Sugar is bad and we need to stop eating so much of it.
The problem is that we’re addicted. Somewhere between that first taste of cotton candy to the Red Bull you had this morning, your brain became addicted to the natural opioids that are triggered by sugar consumption. While it seems less scary, it’s like any other drug: your brain gets used to it, sends out excessive reward signals and craves more.
And it’s not just your brain that suffers after excessive sugar consumption. Sugar, like any other illegal drug, can cause long-lasting health problems like diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure and cholesterol and premature aging. Sugar has essentially become a socially acceptable illegal drug. Except it is so legal. In fact, it has become the ultimate sign of caring and love, all around us on Valentine’s day.
So how should you kick the habit? First advice: don’t go cold turkey. You’ll just get frustrated. Here are ten tips to help you get started.
1. Eat regularly. Try to get in five meals a day. If you can’t do that, go for three meals with two small snacks. Many people who eat less experience a drop in blood sugar that makes them crave sugar unnecessarily.
2. Choose whole foods. Eating unprocessed, natural foods, especially fruits and vegetables, gives you natural sugars that won’t leave your brain craving more later.
3. Get enough sleep. When you’re tired, you’re way more likely to pull over for an giant energy drink on your way to work. Feeling rested will reduce that craving.
4. Don’t substitute artificial sweeteners for sugar. This won’t trick your brain. In fact, it will just make it crave real sugar.
5. Drink lots of water. Lots of times, we mistake thirst for hunger. Staying hydrated is the only way to make sure your brain isn’t tricking you.
6. Have a piece of fruit. You can give in to your craving with a piece of fruit, which should satisfy and be a safe source of sugar.
7. Try to incorporate protein or fat into every meal. Healthy servings of protein or fat will help control blood sugar levels.
8. Take a good quality multi-vitamin. Nutrient deficiencies can make cravings worse and the fewer nutrient deficiencies, the fewer cravings. Certain nutrients seem to improve blood sugar control including chromium, vitamin B3 and magnesium.
9. Add spices. Coriander, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and cardamom will naturally sweeten your foods and reduce cravings.
10. Familiarize yourself with sugar terminology. Recognize that all of these are sweeteners: corn syrup, corn sugar, high fructose corn syrup, sucrose, dextrose, honey, molasses, turbinado sugar and brown sugar.
List courtesy of Dr. Frank Lipman from the Huffington Post