This week we have a timely and helpful guest post by one of my longtime readers, Angela Privin – who is also a digestive health coach:

The best thing I’ve ever done for my digestive health was to break my sugar habit. It allowed me to rebalance my biome and heal my irritable bowel syndrome 16 years ago and counting.

Sugar addiction is one of the hardest addictions to break due to social pressure. Sugar is a celebrated part of the Western diet, and an integral part of gatherings.

Social and cultural influences are not the only reasons it’s hard to tame the sugar dragon. A high-sugar diet feeds yeast and pathogenic bacteria in the gut. These microbes demand sugar to survive. When their primary food source is cut off, they excrete endotoxins as they die. This can be experienced as flu-like symptoms, increased sugar cravings and moodiness/irritability.

To reduce bacterial or fungal overgrowth, moderate carbohydrate intake is key. Going too low carb can damage hormones, reduce energy and starve beneficial bacteria. While, too much sugar and carbs can feed infections, boost inflammation and destabilize blood sugar and mood. Taking the “goldilocks” approach of moderation with sugar and carbs is a smart and balanced approach.

Social pressure, cravings and physical withdrawal are reasons why people fail to kick sugar with a “cold turkey” approach. But there is another way.

As a digestive health coach, I suggest slowly weaning off sugar, processed carbs and inflammatory foods/treats. The slow path is less shocking to the system and more sustainable long term.

You can have your cake and eat it too, without feeling awful

While many people with digestive issues tend to be extremist, the all or nothing approach is too hard, especially during the holidays or special occasions, when treats are celebratory and traditional.

Train your taste buds to like treats that are less sweet. Do this slowly by rebalancing your microbiome to reduce sugar cravings. First, remove inflammatory foods like gluten, anything processed/junk food, dairy and in some cases, grains. Then slowly raise fiber in the diet. The slower you go the easier it will be. You won’t shock your body into a state of withdrawal.