Looking for ways to beat your sugar addiction? This article will help. It is easy to become hooked to sugar, because it is addictive and stimulates the same pleasure centres in the brain that cocaine and heroin do. Like any addiction, it can be tough to wean yourself off, but if you want to feel healthier, it’s a good idea to kick the sugar habit.
Most guidelines suggest that we eat too much sugar and would be better off if we halved the amount of added sugar we consume on a daily basis. In the UK, the recommendation is that adults do not consume more than 30g of 'free' sugars a day, that’s roughly equivalent to seven sugar cubes. Children need less than this. One fizzy drink contains 6-8 teaspoons of sugar – that’s the whole of an adult’s recommended daily intake.
Fruit contains fructose, which is metabolized differently than a huge bag of Liquorice Allsorts. However, you can eat too much fruit and should be careful to restrict your intake to a few servings a day. Eating too much fruit has been linked to increased belly fat, which increases your chance of type 2 diabetes. Also, go easy on grapes or cherries, which have high sugar content.
The truth is that we don’t need as much sugar as we think. We need glucose to give us energy, but we can get that naturally through eating foods such as wholegrains, vegetables and fruit. We don’t need fructose as much, and this is found naturally in fruit and honey. Some experts believe that we don’t need as much fruit as is often suggested and although it is a good source of fibre and vitamins, too much can give you an insulin spike. As a general rule, the higher the water content of the fruit, the less sugar. Oranges and melons are better than bananas in this case.
If you’ve decided to give up sugar you may be tempted to turn to artificial sweetener. This is a bad idea. The diet versions of food and drink (especially sweets) tend to contain aspartame, sucralose, saccharine — even stevia — and large amounts of these will make you desire even more sweet food. Your palate is changed. Find other ways to satisfy cravings.
When you decide to opt for a sugar-free existence you need to commit. Go through your cupboards, your fridge and your freezer and get rid of anything that contains sugar – or is sugar! This is your environment – you have the choice.
If you have a real craving for something sweet, it may be that your body has a deficiency. For example, if you crave chocolate, this may be because you need an increase in your levels of magnesium. You can find magnesium in dark leafy greens, tofu, legumes and nuts.
On the other hand, it is worth considering that cravings tend to be driven by the brain’s need for “reward” – and not the body’s need for food. If you can have a nibble of whatever you are craving and stop there, all well and good, but if you’ll binge on your craving, then you mustn’t give in. If your craving means you’re hungry, eat a proper meal. If you think you need a reward or some emotional solace, then find a better way to deal with this that does not mean consuming sugar.
Taking exercise lifts your mood, stimulates your hormones and raises your metabolism. By exercising – especially if you do it outside – you are rewarding your body and producing a natural high that should prevent your craving. You may be thirsty but make sure you sate your thirst with water and don’t reach for an energy drink.
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