Sugar addiction is something you may have suffered from at some stage of your life. If not a sugar addiction, maybe a pesky 3 pm sugar craving every day? There are reasons why you crave sugar, and for the benefit of your health, you might like to examine ways to prevent cravings and how to remove sugar from your diet.
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, PMS and aging all affect hormones and blood sugar levels. Eating refined (bad) carbohydrates such as white bread, chips, and pasta affects blood sugar levels and the brain in such a way that self-control becomes challenging. The hamster wheel of eating carbs, then craving more carbs becomes a vicious cycle.
How To Stop Eating Sugar
Removing sugar from your diet is challenging because sugar is added to many foods. But it’s not impossible! Educate yourself on exactly which foods contain sugar. We all know that doughnuts and candy contain sugar, but what about seemingly healthy products like granola bars or fiber muffins? Unless homemade, chances are it’s loaded with sugar. Current research suggests 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.
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; sugar is highly addictive! Start removing sugar from your diet over the weekend so you can rest if necessary. Among other things, you may experience lack of energy, headaches and mood swings. Some people don’t 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 blood sugar levels throughout the day and eradicating afternoon slumps and 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 the P450 enzyme in your liver helping you detoxify during weight loss. 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. Dehydration can cause sugar cravings.
- Sleep deep. Every night is essential for managing sugar cravings.
- Reduce stress. A daily practice of yoga, meditation, walking in nature or talking to a friend really helps.
- Make a batch. Bite-sized treats containing chia seeds or flax, plus cacao, balance blood sugar levels and satisfy your hunger.
Fructose In Fruit
Fruit is packed with antioxidants but must be eaten in moderation. 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, leading 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, 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 (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 that carries energy to your cells. Overeating sugar or simple carbohydrates cause your blood sugar levels to become 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 fall, and cravings for carbohydrates rise. So, you eat another carb. This cycle continues indefinitely. While you sleep, blood sugar levels continue to drop, which can disrupt your sleep, and when you wake up, you feel tired, hungry and crave more carbohydrates, initiating the cycle all over again.
Enjoy complex carbohydrates over simple carbohydrates to maintain an equilibrium of energy. Healthy sources of complex carbohydrates include: quinoa, beans, lentils, brown rice, whole grain wheat, 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
Include some healthy fats like: 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 hunger for a few hours.
What Happens When You Stop Eating Sugar?
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 end, you should start to feel full of vitality and motivation.
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 highs and lows of blood sugar. Your hormones, immunity, gut, cholesterol, sleep, heart, brain and liver health will be in much better shape.
Sugar causes chaos in your mind and body. Other negatives include: eroding tooth enamel and increasing the stress hormones cortisol and epinephrine. Begin the weaning today for a brighter and better future!