I've been off sugar for three years now. And I've shared tips and tricks with millions around the world on how to do so with (relative) ease. But between you and I, I still struggle with cravings. The stuff is gnarly - some say as addictive as cocaine and heroin - and it's dangled in front of us everywhere we turn. What's more, we're actually biologically programmed to binge on it and to be obsessed by it. This is because it's such a fantastic way for us to get instantly... yes... fat. Back in caveman times, when we needed as much fat as we could get and sugar was very rare (a few bitter berries here and there), this made sense. Today, of course, these cravings land us in dire trouble and we have to fight our cravings.
But I have a secret weapon that I like to use in my own personal war against sugar. It stops cravings in their tracks but also deals with mid-afternoon energy slumps. Ready for it? It's coconut oil.
I take it a tablespoon at a time
Yep, I eat it directly from the jar after lunch. Or I mix it with a little raw cacao powder to make the simplest chocolate snack on the planet.
It kills sugar cravings, immediately.
How so? Coconut oil is made up of medium-chain fatty acids, or medium chain triglycerides (MCTs). Indeed, coconut oil is nature's richest source of MCTs. These fatty acids produce a host of health benefits which you can read about here. But here's the bit I like: your body sends medium-chain fatty acids straight to your liver to use as energy. This means coconut oil is a source of instant energy, much like sugar and other simple carbohydrates. But although both deliver quick energy to your body, unlike the carbohydrates, coconut oil does not produce an insulin spike in your bloodstream. This saves you from a slump, and is really good news for anyone struggling with insulin issues. Like me.
It fills you up, immediately.
After two tablespoons I'm not hungry for about four hours.
And bonus: it helps you lose weight!
Again, it's the medium-chain fatty acids. Most plant oils are made up of longer chain fat triglycerides (LCTs). LCTs are typically stored in the body as fat; MCTs are transported directly to the liver, promoting "thermogenesis" which increases the body's metabolism. There are a stack of studies that have shown this to be the case, like this one. This study shows eating two tablespoons of coconut oil with a meal caused body temperature to rise, boosting metabolism. Plus, MCTs are not easily converted into stored triglycerides and cannot be readily used by the body to make larger fat molecules.
McDonald's had <a href="http://www.slate.com/articles/business/moneybox/2009/08/who_won_the_recession.html" target="_hplink">higher sales growth in 2008</a> than in 2006 or 2007, opening nearly 600 stores that year, according to Slate. The chain was able to take advantage of Americans' recession tastes: Cheap, convenient food.
One <a href="http://www.reddit.com/r/AskReddit/comments/w2sv3/fast_food_workers_of_reddit_what_is_the_one_menu/" target="_hplink">Reddit user claiming to be an ex-McDonald's worker</a> said he once left a bag of chicken nuggets out on the counter for too long and "they melted. Into a pool of liquid." That didn't stop him from loving the nuggets, "still delicious," he wrote.
More than <a href="http://www.nelp.org/page/-/Press Releases/2012/PR_MinWageCorpProfits.pdf?nocdn=1" target="_hplink">60 percent of low-wage workers</a> are employed by big corporations, according to a July analysis by the National Employment Law Project. And more than 90 percent of those companies were profitable last year.
Fast food workers in New York City make an <a href="http://blogs.villagevoice.com/forkintheroad/2012/11/fast_food_forward_strike_nyc.php" target="_hplink">average of $9 per hour</a>, according to the Village Voice. That comes to about $18,500 per year for full-time workers.
For 40 percent of private sector workers, <a href="http://articles.baltimoresun.com/2012-11-28/news/bs-ed-sick-leave-20121128_1_sick-days-care-workers-service-workers" target="_hplink">taking a sick day</a> and still getting paid isn't an option, according to the Baltimore Sun. Fast food workers are especially likely to be part of that 40 percent.
Many fast food workers saw their health benefits put at risk this year, if they even had them at all. <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/11/09/papa-johns-obamacare-john-schnatter_n_2104202.html" target="_hplink">Papa John's CEO John Schnatter</a> said he would likely reduce some of his workers hours so that he wouldn't have to cover them in response to Obamacare. Jimmy John's founder, Jimmy John Liautaud told Fox News in October that <a href="http://www.foxnews.com/on-air/your-world-cavuto/2012/10/16/jimmy-johns-founder-business-owners-unsure-future" target="_hplink">he would "have to" cut workers' hours</a> so that he wasn't forced to cover them under Obamacare.
The average hourly pay at McDonald's, Wendy's, Burger King and Taco Bell is less than $8 an hour, according to <a href="http://www.cnbc.com/id/50015355" target="_hplink">salary data cited by CNBC</a>.
As more workers fight for limited jobs, many older employees are gravitating towards the fast food industry. The median age of a fast <a href="http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2012/11/mcjobs-should-pay-too-its-time-for-fast-food-workers-to-get-living-wages/265714/" target="_hplink">food worker is 28</a>, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics data cited by the Atlantic. For women, who make up two-thirds of the industry's employees, that age is 32.
Fast food worker's went on strike in late November in New York City, showcasing a rare effort to organize the industry's workers. Labor leaders often don't make an effort to organize these workers because the high turnover makes the challenge daunting.
For all their work, fast food workers get very little dough. The lowest paid job category in New York City is "Combined Food Service and Preparation Workers, Including Fast Food," according to Bureau of Labor Department Statistics <a href="http://www.salon.com/2012/11/29/in_rare_strike_nyc_fast_food_workers_walk_out/" target="_hplink">cited by Salon</a>.
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