Sugar addiction is something you may have suffered from at some stage of your life. If not a sugar addiction maybe those pesky 3pm sugar cravings. There are reasons why you crave sugar, and for the benefit of your health, you might like to take a look at ways to prevent cravings and how to remove sugar from your diet. Firstly, let’s find out why you crave sugar.
Why Do I Crave Sugar
Craving sugar may have something to do with hormone changes and unbalanced blood sugar levels. Your hormones are chemical messages which communicate throughout your entire body via your bloodstream (1). Eating too much, too little, stress, underactive thyroid, lack of exercise, yeast infection, menopause, PMT and aging may all affect your hormones and your blood sugar levels. Eating refined ‘bad’ carbohydrates such as white bread, chips, and pasta affects your blood sugar levels and affects your brain in such a way that you find maintaining the self-control of avoiding another bad carbohydrate rather challenging. You may find yourself craving something high in calories and carbs such as another refined carbohydrate.
How To Stop Eating Sugar
Removing sugar from your diet is challenging, as sugar is in so many foods, but it is achievable and definitely worth the effort. Educate yourself on exactly which foods contain sugar. Of course, we all know that doughnuts contain sugar and are definitely off the list, but what about healthy granola bars? Unless it is homemade, chances are high that although classed as ‘healthy’ it may also contain sugar. Current research is suggesting that regularly eating high amounts of sugar may lead to changes in your brain and behavior similar to the effects of drugs (2). Some experts even think that sugar is as unhealthy as smoking a cigarette and should be regulated in the same way. That’s an alarming study and thought considering so many of the foods on our supermarket shelves contain hidden sugars.
Withdrawal symptoms during the first few days or even a week of removing sugar can be unpleasant for some. Don’t underestimate how difficult this process may be, as sugar is highly addictive. Start removing sugar from your diet at the weekend so you can rest if necessary. Among other things, you may experience lack of energy, headaches and mood swings. Although in saying that, you may not notice any withdrawal symptoms.
Once you have an idea of which foods do and don’t contain sugar, create a positive mindset.
How To Create A Positive Mindset
- Become aware of your patterns.
- Control your conscious mind.
- Address your emotional attachments to sugar.
- Allow yourself nutritious treats when a sugar craving hits.
- Find a distraction and release your emotions.
- Journal and enjoy the journey.
Tips To Control Your Sugar Addiction
Protein helps enormously in controlling and preventing sugar craving by stabilizing your blood sugar levels throughout the day and eradicating those pesky 3pm sweet cravings. Eating protein with every meal helps control your dietary hormones insulin and glucagon. Insulin is a dietary hormone that your body produces when you eat carbohydrates. Insulin tells your body to store fat, creates inflammation throughout your entire body, and may increase bad cholesterol. Glucagon is a dietary hormone produced when you eat protein. This dietary hormone controls and balances insulin and prevents fat storage and weight gain. It increases your ability to lose weight and increases your P450 enzyme in your liver helping you detoxify while you are losing weight. In your diet enjoy heaps of green leafy vegetables, good quality protein, healthy fats, and a few complex carbohydrates. Also, try these tips to control your sugar addiction.
- Stay hydrated as dehydration can cause sugar cravings.
- Refreshing sleep every night is essential for managing sugar cravings.
- Reduce stress with a daily practice of yoga, meditation, walking in nature or talking to a friend.
- Make a batch of bliss balls containing chia seeds and cacao. Excellent for balancing blood sugar levels, satisfying your hunger and as a nutritious treat if a craving hits.
Fructose In Fruit
Fruit is packed with antioxidants and is very healthy, but overeating fruits which are high in fructose is unhealthy. Fructose is a liver toxin which may begin the process of fat production. Excess fat production may lead to high levels of bad cholesterol. The other major issue with fructose is that it may initiate an enzyme which lowers the activity of insulin receptors in the liver, which may lead to higher insulin levels. Some studies, although more research is needed, claim that fructose may increase your homocysteine levels which may lead to many health conditions and weak bones (3).
Enjoy low fructose fruits such as berries, oranges , grapefruit, apples, and pears. Avoid foods containing high amounts of fructose such as sucrose, honey, fruit juices, dried fruit, soft and sports drinks, and bananas. For example, while a banana with almond butter can be perfectly healthy, a banana smoothie with honey and dates is likely too much fructose for one meal.
How To Stop Sugar Cravings
Managing cravings whether they are sugar, alcohol, smoking or drugs can be hard to control (4). The most effective trick for preventing sugar cravings is to keep your blood sugar levels balanced. Blood sugar aka blood glucose is the sugar in your bloodstream which carries energy to your cells. Overeating sugar or simple carbohydrates cause your blood sugar levels to be consistently elevated which may lead to insulin resistance, pre-diabetes, and even type 2 diabetes.
The best way to keep your blood sugar and insulin levels balanced is to swap your refined carbohydrates for complex carbohydrates, increase quality protein and enjoy healthy fats with every meal (5).
How Carbohydrates Affect Your Blood Sugar Levels
Eating a refined carbohydrate such as a slice of white toast or a bowl of cereal for breakfast causes your blood sugar level to rise. Within two to three hours your blood sugar levels will fall, and you will crave another carbohydrate. So you eat another carb. This cycle can continue throughout the day. While you are asleep, your blood sugar levels continue to drop, which can disrupt your sleep, and when you wake up, you are tired, hungry and crave another carbohydrate and the cycle often begins all over again.
Enjoy complex carbohydrates as they release glucose slower than simple carbohydrates and maintain an equilibrium of energy. Healthy sources of complex carbohydrates include; quinoa, beans, lentils, brown rice, whole grain wheat, granary or rye bread, wholemeal pasta, oats, apples, pears, oranges, plums, berries, dark green leafy veggies, watercress, carrots, sweet potatoes, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, spinach, green beans, capsicum, nuts, seeds and oatcakes.
Avoid refined simple carbohydrates such as sugar, sweets, white bread, white pasta, white rice, alcohol, sauces, banana, raisins, and fast food.
Enjoy Healthy Fats
In your meals include some healthy fats such as coconut oil, flaxseed oil, olive oil, avocado, chia seeds, egg yolk. Healthy fats tell your body to release a dietary hormone called Leptin which helps satisfy your hunger for a few hours.
What Happens When You Stop Eating Sugar
The withdrawal symptoms may be caused by the biochemical reaction within your body when you stop eating sugar (6). Symptoms include bloating, fatigue, headaches, cramps, nausea, and cravings. How long these symptoms last varies enormously for everyone. Once these withdrawal symptoms are over you will start to feel full of vitality, motivation, and your skin will be glowing.
Removing sugar reduces glucose and insulin spikes. Removing sugar has a massive anti-aging effect both within your body and on your skin. Foggy thinking and sadness may be alleviated. Again, this shift in mood is related to no longer suffering the blood sugar dips and highs. Your hormones, immunity, gut, cholesterol, sleep, heart, brain and liver health will be in much better shape.
How Long Does Sugar Last
Sugar causes chaos with your mind and body including eroding tooth enamel, increasing your stress hormones cortisol and epinephrine. Depending on your metabolism and how much sugar you eat it may take up to five hours to process sugar.
Weaning yourself off sugar will make an incredible difference to your overall health, skin, mood, and vitality.