This 1-Ingredient Gut-Healing Shot Basically Stops Sugar Cravings In Their Tracks

collage about gut shots

Illustration by Megan Doty / mbg Creative

My name is Liz Moody, and I'm addicted to sugar. I dream of brownies; I ask for the dessert menu before the dinner menu; when I'm traveling, I'll plan my day around an organic doughnut shop or a particularly famous piece of pie.

While I know that pleasure is an important part of wellness, I'm also keenly aware that sugar's power over me is consumptive and less than healthy. So, on January 1, I gently set down the leftover gingerbread cookies I'd been noshing through the end of December. "Goodbye, old friend," I whispered to the jolly gingerbread man in a (somewhat artful, thank you very much) Santa hat. "I'll miss you."

It has been, in a word, hard. It's actually been a number of words that we don't use on mbg, but I certainly use to my husband in the evening after I've finished my dinner and I just want a cookie. I deserve a cookie. It's just a cookie! Right?

There've been headaches, and cravings, and perhaps most surprisingly (and terrifyingly), a reckoning with what makes life meaningful when you eliminate some of its key high notes. But there's also been more energy. A clearer mind. And—again—that reckoning, the best and worst part of the practice. I want to live a life where I'm excited about more than the five minutes it takes to eat a cupcake.

While a number of things have helped in my no-sugar journey—including taking L-glutamine, drinking a ton of tea, and eating super-savory, umami-rich foods to flood my taste buds with flavors that aren't sweet—the biggest has been the discovery of what I've dubbed my "sugar-craving-killing shot" (yes, it's a mouthful. No, I don't really say that out loud). The SCKS (should we make this a thing?) is a derivative of one of my longtime sugar-craving busters: fermented foods. I've long eaten a big spoonful of sauerkraut when I can't stop thinking about cookies, and it works almost instantly. The pungent, sour flavor swings your palate 180 degrees from Candyland, but there's more at play to the remedy.

"Sugar cravings almost always come from yeast overgrowth. And vice versa, eating excess sugar can create a yeast imbalance where one didn't exist before," explains Vincent Pedre, M.D., an mbg Collective member and best-selling author of Happy Gut. "Fermented foods are a great example of a way to introduce little helpers—i.e., probiotic bacteria—that can help control the growth of and keep yeast in check. In fact, when there is yeast overgrowth, a fermented food, like kefir, can actually cause die-off symptoms. These are due to the rapid destruction of yeast with the release of mycotoxins into the circulation."

Sometimes, though, a lady doesn't want to just chow down on a bunch of sauerkraut. That's where the SCKS comes in. To make it, you simply place a nut milk bag or cheesecloth in a big bowl or large liquid measuring cup. Pour a bag of fermented vegetables (sauerkraut, beet, whatever works) into the bag or cloth, then wring out all of the liquid, reserving it as it comes through. Put the vegetables back in the jar and return them to the fridge, using them as you normally would, and store the liquid in a closed jar in the fridge as well. A big swig eliminates sugar cravings almost instantly—and, as Pedre explained, you're helping to rebalance your gut bacteria, which will help quell cravings in the long term.

If you don't want to make it yourself, Farmhouse Culture, Hawthorne Valley, and Wild Brine have ready-made versions that you can find in most natural grocery stores.

Is it enough to make me forget about my favorite chocolate chip cookies, with their perfectly crispy edges and chewy, rich center? Obviously not. But it's helping me regain control of my cravings, and for now, that's more than enough.

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