Here’s the truth about sugar cravings, how to tame a wild sweet tooth and lose weight.
Can You Really Be Hooked on Sugar?
You say you can’t live without your daily donuts, but are you really “addicted” to sugar? The answer is complex. Sugar even affects the same “feel-good” brain hormones as street drugs. Nobody would say sugar is the same as heroin, but it can still mess with your brain and body.
Your Brain on Sugar
Sugar fuels every cell in the brain. When you overload on sugary foods, it may alter the parts of the brain that control how much you eat. In lab studies, rats that binged on sugar had brain changes like those getting off drugs. In humans, just seeing pictures of milkshakes triggered brain effects like those seen in drug addicts. It was strongest in women whose answers showed they were more hooked on eating.
Quick Sugar Highs…
Why do you get a rush when you eat a midday candy bar? The sugar in it – called a simple carbohydrate – is quickly turned into glucose in your bloodstream. Your blood sugar levels spike. Simple carbs are also found in fruits, veggies, and dairy products. But these have fiber and protein that slow the process. Syrup, soft drinks, candy, and table sugar don’t.
…And Sugar Lows
Your body needs to move glucose out of the bloodstream and into your cells for energy. To do this, your pancreas makes insulin, a hormone. As a result, your blood sugar level may have a sudden drop. Low blood sugar leaves you feeling shaky, dizzy, and searching for more sweets to regain that sugar “high.” So that midday candy bar has set you up for more bad eating habits.
Starch Can Equal Sugar
Think you don’t have a sweet tooth, but crave bagels, chips, or French fries? These starchy foods are complex carbs that the body breaks down into simple sugars. Eaten without low GI foods, starches can make blood sugar surge and crash like sugar. White rice, white flour, and potatoes do this. Highly refined starches like white bread, pretzels, crackers, and pasta are worst.
Retrain Your Taste Buds
You don’t need sugar as much as you think you do. In fact, you can train your taste buds to enjoy things that aren’t as sweet. Try cutting out one sweet food from your diet each week. For example, pass on dessert after dinner. Slowly reduce the sugar in your coffee or cereal. Over time, you will lose your need for that sugar taste.
Choose Good-for-You Sweets
You don’t have to give up sweetness. Just get it from other sources. Try fresh berries or pureed fruit on oatmeal instead of sugar. Explore fruit that’s dried, frozen, or canned fruit (without too much added sugar). A glass of low-fat milk or low-sugar yogurt can help.
Kick the Habit in Baby Steps
There’s no need to go drastic. If you make small, simple changes to your diet, it’s easy to keep them up. Start by eating more fruits and vegetables. Drink extra water. Use fewer processed products, which hide loads of sugar. Start buying foods without sugar and add just enough to satisfy your taste. Cut out a little bit of sugar each week. After a few weeks, you’ll be surprised at how little you miss it.
Let Protein Help
When you’re starving, every cookie cries out to you. Hunger robs you of the willpower to resist sugar cravings. Eating protein is an easy way to curb those cravings. High-protein foods digest more slowly, keeping you feeling full for longer. Protein doesn’t make your blood sugar spike the way refined carbs and sugars do. Pick proteins like lean chicken, low-fat yogurt, eggs, nuts, or beans.
Fill Up on Fiber
Fiber helps fight a sugar itch in many ways. First, it keeps you full. High-fiber foods also give you more energy. Because they don’t raise your blood sugar, there’s no hungry crash. Look for soluble fiber from fruits and vegetables, as well as insoluble fiber from whole grains. Or smear some peanut butter on an apple for a protein/fiber combo.
Exercise can’t “cure” a sugar addict. But it could change the way you eat in general. As people who work out start to feel better, they often feel a desire to eat more healthy foods. Do what you like, such as walking, riding your bike, or swimming. Just try to do it for at least 30 minutes at a time, five days a week.
The Truth About Fake Sugar
Wait before you sprinkle that packet of artificial sweetener into your coffee. It may leave you craving more sugar. That can make it harder, not easier, to control your weight. The problem is that fake sugars don’t help you break your taste for sweets.
Skip the ‘Healthy’ Sugars, Too
Honey, brown sugar, and cane juice may sound healthy. In truth, they’re about as bad for you as white table sugar. Sugar is sugar. Whether it comes from bees or sugar cane, it can cause your blood sugar to rise. Honey and unrefined sugars are slightly higher in nutrients. They still contain calories, which will go straight to your hips if you eat too much.
How Much Sugar Is Too Much?
If you’re like most people, you eat 19 teaspoons or more of added sugar a day. That adds up to 285 calories, which health experts say is way too much. How much sugar should you be eating? No more than six teaspoons daily for women. That’s 100 calories. Men should get a max of nine teaspoons. That’s 150 calories.
Sugar by Any Other Name
You don’t always see the word “sugar” on a food label. It can still be hiding inside the package under another name. Some fancy names for sugar:
- Agave nectar
- Brown rice syrup
- High-fructose corn syrup
- Evaporated cane juice
- Malt syrup
Packages that list any form of sugar in the first few ingredients, or contain more than four total grams of sugar aren’t worth the calories.
Scout Out Hidden Sugar
Sugar can hide in foods where you least expect it. Although they don’t seem sweet, tomato sauce, BBQ sauce, and pasta sauce can contain loads of sugar. So can reduced-fat salad dressings, bread, baked beans and some flavored coffees. Get in the habit of reading labels. Filter out high-sugar foods before they hit your shopping cart.
Does Sugar Cause Diabetes?
Sugar itself doesn’t cause diabetes. But lots of sugar splurges can point you there. They can trigger a chain of events that make you more likely to get the disease. Sugar can pack on pounds, for one thing. Overweight bodies have a harder time with insulin. When your body resists insulin, it increases your risk for diabetes.
Tame Sugar Withdrawal
When you first cut back on sugar, you may feel bad. You may feel tired, listless, or edgy. Luckily, this is very short-lived. Use goals to help get you through. For instance, vow to lose 5 pounds or to cut out desserts for a week. Get inspired by knowing that above all, you’re on the road to better health.
One of the easiest ways to curb sugar cravings is by taking 2 Manna Blood Sugar Support caplets with each meal. This product helps you to stay fuller for longer after a meal, as well as to prevent cravings for sweets.