Do you wake up in the morning feeling refreshed and energized? If you answered, “no,” you’re not alone. Most people are leading busy lives during the day and not getting enough restful sleep at night.

If you fall into this stressed-out and sleep-deprived category, chances are you turn to caffeine and refined sugar to make it through the day. The problem is not your morning cup of coffee; it’s when the resulting blood sugar crash leads to an afternoon espresso or sugar craving—and then another…and so on.

The vicious sugar and caffeine cycle has started, and until it’s broken, it’s very difficult to achieve a state of balance. When the body’s natural energy rhythms are off, food cravings can rage, the immune system is weakened and a good night’s sleep can seem impossible.

To better understand the strain that artificial stimulants put on the body, think of energy as currency in a bank account: When the balance is zero, and you turn to artificial stimulants for a quick fix, it’s like borrowing on credit. A one-time charge is okay, paid back in the form of rest and good nutrition. But when you continue to borrow in the form of refined sweeteners and caffeine, your “account” becomes increasingly depleted. Energy bankruptcy occurs and it becomes difficult to get back to a neutral balance, let alone, build a natural energy surplus.

In order to loosen the grip that caffeine or sugar may have over you, it is important to break the cycle. Some people succeed at quitting caffeine and sugar cold turkey. Most don’t have it that easy. Since sugar and caffeine are addictive, withdrawals, usually in the form of headaches and fatigue, are common. Gradually reduce the amount you’re consuming, and then find a healthful replacement. Often we become attached to the ritual, so it is important to find another that can be just as satisfying. For coffee, make the switch to black tea, then to green tea and finally to an herbal tea. If you are trying to ease off of sugar, try replacing it with more natural sweeteners: maple syrup, agave nectar and honey are all good alternatives. Try a little on plain yogurt or in a smoothie. You can use these sweeteners to bake cookies, cakes and puddings to get your sweet fix—without an energy crash.

To keep cravings at bay, be sure to add in plenty of health promoting foods. Both caffeine and sugar are extremely acid producing, and the more acidic foods we consume, the more we desire them. Begin to focus on adding in alkaline foods. Green, leafy vegetables are an amazing source, as are fresh herbs and citrus fruits. Try starting the day with a glass of water with half a lemon squeezed into it. This immediately alkalizes your system, keeping cravings at bay. Also, try a leafy green salad with particularly acidic foods—like burgers, pizza or anything fried. This will help keep you neutral and prevent an imbalance.

The bottom line is that you won’t have to go the rest of your life without birthday cake or a cappuccino. These foods are meant to be enjoyed—in moderation. If daily indulgences begin to take their toll on energy levels, take a few steps to regain control and reconnect with feeling naturally alert and energized all day long.


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