Feeling hooked on sugar?
According to studies (1), sugar is just as chemically addictive as nicotine, cocaine, and alcohol. But as any addict knows, one quick fix soon leaves you looking for another. The area of your brain associated with craving and reward lights up upon having sugar. When you try to eliminate added sugars for a day or two, focus diminishes, you feel unmotivated, tired and even moody. That doesn’t feel good, does it? So in trying to feel better, people will climb back on the sugar rollercoaster to get that feel good hit.
The problem with all of this is that sugar is killing us. It is not only making us fat and unhappy, but it contributes to inflammation and diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, infertility, depression, arthritis and more.
How do you kick your sugar addiction?
There are many reasons why people feel hooked on sugar. Undernourishment is one reason.
In general, we are consuming a lot of calories, excessive amounts of calories, but not a lot of nutrients e.g. vitamins and minerals. A person that consumes nutrient-rich foods generally does not crave sugars as much as the undernourished person. The undernourished person craves sugar because they want to feel food, they want energy. But here is the take home, it isn’t a case of the person craving sugar, the person is screaming for is nutrients to function optimally.
Here are some tips:
- Choose Whole Foods: The closer a food is to its original form; the less processed sugar it will contain. Food in its natural form, including fruits and vegetables, usually presents no metabolic problems for a normal body.
- Eat Regular Meals: For some people, going without meals or snacks can cause a drop in blood sugar levels. This doesn’t make us feel good and leads to poor snack decisions. If you have a blood sugar problem, seek professional advice.
- Eat Fat with Each Meal and Snack: This slows down the release of sugar into the bloodstream and therefore keeps you satisfied for longer. Some ideas: chia seeds with your morning oats, avocado in your lunch salad and almonds in your dinner stir-fry. Add olive oil to your cooking and salads.
- Take Quality Supplements: Nutrient deficiencies can make cravings worse and the fewer nutrient deficiencies, the fewer cravings. Some useful supplements to manage cravings include magnesium, zinc, and chromium.
- Get Enough Sleep: Sugar gives us a quick energy hit. Tiredness is a recipe for disaster. Not only do we need that energy hit, but we are less motivated to make good healthy decisions. An incredibly fatigued person is not likely to be cooking up a meal.
- Do A Sugar Detox: I believe in balance and moderation, but sometimes, the best thing is to go without for a couple of weeks to reset the body. Think of the saying ‘neurons that fire together stay together’. If we keep giving in to our desires, are strengthening those pathways. Going cold turkey may be what you need to break the circuit.
For more information on how to beat your sugar addiction contact me for a consult. It is a complex issue and can have many underlying drivers. I will delve into more of those drivers in later posts.