Consuming too much sugar is not good for anyone, but it can be a major concern for people with diabetes. Excessive sugar in your diet may lead to health problems such as cravings, weight gain and heart disease. Discover more about sugar addiction and cravings and how to combat them for better health.
- The USDA reported the average American consumed 151 pounds of added sugar. More than half of it comes from beverages such as fruit juices, soda and sports drinks. While people realize sugar is found in sweets such as cakes, ice cream and cookies, they might not recognize it is also in all healthy carbohydrate foods such as cereal and fruit.
- When people over eat sugar from carbohydrates, it releases serotonin, a chemical in the brain that makes you feel good; it is a temporary state of euphoria. Hours later people may crash and become lethargic, anxious, moody or fatigued. In the past 15 years, high fructose corn syrup has been added to many of our foods and is much more dangerous than natural sugars present in food. People who consume sugar for energy ultimately wind up more tired. Poor dietary choices lead to sugar cravings and addiction. Processed foods with added sugar and flour stripped of fiber are what you need to avoid. Breaking these habits can help you reverse your sugar tolerance and learn how to resist sugary foods and drinks.
- Once you realize you could be addicted to sugar, it takes time to reduce the cravings and learn how to avoid it. Give yourself four weeks to minimize your cravings and learn how to choose healthier foods. Empty sugar choices should only be an occasional treat. You body really wants healthy nutrition and you have to learn how to give it what it needs. For example, sometimes you might be thirsty when you think you are hungry. A glass of water with a slice of lemon or lime could make you feel satisfied.
- The first step to success is learning how to read food labels and discover where sugar could be hiding. Clean out your pantry and refrigerator to reduce temptation. Sugar can have many different names, such as corn sweetener, corn syrup solids, glucose, malt- dextrin, maltose and lactose. Sugary ingredients should never be one of the first five ingredients listed in any food you consume. Be aware of foods that claim to be healthy but could contain too much sugar. These foods include instant flavored oatmeal, breakfast cereals and granola bars, as well as fruits packed in syrup, flavored yogurt and chocolate milk. Choose foods such as fresh fruit, whole grain toast with sugar-free preserves and unflavored yogurt with a handful of nuts.
- The next step is to stock your kitchen with healthier options. Be aware of alleged health foods that contain too much sugar. Other culprits are low-fat foods that could have more sugar than their regular counterparts. Consider whole grain cereal with no added sugar, peanut or almond butter on whole grain crackers or a handful of fresh berries. Although these foods all turn to sugar, they are much healthier and raise blood sugars more slowly. These foods are flavorful satisfying and contain essential nutrients with no added sugars. Avoid all sweet drinks and look for beverages with zero calories. Add raspberries or fresh mint to unsweetened iced tea or plain sparkling water. If you feel the need to sweeten your tea or coffee, add a sugar substitute such as Stevia. Shop the outer aisles of your grocery store to stock up on whole foods rather than the packaged ones. Have a light snack before you shop so you aren’t hungry, which can lead you to buy more than you should. Make a healthy grocery list and stick to it.
- Now that your pantry and refrigerator are stocked with healthy options, you need to focus on fighting off sugar cravings. Drink a glass of water, go for a walk, read a book or take a relaxing bath until the cravings pass. If you really are hungry, have a healthy snack such as half a banana or raw celery with hummus.
- Now you are ready to develop healthy lifestyle habits. Once you combat the urge for sugar for more than two weeks, the cravings start to slowly diminish. Keep sugar free candy handy to fight off serious cravings and satisfy your sweet tooth. This helps you avoid indulging in sugary snacks, which could cause a setback.
If you crave sugar, you can beat the addiction. Learn where sugar hides, swap it out for healthier choices and have willpower for a few weeks. Soon you will stop craving added and empty sugar, so you can better maintain your blood sugar levels with diabetes.