Sugar is probably one of the most addicting substances that’s out there today and if you are someone struggling with this addiction, I can guarantee you are not alone.
Eating sugar causes serotonin, dopamine and endorphins to be released, which all contribute to making us “feel good”. Since we all want to feel good, we begin associating eating sugar with feeling good and our sugar cravings increase. Sugar actually stimulates the same brain receptors as heroin and morphine (sugar rush!) and it interferes with the hormones that let us know when we are full.
If you have a diet with a lot of sugar, kicking the sugar habit may cause withdrawal symptoms – headaches, fatigue and being irritable. Part of this is due to the yeast, parasites and bacteria in the digestive system and other parts of the body that are fed by sugar.
While many foods naturally contain sugar, you can experience significant health risks from adding too much to your daily diet – weight gain being just the icing on the cake (:p). It can also lead to insulin resistance, central obesity, depression, and other health risks over time.
So, if you’re trying to kick your sugar habit, try these 7 ways to get started.
#1 Read The Label
When you’re serious about actually detoxing from sugar, you may not actually be getting rid of all the foods in your diet that contain sugar. Look for words that end in “ose” as a clue to sugars like dextrose or words that include syrup, molasses or honey. All these can be added sugar ingredients. Don’t assume just because the product doesn’t taste “sweet” that it doesn’t have any added sugar. Items like: dressings and condiments, trail mix, yogurt, granola, crackers and bread.
How much is too much? Stick with less than 40g per day (there are naturally occurring sugars (fructose) in fruits and veggies that are GOOD to have in moderation)
#2 Eat More Natural Foods
One of the reason why people turn to sugar is that regular food doesn’t satisfy their cravings. If you’re not eating real foods (foods that grow on trees, in the ground or come from an animal) on a regular basis, then you’re going to find it hard to give up sugary foods. Instead, take the effort and buy natural foods that do not contain preservatives or additives (if you can’t pronounce the ingredients, it is probably not the best choice). Spend a little extra time cooking and you’ll start to notice the difference in your satiety, which will help you stay on track.
#3 Add Fruit To Your Meals
Fruit is naturally sweet and also full of nutrients and fiber. So, you can trick your taste buds into thinking that they’re getting something sweet by shutting down your cravings before you feel tempted to reach for that dessert. Try adding some blueberries or bananas into your oatmeal instead of brown sugar or a few slices of pineapple to your grilled chicken. Use your imagination and don’t be afraid to use fruit in your diet to help you with your plan!
#4 Take Probiotics
The naturally-occurring probiotics that live in your intestines not only help with digestion, but are part of the immune system. Sugar addiction causes yeast and bacteria to grow and take over the good bacteria you need as these microorganisms feed on sugar. Boosting your good bacteria by eating foods that contain probiotics – and even taking probiotic supplements – can help rebalance your body. Foods such as kefir, yogurt, and kombucha which is a fermented tea are good sources of probiotics. Read the labels though and make sure you get products that say live active cultures. You can also take supplements of high -uality acidophilus, bifidus or a full-spectrum probiotic formula to support your good bacteria growth.
#5 Increase Your Protein
Many people eat foods high in sugar and simple carbs because they find it gives them an energy boost to make it through the day. It does do this, but the flip side is that it often leads to a sugar crash from the ups and downs of your blood sugar levels. Protein throughout the day, starting with breakfast can help provide your body with the energy it needs on a stable basis all day and help regulate your mood. This would include eating foods like meats, nuts, beans, and dairy. As your body adjusts to this stability, sugar cravings will reduce.
#6 Plan Your Cheats
If you just feel like you are being too deprived and life is not worth living without your favorite sugary foods, then at least pick the best time and conditions in which to indulge. Pick one day a week to enjoy a sundae or frozen yogurt or enjoy it post workout when your body needs a higher glycemic carb for recovery. Save your snack for around half an hour after your workout and eat a protein source along with it.
#7 Cope With Stress
Stress can cause the brain to tell the adrenal glands to release adrenaline and cortisol, which can cause blood sugar levels and blood pressure to increase. That’s why we often crave sugary and fatty foods when we are stressed. Resist the urge and go for whole grain foods with fiber instead. Complex carb foods help keep your energy levels stable throughout the day so you won’t feel the need to get the sugar rush when you start dragging. Also, make sure to get enough good quality sleep, exercise consistently, maintain a social network of friends or family and make time for relaxation activities such as yoga or meditation to help reduce stress.