In a recent episode of the CBS TV show 60 Minutes, Dr. Robert Lustig stated that sugar is as addictive as cocaine. Sugar cravings certainly have all the same attributes, as the more you consume, the more your body craves another “fix.” The only way to beat the cycle of sugar addiction is by eating less and therefore craving less, but it’s not easy.
What are Sugar Cravings?
We often excuse sugar addiction with phrases such as “having a sweet tooth,” but those sugar cravings are down to hormones that are stimulated by the brain. When your body feels it lacks something essential, it creates cravings. In the case of sugar, it is reacting to a process in the body triggered by eating sugar on the first place.
The body needs glucose energy to operate and the main source is carbohydrates. If we eat a snack or meal containing sugar, such as a doughnut, the sugar hits the bloodstream fast. The hormone that controls blood sugar levels is insulin, which is released to process the sudden sugar surge. The energy surge quickly passes, leaving the body feeling low and lacking in energy. Naturally, it generates more sugar cravings, creating a cycle of sugar highs and lows along with insulin surges.
Once you understand how sugar addiction works, you can tackle the problem by eating a high protein, low sugar snack such as nuts or seeds. This provides the energy the body needs, but it is released slowly and steadily into the bloodstream. This means the energy and satisfaction last far longer than a doughnut sugar spike and there is no risk of high amounts of insulin surging around in the body.
How to Kick Sugar Addiction
According to the Department of Agriculture, the average American consumes 128 pounds of added sugar each year (22 teaspoons per day) yet the World Health Organization recommends no more than 6 teaspoons per day. Sugar is in many favorite foods, often disguised as high-fructose corn syrup, agave sweeteners, molasses, maltodextrin, dextrose and honey. Check the labels of some of your everyday foods and see the amount of sugars and carbs (which the body breaks down into glucose sugar) they contain. You are probably eating far more sugar than you ever imagined.
The best way to beat sugar cravings is by cutting down on processed and packaged foods. Make your own soups, sauces and dressings and use stevia if you need a touch of sweetness. Avoid trigger foods that feed your sugar addiction, such as nutella or cookies.
Banish candy from the desktop to reduce temptation. Wean yourself off sweet sodas (liquid candy) and substitute with water, green tea or other thirst-quenching alternatives. Even diet soda can trigger sugar cravings yet contains no nutritional value whatsoever. Once you kick those sugar cravings, you will gradually reset your taste buds, find renewed energy and have a healthier body.