Craving: The Intense, urgent, or abnormal desire or longing – and sugar cravings are no different but that is where the similarities end
We have all been there when it comes to sugary treats whether it be some form of chocolate a delicious piece of gooey cake a sumptuous rich after dinner dessert or a cream laden sugar coated something with your mid-morning coffee.
But what we are all really craving for is …. the sugar! Even if we don’t know it, our brain does and it’s ready for a fix .
Yes, I am afraid to tell you that like many, myself included, you are addicted to sugar without realizing it. For many, sweet treats have become a comfort food. Some people simply accept that they have a ’sweet tooth’ and make claims about in running in the family. The bottom line is that sugary foods espcially those made from refined sugar – which includes brown sugar – are extremely detrimental to your health and highly addictive.
Giving up Sugar May be Difficult
There is absolutely no doubt that limiting or giving up sugar intake will benefit your health. Sugar provides no nutrients but causes problems to your health. The only perceived gains are taste and satisfying a compulsive urge.
However, if your body is conditioned to high sugar intake you can expect to go through a period of withdrawal with intense sugar cravings, the symptoms can be painful and frustrating. This period can last from a couple of days to two weeks. You may experience headaches, agitation and mood swings.
The result will be worth it, for your health’s sake, but it will require effort, especially in the beginning. If you are serious about stopping your sugar addiction, the following advice will prove useful.
Look for a Substitute
You may want to try some natural, herbal teas to satisfy your cravings. Unsweetened beverages are a great option to fill you up and rehydrate. Some satisfying choices include: green tea, blueberry tea or peppermint tea. Dried fruits, almonds, raisins or some trail mix can be another healthy snack option.
Go easy on the dried fruits, however, as they can be quite high in sugar content by weight and volume compared to the naturally hydrated version. It will take some active willpower; however, soon you will be able to make better choices when the sweet cravings take over.
Deprivation is not always the way, reduction is easier and if you are particularly hooked an alternative sweetener e.g Xlylitol or Stevia will definitely help
Make Sweets Less Accessible
Don’t sabotage yourself. Stopping your sugar cravings will be difficult if your cupboards, fridge and counters are laden with high sugar snacks, candies or chocolates. If you are at work, ensure that sweet treats can no longer be found near your work station. Keep some sugar free gum at your desk and in your car for a quick fix. Get the flavor without the sugar and the associated calories.
When you go shopping, avoid going down the junk food aisles. Read the labels on “health food bars”, these are often sugar bombs in disguise, if the ‘sugars’ and carbohydrate percentage are roughly the same that tells you the product you are looking at is mostly refined sugar….look for an alternative or if your cravings are acute, a product with less sugar in it. Instead, keep your kitchen filled with fresh fruits and other healthy snacks which you can easily grab whenever you are craving something sweet.
Brush Your Teeth Right Away
Make a habit of brushing your teeth very soon after eating your meals. Some people often crave something sweet after they have finished their meals because they do not like the yucky aftertaste left in their mouths (but it could also be a habit borne since childhood family meals together). If, however, you make an effort to brush your teeth right away after eating, the minty taste of toothpaste will help stomp out the urge to consume something sweet.
Wait for Ten Minutes
Nutrition experts advise that sugar cravings may only last up to ten minutes. So, the next time you feel the urge to look for something sweet, wait for ten minutes first and allow the craving to subside. This habit will make it easier for you to attain self-discipline and gain better control over your sweet cravings. Find something productive or creative to do while you wait, so you are not focused on your cravings.
Eat when you are hungry until you are full
This may seem a little obvious, but refined sugar is so addictive it affects your brain hence when you think you are hungry, many times it is just that you THINK you are hungry, yet your stomach does not feeling empty and that is because it is not. This will take quite a bit of practice as you will have ‘forgotten’ what real hunger feels like. This one thing alone will result in weight loss if you master it but is it not easy.
If you need incentive to convince you to overcome your addiction to sugar, here are some valid reasons why you should call it quits:
– Sugar is not healthy in any way
Besides having zero nutritional value, it is something that will only deprive you of the nutrients needed by your mind and body in order to function well. What’s more, when sugar is processed inside your body, it will strip away Calcium and other mineral resources while depleting your healthy intestinal flora.
– Sugar makes you anxious
Eating more of foods that contain sugar can make you more vulnerable to the symptoms of anxiety and depression. Consuming these sugary foods will increase your insulin production and the sugar/slump cycle can elevate adrenalin levels.
– Sugar destroys your pancreas
Studies reveal that sugar will compromise the ability of your pancreas to function well. When this occurs, you can find yourself becoming susceptible to kidney problems, diabetes and heart problems.
– Sugar ruins your teeth
The more you eat foods that contain sugar, the more you increase bacteria build-up inside your mouth which will contribute to enamel erosion.
Although sweet foods are often used as rewards, bear in mind that this will never reward your health. If you want to live a longer and healthier life, banish sugar cravings. After all, suffering an amputation due to diabetic complications is not such a sweet thought, isn’t it?