Are you addicted to sugar? Do you find yourself craving sweet foods or sugary drinks during the day?
According to Dr. Mark Hyman, there are five clues to look out for that may signal you are addicted to sugar:
- You consume sugary foods even if you are not hungry because you just crave it.
- You worry about cutting down on sugary foods.
- You feel sluggish, tired or fatigued when you have had too many sugary foods.
- You have health or social problems because of your sugar or food issues and yet you keep eating them despite any negative consequences.
- You need more and more sugary foods to experience any kind of pleasure or to reduce any negative emotions.
Is it really an addiction? Yes, it sure is. Sugar stimulates the brain’s reward centers through the neurotransmitter, dopamine, which is exactly like other addictive drugs.
The American Heart Association recommends that women have no more than 100 calories of sugar per day (about six teaspoons) and for men, no more than 150 calories of sugar per day (about nine teaspoons).
Any idea how much sugar is in some of the foods you are eating?
- A liter of soda with 124 grams of sugar is equal to 31 sugar cubes.
- Two pancakes with ¼ cup of syrup is equal to about 9 sugar cubes.
- One chocolate chip cookie has 18 grams of sugar which is equal to about 4 ½ cubes of sugar.
You can see just how easily we consume sugar during the day without even thinking about it.
Some estimates show that approximately 33% of added sugar intake is based solely on soft drink consumption. All of this added sugar increases the risk for obesity which is then responsible for increasing risk for heart disease, cancer, diabetes, stroke and other diseases. In addition, eating too much sugar also messes up your ability to think clearly because it impairs signals to your brain cells.
How can you bust your sugar addiction?
- Exercise – it will help you to change your eating habits and can help to get rid of sugar cravings! 30 minutes per day, 5 x per week is a great habit to get into and soon you may crave exercise over sugar.
- Drink more water – sweet cravings can sometimes be a sign of dehydrations so before you reach for candy, have a glass of water and wait a few minutes before you reach for sugar.
- Increase your fiber – high fiber foods are great because they will give you energy and will fill you up. The tend not to raise your blood sugar and so you don’t get the “crash” afterward. Good choices include fruits, veggies and whole grains.
- Eat more protein – high protein foods take longer to digest and make you feel full longer and won’t spike your blood sugar the way refined carbs and sugars will. Good choices include lean meat, chicken, low-fat yogurt, eggs, nuts and beans.
- Choose natural sweets – fresh berries and fruits are great to add to cereal or yogurt instead of sugar. Dried, frozen or pureed, no matter how you use them, they will always be healthier than added or artificial sweeteners.
- Get more sleep – when you are sleep deprived and exhausted, your body will crave the quickest form of energy it can find which is normally sugar.
- Add some spice – adding things like coriander, nutmeg, cardamom, cinnamon and cloves to your food naturally sweetens them and will help to reduce cravings.
- Slow down on caffeine – the more caffeine you consume, the more dehydrated you become and it can cause swings in your blood sugar causing cravings more often.
Don’t try to go cold turkey all at once as it is most often a losing proposition. Start by eliminating small amounts of sugar every week until you reach the recommended daily amounts. Your body will thank you and your addiction will be BUSTED!
Heidi Smith is a certified integrative nutrition health coach, corporate wellness specialist, certified meeting professional and author. You can find her book Milk. Toast. Available now on Amazon.com.