If you find yourself craving sweets more often than you’d like to admit, don’t worry, you aren’t alone. Over a third of the calories we consume daily come from sugar or white flour. Over-consumption of these highly refined sugars makes the body crave them even more. The body seeks out sweets so that it can experience an initial high, and soon crashes, ultimately making you crave more and more. Several research studies provide evidence about the potential effects of sugar on the brain in studies conducted on rats. These highs and lows that accompany a sugar addiction wreak havoc on your body by affecting your mood, decreasing your body’s immunity, and making you more at risk for chronic diseases like diabetes.
Before consulting with my clientele on removing most sugars from their diet, I have them get a general understanding of what sugars really are. Using this ‘Sugar IQ’ test will give you a basic understanding of sugars in our foods.
Dr. Frank Lipman explains that sugar is often compared to other drugs such as nicotine and cocaine, because our brains are essentially addicted to the opioids contained in sugar. Similar to many illegal drugs, sugar affects the addiction and reward pathways of the brain (refer to photograph displayed). We often associate sweets as treats and seek them out for a temporary boost. But similar to how the body reacts to other addictive substances, the quick fix soon leaves you wanting more, in order to achieve that moment of temporary satisfaction.
Is it worth it? Overindulging regularly with sugary treats can have serious implications on your health. Sugar addiction can lead to heart disease, weight gain, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol. You may think sugar is everywhere and unavoidable in your daily lives, but like many other addictions, being aware of your tendencies and reclaiming control can be the key to success.
The following are some tips to help kick your sugar habit and stay clean for good:
- Eat regularly – 5 small meals or 3 balanced meals and 2 snacks will keep your blood sugar levels in check and prevent you from reaching for sweets.
- Keep overall dietary sugars low. Learn to read food labels and recognize all the fancy words manufacturers use to disguise sugar ingredients in their products (examples include: high fructose corn syrup, dextrose, sucrose). Taking the Sugar IQ quiz will help you to better understand hidden sugars in our food supply.
- Take a multivitamin to help prevent nutritional deficiencies (FYI: vitamins are not a cure-all fix to a poor diet).
- Drink lots of water and curb your craving with a handful of berries!
Yours in Health,
Stella Metsovas B.S., CCN