How To Break The Sugar Habit
Our sugar-laden diet is literally killing us. That’s the conclusion of a study reported at the annual meeting of the American Heart Association in March 2013. The study authors attributed 180,000 annual deaths worldwide25,000 in the United States aloneto sugary beverages. Sodas and fruit drinks aren’t our only sources of sugar. The average American eats between 22 and 30 teaspoons of added sugar each day, according to the AHA.
“The harmful effects of sugar are primarily due to the weight gain from added sugar in the foods we eat and sugar-sweetened beverages,” says Dr. Michelle Hauser, certified chef and nutrition educator and clinical fellow in medicine at Harvard Medical School. “Most of the deaths are related to heart disease, cancer, and diabetes.”
How much sugar do we actually need? According to AHA guidelines, women shouldn’t get more than 100 of our daily calories from added sugar. In reality, “you don’t need any added sugar,” Dr. Hauser says.
How To Fix A Sugar Addiction
- Eat regularly. Eat three meals and two snacks or five small meals a day. For many people, if they dont eat regularly, their blood sugar levels drop, they feel hungry, and are more likely to crave sweet sugary snacks.
- 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, especially when consumed in variety.
- Have a breakfast of protein, fat and phytonutrients to start your day off right.Breakfast smoothies are ideal for this. The typical breakfast full of carbs and sugary or starchy foods is the worst option since youll have cravings all day. Eating a good breakfast is essential to prevent sugar cravings.
- Try to incorporate protein and/or fat with each meal. This helps control blood sugar levels. Make sure they are healthy sources of each.
- Add spices. Coriander, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and cardamom will naturally sweeten your foods and reduce cravings.
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3. If you want a sweet treat, go for something low-glycemic and healthy that won’t trigger you.
Berries are great. I love eating big, juicy, red strawberries or copious amounts of blueberries . They are low-glycemic, meaning they produce very little sugar in your blood and body. They won’t trigger your addiction to sugar, and even if you ate a lot of them, there are virtually no negative consequences.
4. Be aware of the “just one drink” phenomenon.
Because of my interest in the addictive process, I have read the famous Alcoholics Anonymous “Blue Book,” said to be a good read for anyone with any addictive tendency .
The “just one drink” lie we tell ourselves is so true. People who struggle with alcohol will often tell themselves, after a stint of sobriety, that they can handle “just one drink” since they’ve been doing so well. They have that drink, and the addictive cycle in the brain gets triggered again. Before they know it, they are deeper into their addiction than ever before.
5. Don’t have it in the house.
This is a very simple rule of thumb, and it really works. I don’t fool myself into thinking I can resist having something sweet in my house. It will not last the week. Probably not even 24 hours. If I don’t have anything tempting in my house, and make it hard for myself to out and get it, that’s more than half the battle.
And don’t underestimate the power of sugar. Seriously.
Connect with Dr. Biali on and , and visit her website to receive a complimentary e-book.
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How Much Sugar Is Okay
If sugar is so bad for you, then is any amount of it okay? Sugar is not a required nutrient in the diet .
The Institute of Medicine, which sets the Recommended Dietary Allowances, has not issued a formal number for recommended or allowable grams of sugar per day one should consume.
The American Heart Association, however, suggests that the average man consumes no more than about 9 teaspoons of added sugar per day, and the average woman consumes no more than 6 teaspoons per day. That is about the amount in a 12-ounce can of soda.
Natural sugars, like those found in fruits and dairy milk, do not count. The focus is on added sugar, found primarily in things like ice cream, candy, cakes, cookies, regular sodas, and other ultra-processed foods.
Embrace A Gratitude Mindset
Its very difficult to replace a bad habit with a healthier lifestyle choice if we dont enjoy it. You can retrain your palate to enjoy healthier foods you may not have liked in the past. Get excited about feeling better and taking better care of yourself!
I find meditation to be a useful tool in changing subconscious thought patterns and breaking unwanted habits.
At the height of my unhealthy relationship with food, I thought of food in a negative way. I was so obsessed with it, that I would not even eat a banana, because it had too many carbs and too much sugar.
When I changed my perspective to understanding that food is good, beautiful, nourishing, strengthening, things changed for the better. While I no longer crave or even really enjoy sugary foods, I feel no guilt about eating a few bites of cake on a birthday, or even a double scoop of gelato on vacation. I dont believe in having any foods off-limits as we often want the things we cant have. Its the forbidden fruit syndrome.
I started to think like an athlete. Rather than dieting and exercising, I started training and eating. Can you feel the difference? The former is restrictive, while the latter empowering.
Think, know, and feel this: I feel best when I nourish my body and mind with whole foods. Sugar and processed foods make me feel sick, and Im tired of feeling sick.
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Q Sugar Substitutes Which Do You Prefer
Sarah: This is tricky. Even natural sugar substitutes like honey, coconut sugars and agave are still sugar. Im interested in the plant-based substitute, stevia.
For more information on Sarah, her eight-week programme to give up sugar, and her sugar-free recipes, visit sarahwilson.com. You can also buy her best-selling book, I Quit Sugar for Life .
Things You Should Know Before Giving Up Sugar
It seems like everyone is trying to cut down on the sweet stuff. Chocolate fiend and Good Food guinea pig Caroline Hire quit sugar for eight weeks and learned a few lessons along the way.
A friend showed up at my house this summer looking nothing short of fabulous. Shes always been healthy, a runner and health-food nut, but somehow something had taken her to a whole new level of loveliness. I quizzed her to discover shed done Sarah Wilsons 8-week I Quit Sugar programme. This was something I had to try.
However, it soon became clear it was not for the faint-hearted. Quitting sugar, Sarah-style, involved giving up all fruit, all sweeteners and most alcohols.
Still, I thought I knew what I was getting into. Apparently I didnt. Here are 10 things I wish Id known before giving up the sweet stuff
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Use Artificial Sweeteners Cautiously
Replacing sugar with low- or no-calorie sweeteners can help cut calories, but the safety of regularly consuming these artificial sweeteners is often questioned.
It has also been suggested that weight gain is a possible side effect, despite the reduced calorie count. This is due to the fact that artificial sweeteners may encourage eating behaviors that increase cravings not only for sweets but for food in general.
Lets Look At The Ways Sugar Wrongs Us
- suppresses your immune system
- Excess sugar consumption is linked to cancer and tumor growth
- promotes weight gain and obesity
- disrupts the mineral balance
- contributes to depression, anxiety and mood swings
- promotes gut dysbiosis and fungal overgrowth in the gut
- contributes to insulin resistance and diabetes
- can cause hormonal imbalances
- increases risk for Crohns disease and ulcerative colitis
- disrupt the bodys pH balance
- can cause hypoglycemia
- will reduce good HDL cholesterol and increase bad LDL cholesterol
- prohibits weight loss
Some people are more sugar sensitive than others, and part of that depends on your genetics. Regardless, you can bio-hack your diet by manipulating certain macronutrients, like protein and fat, to balance your blood glucose levels and ward off cravings.
Heres an example: Lets say you start your morning with coffee and a pastry. You probably feel pretty good because that sugar is plugging up feel-good receptors in your brain, and maybe you get a little high as your blood glucose levels spike. But a few hours later, you crash when your blood glucose plummets again, and then youre hungry, jittery, anxious, moody, irritable. You eat lunch, probably too much because youre starving and you miscalculated your hunger needs, and then you may feel tired as all your energy is diverted into digestion. You may crave sugar in the afternoon, because your body knows it gives you a quick energy boost. Does that rollercoaster sound familiar?
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Sometimes You Eat Sugar Without Even Knowing It
How many people actually read the nutrition facts of products at stores? Sadly, not many.
But those advertisements are very often deceiving and what could be pictured as a healthy product good for weight loss can actually be an absolute diet-killing sugar bomb!
The sad thing is, if we cross out all products with unnecessary added sugar, were only left with a very small amount of products which are truly healthy and can be called good food. And these products are almost only unprocessed foods, such as grains, vegetables, etc.
So when trying to cut down on your sugar intake, dont forget to make this crucial step of checking out the nutrition facts of the products you are buying!
You may also find this article of 5 foods you should never eat useful.
Sugar Has Zero Nutritional Value
Thats right. No vitamins, minerals, no NOTHING. Sugar is literally plain calories. And after you have some, youll only want more because it wont make you full.
Thats why people have inadequate amounts of sugar. Because they just dont know when to stop. They think if theyre still hungry, that means they havent had enough. And again, and again, and the circle never ends.
But next time you have sugar, remember how absolutely useless it is and dont give in to the feeling of needing more of it!
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Q Why Do You Believe We Need To Cut Back On Sugar
Sarah: We simply dont need it. We need glucose for energy, but our bodies can get that from eating wholegrains, vegetables and fruit. The fats in our diet are also a source of energy. We dont need fructose, the form in which most of us eat sugar, which includes fruit and honey. I cut back on sugar as an experiment after being ill with various problems, including a thyroid complaint.
Top 10 Big Ideas: How To Detox From Sugar
Heres the not-so-sweet truth. We are killings ourselves by consuming truckloads of hidden sugar.
Sugar is the New Fat
Despite 40 years of Americans being brainwashed into thinking that fat is bad, it turns out its sugar, not fat, that makes you sick and overweight.
The facts are in, the science is beyond question. Sugar in all its forms is the root cause of our obesity epidemic and most of the chronic disease sucking the life out of our citizens and our economy and, increasingly, the rest of the world. You name it, its caused by sugar: heart disease, cancer, dementia, type 2 diabetes, depression, and even acne, infertility and impotence.
The average American consumes about 152 pounds of sugar a year. Thats roughly 22 teaspoons every day for every person in America. And our kids consume about 34 teaspoons every day thats more than two 20-ounce sodas making nearly one in four teenagers pre-diabetic or diabetic.
Flour is even worse than sugar. We consume about 146 pounds of flour a year. Think about it. Thats about one pound of sugar and flour combined every day for every man, woman and child in America. And flour raises blood sugar even more than table sugar. Even whole-wheat flour.
Food Addiction: Is It Real?
Heres another shocking fact: Sugar is eight times as addictive as cocaine.
Why You Need a Sugar Detox
1. Make a decision to detox
2. Be a turkey
3. Dont drink your calories
4. Power up the day with protein
5. Eat unlimited carbs
6. Fight sugar with fat
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How Long Should You Detox From Sugar
This will depend on your personal goals. Just need a reset after too much indulgence? 5 days is fine.
However, if like mine, your relationship with sugar has become a habit or physical addiction, 30 days is a good start. Many people find that it takes about a month to break a habit, however, other research suggests it may take much longer. Furthermore, to break a habit, one must replace it with another behavior.
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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Eat A Naturally Sweet Snack
When a craving hits, instead of running for the candy drawer try something that will give you fuel, too. “If you need a shot of sugar along with energy that will last longer, try making a trail mix with almonds, dried fruit, and a few dark chocolate chips,” says Bonnie Taub-Dix, RDN, creator of BetterThanDieting.com and author of Read It Before You Eat It Taking You from Label to Table. “This snack is portable and will not only provide that sweetness you crave, but you’ll also get protein and healthy fat from the nuts, and iron and fiber from the fruit.”
Why Is Sugar Addictive
Many people simply wonder why sugar is addictive. Certainly, not many people report an addiction to broccoli, so there has to be a reason! That reason is found in the chemical release of hormones in our brain when we eat sugar.
With every sweet bite, dopamine is released from our brain into our bodies. This is the link between added sugar and addictive behavior that is also found in substances such as alcohol, cigarettes, and illegal drugs.
The neurotransmitter dopamine is part of the reward circuit in the brain thats associated with addictive behavior. The high one feels from eating sugar makes one addicted to said behavior , creating a vicious cycle.
As you repeat the behavior more often your body adjusts to release less dopamine over time. The only way to feel the same high as before is to increase the release of dopamine, which in this case means to eat more and more sugar.
These same behaviors are found in people with drug and alcohol dependencies, but for sugar, the ingredient is much more accessible, available, and socially acceptable than illegal drugs, making it also much harder to avoid in everyday life.
On average, an average adult in the U.S. consumes around 77 grams of sugar a day, or about 60 pounds of sugar per year!
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Q How Do You Help People Wean Themselves Off Sugar And Stay Off It
Sarah: Ive organised a realistic eight-week plan in my book, but one of my main messages is that to cut out sugar for life, you must eat more good fats. Ive talked to many groups of young women who say that theyve tried my programme and they find it tough, and theyre still hungry. So I ask them if theyve added fat to their diet, and most of them are horrified. But that is my number one secret lose the sugar, eat more fat. Good ways to do this are by drizzling butter, nut or olive oil over steamed vegetables, and adding avocado, nuts or cheese to salads.
Go For Portion Control
Because sugar addiction is biologicalnot emotional as is so often thoughtthis might not work for everyone. Many people can’t live by “three-bite rules,” but that doesn’t mean there’s any harm in trying. “A good way to do this is to buy higher sugar foods in single serving sizes to help with portion control in the moment,” Paul says. If you don’t have more than four Oreos at home, you can’t eat more than four Oreos.
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Sugar Addiction And Emotional Eating
People may find sugars ability to provide instant energy, combined with the good taste of sugary foods, enticing. Sugar provides some with a quick fix during a long and stressful day. People who are enduring breakups or other emotionally stressful situations often turn to chocolate or pints of ice cream to comfort themselves during the difficult time. However, those who turn to sugar to deal with emotional issues are more likely to become addicted. Other indications of sugar addiction for emotional relief are weight gain and difficulty focusing on daily responsibilities. These side effects can damage self-esteem, cause feelings of helplessness, and lower self-worth this in turn leads to more sugar consumption and a more severe addiction.