh, I, want all of it.

Tricia:

Yep. No, it’s a, it’s a hard substance. It’s a hard substance to cut out and there’s not too many positive qualities to sugar.

Laurie:

So let’s dive into that because I talk a lot about hormone health and the relationship to sugar and particularly managing blood sugar levels and consuming sugar plays a big part in that.

Tricia:

Yes.

Laurie:

So we could start by maybe just covering a little bit there. How that impacts. I think a lot of the women that are watching this already know. It’d be good to just cover it quickly. Like how does sugar really impact our health? And especially if we’re having lots of it.

Tricia:

Totally. I mean, it’s a, one of the major causes of inflammation, obviously. So that sets your body up and makes it vulnerable for all kinds of issues, it does obviously spike your blood sugar. And it causes all kinds of issues that people don’t think of. And I’m gonna name one of the most horrifying one is it gives you wrinkles. People don’t realize that the more sugar you eat, the less elasticity you have in your skin, in your skin falls, your face falls. Like nobody wants that. So that’s kind of a hidden thing, but there’s so many issues. Of course it makes you vulnerable to diabetes, prediabetes, belly fat, metabolic syndrome. It causes obviously, crazy sugar spikes and drops.

When our sugar levels plummet, that’s where the cravings happen. So it causes sugar, like sugar causes sugar cravings, but also it’s highly addictive, you know? And so, so what I found is when I was trying to lose weight, but I was still eating products with sugar, even if there are healthy products, which we can get into that because there’s all kinds of hidden sugars, even in healthy products. If I was still eating sugar, my body was getting set up to be addicted and to crave. And so it was so hard to stay on a clean eating plan when my body was craving it. So there’s the physical, then there’s the emotional dependence. There’s a lot that goes into it, plus it’s just everywhere. It’s highly addictive because it’s hard to stay away from it. It’s highly socially acceptable. Any party you go to, there’s gonna be all kinds of opportunities to eat sugar. So it’s a hard thing to quit, especially on your own and without having the facts about where it’s hiding in your food. But the bottom line is there’s no positive effects it’ll have on your body. They’re all negative. They will all cause you know, headaches, mood, swings, depression, anxiety, the list goes on and on.

Laurie:

Yeah. And it can be so surprising to learn, like you had said where it’s hiding in your food, but when you look at the, at the labels of foods, you think are healthy that even have healthy on the label, like often sugar or some form of sugar is like the first or the second ingredient. And it’s so, deceiving because a lot of women out there think that they’re eating healthy and sugar is hiding in all these nooks and crannies. I remember one time going through the aisle with my father and we’d find it pasta sauce, we’d find it bread. We’d find all these foods that you wouldn’t think would have sugar in it, but they do.

Tricia:

Yeah. Well, that’s the first secret to end sugar craving. Like you led me it. So there are three D’s, the secrets all start with D. So the first D is “detect”. How disheartening and frustrating is it when you’re actually trying to stay away from sugar and unhealthy foods and you’re on a clean eating plan and you’re exercising, you’re feeling great, but little do you know that your health foods, literally foods you buy at Whole Foods, or health food stores, have sugar hidden in them. So you’re being set up to crave and you think, I have all these cravings and I can’t stop eating this “healthy product”.

It’s so defeating. It’s not like you’re eating Bon Bons.  You’re literally trying to be healthy, but you’re being sabotaged by ingredients that are hidden. So yes, there are over 80 names for sugar. Alternative names. What the food manufacturers do is they use different sugars so that they can put more sugar in without it looking like it has as much sugar as it has. So that’s a problem, you know, these different names for sugar. That’s how it hides in our products. It’s incredible. I’ve gone and read labels and Whole Foods. I’ve been amazed at how much, like you said, pasta sauce, salad, dressings, cereals, all kinds of things that really have sweetness on their own.

What are we doing putting sugar in those products? It’s because it does get us hooked, the sweet taste hooks us. And if we are not hip to all the alternative names of sugars, like; pure cane sugar or evaporated cane juice.  They sound kind of natural and healthy, but they’re still sugar and you’re still getting hooked. So it’s really important to know about the names of sugar. It’s important to know how to sus these out and start reading labels. It was a game changer for me when I started to do that, so that I wasn’t being set up to sabotage when I was trying to eat how healthy and clean.

Laurie:

Yeah. That’s a good one. And even when you were mentioning pure cane sugar, I know there are lots of these ones that we think oh, but it’s natural. Oh, but it’s a healthy version. It’s still setting a lot of women up for struggling with being able to quit.

 

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Laurie:

What’s number two.

Tricia:

Number two is, “Detox”. And this is really important. Some people might be able to eat a little bit of sugar and stop. But for those who feel like they go overboard too quickly, what I found is literally cutting it out of your diet as much as possible. We don’t wanna be crazy about it, but as much as possible. Side stepping the trap by getting sugar free. And if you read labels, if you know about alternative names of sugar and if you know what products are clean, then you can detox from sugar, cut it out of your system. And basically what this does is it takes away the physical craving. We crave sugar when we have sugar in our system. Sugar, craves, sugar.

And so I found that it was really hard to eat clean when I still had it in my system. It’s like alcohol to an alcoholic. An alcoholic that takes one drink, wants another drink. For a sugar addict, which I was, I eat a little bit of chocolate. I want more chocolate. Okay. A little bit of sugar, I want more sugar. And so I find that for a lot of people, it’s easier to not have it than to try to moderate. I call moderation the M word because it’s really tricky for somebody who’s addicted to sugar to moderate. Just like it’s tricky for an alcoholic to moderate drinking alcohol. And it helped me so much as a sugar addict. It helped me to clear it out of my system.

So I didn’t physically crave it, you know? And so, and, and for some people it’s like, whoa, I can’t imagine not eating sugar. Well, it’s totally possible when you have healthy substitutes. Okay. That’s, that’s where step three comes in which is, “Delicious”. So we clear it out of our system, but we don’t feel deprived when we have healthy, substitutes. I’m a big fan of stevia and monk fruit. These are sweeteners that are, are natural. They don’t have adverse side effects. You know, they give me the ability to have sweetness without hurting my body, without setting my body up to crave. And I don’t use a lot of it, but at times it just gives me a little bit of sweetness for my sweet tooth. I still have a sweet tooth, you know, and I satisfy it with healthy alternatives that don’t have sugar, so I’m not physically craving.

And those sweeteners don’t, they just don’t set you up cuz they’re not sugar. And the other thing is having healthy recipes that are sweet and yummy, but don’t have sugar in them. And there are so many now. And thankfully we can satisfy our sweet tooth without eating sugar and setting ourselves up for that craving. So the delicious part is essential. We have to know where we can have our sweet and yummy foods.

And of course there’s a whole other level, which is dealing with the emotional dependence on sugar, which I help people with as well. We do want sweet things often for emotional reasons, so we can address that, but it’s really important first and foremost, to get physically detoxed off of the sugar and not freak out knowing we have recipes that we can still enjoy. And the beautiful thing about that, Laurie, is that you can literally save a lot of money. You can make soda for yourself, but just with like seltzer water and flavored stevia.  Vanilla flavored stevia is my favorite stevia. Sweet Leaf makes flavored stevia and you can literally make any kind of soda you want just with these couple drops of stevia, but you save a lot of money as well.

 

When our sugar levels plummet, that’s where the cravings happen.”

 

Laurie:

Wow. I didn’t even know about that. I have not tried that before.

Tricia:

Oh yeah. They have vanilla. They have berry flavored, orange flavor,  English toffee, chocolate. It’s crazy. And just this little bottle and I always carry a little bit of regular flavored stevia if I’m on the plane or whatever, and they offer me soda, I’m like, I’ll take the soda water, club soda or the seltzer. Nowadays they have some good seltzer. And then I just use my little stevia and it’s great. I have a soda ready to go that has no calories, no addictive substance, no chemicals. And I’m on my way.

Laurie:

I love it. So if you really have these strategies, you can get sugar out of your life and replace it, like shift and replace it with things that make you feel better that are better for your health, that don’t have you craving sugar all the time. Right.

Tricia:

Totally.

Laurie:

Because I guess that if you, if you’re switching over to stevia or monk fruit or some of these other delicious recipes that satisfy your sweet tooth, you then don’t like an hour later, you know, later that day, the next day, you don’t like have this intense craving for more.

Tricia:

No, that’s what’s been easiest for me for so long. I tried to moderate and eat, you know, I mean, I’m just not one of those people that can eat just one and stop. I just can’t do it. So I know that about myself. And, and I found that in my efforts to lose weight, it was really hard until I cleared sugar out of my diet. Then it was so much easier. I cannot tell you it made all the difference.

Laurie:

And so how would women really be able to recognize that, okay, maybe I am addicted to sugar, maybe I do have a sugar problem.

Tricia:

Yeah. I would say if you can’t stop at one or two, if you find yourself eating more than you want to. I was somebody that I’d eat one bowl of cereal and I always wanted another bowl of cereal or ice cream. Like a pint of ice cream. I’d take the lid off and I’d never put it back on. I couldn’t imagine having just part of a pint of ice cream. Not everybody is like this. I was kind of on the high end of the spectrum. But definitely if you lose control more often, and if you have shame around it, like if you’re embarrassed about the amount that you eat. If you do have binges, like really that you go to town. If you think about it a lot, like you don’t even have to eat it a lot, but if you think about it a lot, the obsession plays a part in this as well. If it occupies a lot of your thoughts, like you’re thinking what you’re going to eat after work. What am I going to eat and start planning your jaunt to the special chocolate store, you know, for Belgian chocolate or something. And it’s interrupting your life. You’re thinking about it way more than you want to, you eat your kids Halloween candy…

Laurie:

Before they do.

Tricia:

Right. Or you find yourself saying, let’s go get ice cream. You know, when the kids aren’t even asking for it, but you’re like, let’s, let’s figure out a way that we can go get some sugar. It’s incredible. It just seeps into every part of your life. So that’s usually a sign that there’s something up. And if you have symptoms, if your doctor’s told you your prediabetic and to cut out sugar or modify how much sugar you’re eating and you can’t, even if you know better. So many of the people that I help, they’re not stupid. They’re actually quite healthy. They make healthy choices generally, but this is their downfall. This is their downfall. And it’s so frustrating because they know better, but they can’t do better. And if you’re in that frustrating place, then it might be time to take a look at it.

Low Cortisol

Laurie:

Yeah, definitely. So I love this. So it’s, “Detect”, “Detox”, and “Delicious”.

Tricia:

Yep.

Laurie:

And then you have some extra support for those who are curious about where to go next. Or how to dive into all these three steps. Isn’t that right?

Tricia:

Yes. I do. I actually support people on the journey of quitting sugar, which makes it so much easier. This is hard to do in your own because everybody eats sugar and it’s everywhere, you know? And so getting support and being in community with other people who are quitting sugar makes it so much easier. So what I do Laurie, is I host a five day quit sugar challenge. And together we quit sugar and people get tons of support. I literally teach you step by step. During five days, there’s a class every day on how to get it out of your diet, how to read the labels, what names of sugars to beware of, how to detox and the different things you can do to successfully detox and supplements you can take and different ways to make it easier.

And I support you on that process. So people, each day are feeling better, and better, but sometimes there’s some detox symptoms. So I talk you through the symptoms as well and help you get over the hump. It only takes about four days to detox from sugar. In my experience, day three or four is a little rough. And then you’re home free. So we do this in five days. Not everybody like literally quits during the five days, but they get on the road to, to doing it.

I also, in addition to those five classes, I do mindset classes as well each morning. I call them morning mindset calls. A lot of it is what I call the ground war, which is literally getting sugar out of your diet, clearing your cupboards reading labels and all that.

But then there’s the air war. The air war is what’s going on between our ears. Like I can’t quit sugar, you know, what would, how would I live without sugar? And what do I do? Like what do I do after work? And what do I do at the parties? And that’s the air war. And so I address the air war in the mindset calls so that we can get our heads right, and get really emotionally detoxed from sugar as well.

So it’s really, it’s awesome. A ton of fun. It’s super inexpensive and there’s a VIP version with just a little bit more money where people can hang out after class with me and ask questions. It’s incredibly comprehensive. There’s a whole 30 page workbook, including recipes. I give people recipes that I love. And also products people can turn to that they know are safe right off the bat. I’ve done a lot of the label reading for people so they can note which products at Whole Foods are safe. And at regular stores as well.

Laurie:

I love it. That sounds so helpful.

Tricia:

Yeah. It’s great. It’s a lot of fun.

Laurie:

I would recommend anybody that’s watching this. It’s like, oh yes, this resonates to go for it. I will include link for people to join. So they don’t have to go searching for it.

Tricia:

Yeah. That’d be great. Join us. We do it quarterly. If you try that link and there’s a wait list, make sure to get your name and email on the wait list. We’ll notify you as soon as we open up registration for the next one.

Laurie:

Oh, awesome. Well, thanks for coming out and sharing all this goodness with me and my community.

Tricia:

So my pleasure.

Laurie:

I love it. And we’re gonna be back for more. You said, you’ll join me again for more of these juicy topics.

Tricia:

You bet. It’s a real pleasure.

Laurie:

Thank you. Well, where else can people follow you?

Tricia:

Heal Your Hunger is my website. So that’s a great place. They can find out about my book there, my podcast. And I’m also on Instagram and TikTok at Tricia Nelson underscore at the end of Nelson.

Laurie:

Excellent. Well, go follow Tricia. And I look forward to having you back for some more.

Further support:

Still not sure if you’re an emotional eater? Take Tricias’s quiz to find out!

If you would like more support on your journey join Tricia’s End Emotional Eating program, where you will learn to overcome emotional eating with assistance and encouragement.

Find out more:

Connect with Tricia on Instagram @tricianelson_ and check out her website or more information and tips. Enroll in her End Emotional eating program to set you up for emotional eating freedom.

This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended to diagnose, manage, or treat disease or serious conditions. Always check with your doctor before making any changes. It’s important to consult a well-informed health practitioner for personal advice about your situation before relying on general information we’re all wonderfully unique.

Laurie Villarreal, FNLP, CHWC, FNS, LMC, CPT, RYT

Hi, I'm Laurie, a functional nutritionist and board certified health coach, athlete, dog-mom, and biohacking adventure-lover. After having struggled for years to find lasting solutions for my own debilitating hormone-related symptoms, I created my online practice to begin helping other active, driven women get the support they need. I now help  women around the world elevate their health, energy, business and life by optimizing their hormones with personalized nutrition and lifestyle tweaks. Together, we discover new tools and strategies that keep you showing up at your best so you can play even bigger in your life and work.

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