Are Artificial Sweeteners Safe
If you place an order at your local coffee shop, it’s no longer a question of if you want cream or sugar added. Artificial sweeteners are just as popular of an option nowadays to help curb sugar habits.
These synthetic sugar substitutes received a bad reputation years ago for their link to cancer, but subsequent studies haven’t found a clear connection to causing cancer in humans, according to the National Cancer Institute.
With those concerns out of the way for now, the FDA has approved five artificial sweeteners for use: aspartame , acesulfame-K , neotame, saccharin and sucralose .
But just because the FDA approves their use doesn’t mean you should swap sugar for artificial sweeteners and keep the same diet. Artificial sweeteners can temporarily help by weaning you off added sugars, but long-term use could play a role in how you view foods.
Think of artificial sweeteners as a concentrated version without the calories a little goes a long way. According to Harvard Health, the sweetness from artificial additives can make you more likely to develop a sweet tooth and crave sweets even more. Plus, the psychological component can alter the way you think. For example, if you tell yourself you’re saving calories by drinking a diet soda instead of a regular soda, you may be more inclined to eat cake for dessert. In this case, you cancel out any benefits of drinking a diet soda with something full of added sugars.
Why Dont I Overeat Bananas But I Binge On Candy
A few things are at play. First, those blood sugar spikes leave many people feeling hungry again not long after eating, which often leads to overeating.
Second, studies show that refined sugar can be addictive. One study used PET scans to look at the brain activity of obese individuals and found they are less responsive to dopamine, similar to drug addicts and alcoholics. Without that dopamine surge, people keep craving sugar long after theyve reached their limit.
The good news? Its possible to break the cycle.
Sugar Cravings: Why We Have Them & How To Stop Them
A food craving is an intense urge or desire to eat a specific type of food. Its not the same as hunger. We can crave a food, for example, right after a meal. One of the most common cravings is for sugary foods. Some people can indulge their sugar cravings without repercussions. For others, giving in repeatedly to cravings can undermine workouts or lead to health issues weight gain, mood swings, diabetes, and more. In some cases, the information below on the origins of sugar cravings may differ from what youve read elsewhere. Were typically told that sugar cravings result from low glucose, or emotions, or biological need. These explanations have some validity but leave much unexplained. Lets look at some other possible reasons real reasons for sugar cravings.
Real Reason #1: Too Little Fat in Your Diet
Science journals refer to the Sugar/Fat Seesaw. As the name implies, its an inverse relationship in how much fat and sugar we eat. As one decreases in the diet, the other increases. Fats stabilize blood glucose and can help us control sugar cravings that way. But fats can help us eliminate sugar cravings for other reasons. When I was working on my Ph.D., no explanation for the sugar/fat seesaw existed in the science lit. In my dissertation, I offered a two-part explanation.
Part 1: When fat enters the small intestine, a hormone called CCK is released. CCK reduces hunger, appetite and the desire for carbs.
Real Reason #2: Withdrawal
Real Reason #3: Triggers
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Signs Of A Sugar Addiction
Unlike many other substance use disorders or behavioral compulsions, sugar addiction is often easy to spot. The clearest signs of sugar addiction involve consumption of large amounts of food or drinks laden with sugar. The individual may eat constantly, eat to combat boredom, and become hyper and crash. They may even talk about craving sugar after stressful or irritating life experiences.
Monitor Your Sleep Patterns
Whether you sleep well or not, your blood sugar increases every night as a part of the natural human circadian rhythm cycle. Many studies have confirmed that short sleepers alter your appetite-regulating hormones. These people crave added sugar, have irregular eating habits, and snack on unhealthy food items.
Getting a good nights sleep helps you lower stress levels, improve your memory, and help you make healthier food and lifestyle choices. It will also be beneficial for your health to avoid daytime napping.
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What Can Your Sugar Cravings Say About Your Health
As discussed above, a sugar craving could mean that your body is lacking a vitamin or nutrient, or that your blood sugar levels are off.
Registered dietitian Farah Fahad recommends adding more protein to your meals, so your blood sugar levels dont drop. The body is a well-built machine, and if you are not giving it the right foods, it will say, Give me sugar! she explains. It wants energy for all the thousands of biological processes that are happening.
Give Your Mouth Something To Do
Another great way to stave off sugar cravings is to give your mouth another distraction. Whether it’s chewing sugar-free gum, drinking a cup of warm herbal tea, or just doing something else, allow the craving to pass. “Allow enough time to pass while you drink or wait for the piping hot tea for you to think through the craving,” Moreno says. Most cravings last no longer than 30 minutes.
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Tips To Smash Sugar Cravings
Note that you dont have to and may not need to completely avoid sweet foods. Sweet is one of the 5 basic tastes, and some people find that completely avoiding sweet foods intensifies the cravings.Others, however, find sweet foods triggering.
Treat yourself to sugar free treats made with monk fruit or stevia, like this cashew cake batter pudding. Or even a piece of fruit with nut butter. Some people avoid binge behavior by just satisfying cravings for sweets with some dark chocolate or something sweet. This is not true for everyone, however: Some people may experience serious binge reactions if they eat sweet foods.
Here are some tips to keep blood sugar stable and cravings in check:
If you overdid it: The day after a sugar binge, start off with 8 ounces hot water and the juice of 1/2 a lemon to detoxify, and drink green vegetable juices if you have access to alkalize the body sugar is very acidic. Then stick to protein & veggies & plenty of good fats, like avocado, throughout the day to reset yourself.
Follow The 85/15 Rule
“Make sure 85% of your meals include innately healthy foods like fresh produce, lean protein, and healthy fats. The other 15% can include some treats,” Scarlata says. “If you make certain foods forbidden, then you just crave them even more. And truthfully, I don’t think there is a need to give up sugar entirely.” A little treat here and there never hurts.
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Satisfy Your Sweet Tooth The Natural Way
So with the elimination of refined sugars as well as artificial sweeteners, you may be wondering what CAN you use to appease those sweet tooth urges from time to time? The answer is simple: nature!
Referring back to our early ancestors, its worth noting that sugar as we know it wasnt always the go-to sweetener for beverages, desserts, and everyday flavorings.
Raw honey is the oldest form of sweetener used by civilizations around the world, and while that may not be a feasible option in the case of a full-blown sugar overhaul, you can still take a page from similar alternatives that are still in use today.
The spice rack is a fantastic place to start in finding tasty, sugar-free alternatives to keep you on track. Cinnamon, vanilla bean extract, ginger, anise, nutmeg, and cardamom are some of the oldest flavorings used to sweeten up dishes, pastries, and drinks.
You can add these to your coffee and cereals or incorporate into baking for a subtly sweet taste with zero calories, crashes, and other harmful side effects.
In addition to your natural sweetener arsenal, citrus zest adds a refreshingly fruitiness to desserts and sparkling water beverages.
Dangers Of Sugar Addiction
Pancreas: Your pancreas releases insulin when you eat sugar. If you consume excess sugar, your body wont respond properly to insulin, forcing it to produce more insulin than normal. The added pressure on your pancreas can lead to heart disease and Type 2 diabetes.
Kidneys: Your kidneys filter blood sugar to an extent. Excess sugar prevents the kidneys from functioning properly, as it slips into your urine. Once you develop diabetes, excess sugar intake can lead to kidney damage and prevent them from filtering blood sugar and waste from your body, subsequently leading to kidney failure.
Teeth: Added sugars like corn syrup, sucrose and high fructose are loaded with calories and empty calories. Sugar provides energy for bad bacteria to destroy your teeth.
Cancer: Cancer is a leading cause of death and is characterised by cell multiplication and uncontrolled growth. Insulin regulates this type of growth, making it crucial not to have elevated insulin levels. Consuming high amounts of sugar increases insulin levels and could consequently lead to cancer.
Sexual health: Sugar prevents men from getting an erection and can cause impotence. According to Dr Brunilda Nazario of WebMD, high sugar levels affect your circulatory system, which pushes blood to ensure you get an erection.
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Anxiety And Addiction To Sugar
This is no different for sugar and anxiety. However, this link is becoming more widely known for quite some time. A major cause for an increase in anxiety and panic disorders is weight gain, and part of what is driving this weight gain is excessive sugar intake. Beyond this, eating too much sugar will result in an individual becoming overstimulated, which can result in heightened anxiety.
For those individuals with a history of anxiety disorders, too much sugar can result in more panic or anxiety attacks. It also results in a vicious cycle of depression and anxiety, fluctuating with the amount of sugar that they eat.
Many physicians and psychiatrists suggest that you limit or avoid foods that are high in sugar if you want to get your depression and anxiety under control . Yet limiting your sugar intake can be difficult. It takes research and help in order to figure out just how much sugar you are currently eating and how you can best wean yourself off of this pervasive and tasty substance.
Make Sure Youre Getting Enough Calories
Sounds like a joke, right? But often when were dieting, we restrict too much and end up with cravings. When you dont eat enough, or you eat the wrong things, your body starts looking for fuel fast, as a way to catch up. So what does it do? Crave sugar! Sugar gives you quick energy, even though its not quality energy.
The only way to get around this is to eat whole foods, and break the sugar cravings cycle once and for all.
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What You Can Expect When You Go Off Sugar
If you take a break from sugar, you’ll find your tastes and cravings begin to change very quickly.
Its a simple science experiment that will prove something interesting to you: that you are stronger than you think.
You are actually innately drawn to the colors, textures, and flavors of real food. That is your genetic programming, and those natural, whole foods are what your ancestors ate for thousands of years.
You cant discover this UNLESS you quit sugar for four days.
I know you can do it. My first four days off sugar were much, much harder than the subsequent 361.
Choose the days of the week you face the fewest temptations, and plan ahead with delicious, flavorful, whole-food meals that will fill you and satisfy your taste buds.
Now, if you dont find the sugar cravings completely disappearing after four days?
Whatever you do, dont let Shame grab you by the throat. It serves no one. Behaviors driven underground flourish in the darkness. Say no to Shame!
Youre no different from meand I make a living telling people how to eat healthy.
It takes some people a little bit longer, often because they have candida yeast overgrowth or they eat higher-than-average amounts of sugar or soda.
Sugar is more addictive than crack cocaine. Multiple studies have proven it.
But its actually quite amazing what four days off the nice girls crack will do for your confidence level. Sugar does not own you, and you CAN break your sugar addiction.
Give Into Your Craving Then Move On
“If a craving for something sweet like a piece of chocolate or a scoop of ice cream persists, just have it,” says Jessica Levinson, MS, RDN, CDN, and author of 52-Week Meal Planner. “Trying to satisfy cravings with other ‘healthier’ foods or restricting yourself from having a food you’re craving often leads to overeating. As is often said, the forbidden fruit tastes the sweetest.” So, eat your piece of cake, don’t feel bad, and then move on.
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You Always Crave Sweets
After a sugar binge, your blood sugar will fall because insulin pushes that sugar into the cells to prevent sugar damage, explains Carolyn Dean, MD, ND, a health, diet and nutrition expert and author of Hormone Balance, The Magnesium Miracle and The Complete Natural Medicine Guide to Womens Health. That fall causes low blood sugar and more cravings.
There Is Hope For You
Change begins with realizing that there is a problem with ones sugar addiction. Modifying ones diet and practicing self-control can help, but going cold turkey isnt ideal. Someone with a sugar addiction, especially if they have another substance abuse disorder or a co-occurring mental health condition, will likely have difficulty in ridding themselves of cravings. If you or someone you know has a sugar addiction, especially if complicating factors are present, please contact a dedicated treatment provider today to find out more about your options.
Deborah Montross Nagel
All of the information on this page has been reviewed and verified by a certified addiction professional.
Deborah has a Masters Degree from Lesley University and has been certified as an Addictions Counselor in PA since 1986. She is currently a Certified Advanced Alcohol and Drug Counselor CAADC. She is nationally certified as a MAC Master Addictions Counselor by NAADAC . Her 37 years of experience and education are in addiction, recovery, and codependency. Addiction affects the entire system around the addict. There is no “bad guy” in the system. Fight the addiction, and help the addict. I help loved ones restore sanity to their lives and hence encourage change. Recovery is possible!
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How To Break A Sugar Addiction: 7 Powerful Tips
26 Best Ways To Break Sugar Addiction Naturally Today Kick The Addiction Off Fast. 1. Eat Regular. To overcome overeating habit, in general, and sugar craving, in particular, it is recommended that instead of eating three large meals every day, people should eat from five to six small meals or three meal and two snacks per day.
Master Herbalist Clair Moore has some herbal remedies that can help you cope with your sugar addiction and stop your sugar cravings naturally. And you will be pleasantly surprised to find most of these herbs in your kitchen pantry! Read on to learn how herbs can help you beat your sugar cravings naturally, plus easy ways to incorporate these herbs into your daily routine.
Are Artificial Sweeteners Better
Artificial sweeteners, which are sugar-free and typically lower in calories than sugar, might seem like healthier options, but that idea is controversial. A 2012 scientific statement from the AHA concluded that using artificial sweeteners such as aspartame , saccharin , and sucralose can reduce the number of calories in your diet, thereby helping you lose weight.
However, there’s also evidence that eating these sweeteners, which are generally hundredsor even thousandsof times sweeter than sugar, can make you crave sweets even more. You undermine the benefit of using artificial sweeteners, for example, if you use a glass of diet soda to justify having a bowl of ice cream.
However, if artificial sweeteners can help you cut back on calories in a meaningful way, then they can be helpful in controlling weight and blood sugar. “For people who are trying to make small changes to their diet, artificial sweeteners are sometimes a good stepping stone, but they’re not a permanent fix,” Dr. Hauser says.
You may wonder which artificial sweetener is best. All of the sweeteners on the market are considered safe. There were reports during the 1970s linking saccharin to bladder cancer in rats that were fed extremely high doses of the sweetener. However, later studies didn’t find any evidence of the same effect in humans. Aspartame was also linked to cancer at one time, but that association has also been disproved.
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S To Kick Sugar Addiction
Here are the top ways to reduce sugar cravings. There are really four main steps. You need to get more fiber, more protein, more healthy fat and consume sour foods. If you follow those steps, and a fifth one well add here, those things will help you overcome your sweet addiction and sugar cravings.
1. Get more protein in your diet
Protein actually will help balance out blood sugar and so that really helps reduce sugar cravings. That really is the biggest reason there. Some of the best protein foods out there to help kick sugar addiction include:
- Grass-fed beef
- Raw cheese
2. Consume more healthy fats
Your body can burn sugar for energy or fat for energy. If you stop consuming as much sugar, start consuming more fat. Just make sure its healthy fats, the kind common in the Mediterranean diet. Your body will become a fat burner, which will also help weight loss, but that will actually help kick sugar addiction. The best fat for that is actually coconut or coconut oil.
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3. Get more fiber
Fiber helps you stay fuller longer. It also supports detoxification and can reduce candida symptoms in your body. Candida is a major cause of sugar cravings. You want to aim for 3540 grams of fiber a day. Start consuming more high-fiber foods, especially vegetables and nuts and seeds, like chia seeds and flaxseeds.
Other good sources of fiber include:
- Salted gherkin pickles
5. Switch to stevia
The three main types stevia are: