How Can I Stop My Sugar Addiction?
There’s nothing wrong with treating yourself, even with sweets. But sometimes that sugary deliciousness can be too much of a good thing. Research shows that it’s an addicting substance that can cause serious health concerns if it’s not controlled.
While giving up sugar can be difficult, it’s not impossible. Knowing the reasons why sugar is so addicting and the negative impact it has on your health are important steps to kill the cravings.
Why Is Sugar So Addictive?
Some people are able to control their sugar intake and only eat sweets like pastries and chocolates once in a while. For others, sugar is craving that can feel impossible to satisfy without indulging.
Believe it or not, but researchers have found that sugar can be equally addicting as certain drugs. This is because when you eat sugar, it releases opioids and dopamine as a drug would. The tasty goods can give you a feeling of pleasure that you’re urged to experience over and over again. And the more you give in, the harder it is to stop.
But when we talk about sugar addictions, we’re not talking about healthy sugars that come from fruits — the real concern is processed sugars.
Processed sugars are typically added into foods and drinks. It’s a hidden ingredient added to almost everything in grocery stores, making it hard to avoid. For example, check the nutrition label next time you consider buying a seemingly “healthy” smoothie or yogurt. The amount of added sugar in it might surprise you.
Health guidelines advise healthy adults to consume no more than 37.5 grams daily for men and 25 grams per day for women. But on average, Americans are consuming around 17 teaspoons of sugar each day. This is equivalent to nearly 85 grams of sugar, which exceeds the healthy limit.
It’s no surprise that too much sugar consumption can lead to serious health concerns. Some of them include:
- Weight gain and obesity
- Increased risk of type 2 diabetes and heart disease
- Lack of energy
- Skin issues (acne, accelerated aging)
The good news is there are things you can do that will help lower the risk of experiencing these health issues. Here are five ways to curb your sweet tooth and lower your daily intake.
1. Drink Water
There are lots of benefits to getting in your daily eight cups of water and as soon as you feel a sugar craving, you should drink a glass. There’s a part of your brain called the hypothalamus that triggers hunger. This sensation happens when you are dehydrated and can lead to unnecessary cravings for sweets. By drinking water, you’ll prevent that tick from happening and make it easier to control cravings.
2. Sweeten Your Own Foods
When you look at the nutrition labels on any foods and drinks, there is often a ton of added sugar it’s made up of. Sweeten things yourself to avoid these hidden sugars. Do this by purchasing unflavored items — yogurt, oatmeal, cereals, etc. — and control how much sweetener you add to it. With the control in your hands, you’ll probably end up adding less sugars than a manufacturer would.
Do this with your morning coffee, too. Start drinking it black, then slowly add sweetener until it’s bearable for you to enjoy. You’ll eventually grow used to it and will be happy to lose the sugar.
3. Don’t Tempt Yourself
Healthy eating starts in the grocery store. It can be really hard not to add a pack of donuts or candies to your cart when doing your weekly shopping. If you resist the sweets at the store, then there’s no way you’ll end up binge eating them later on at home. Keep the desserts at the grocery store and opt for healthier snacks that will help curve your cravings.
Here are some grocery items to consider:
- Dark chocolate (try and eat one square per day)
- Sugar-free chewing gum
- Whole nuts (almonds, cashews, peanuts)
- Rice cakes
- Peanut butter
Once you get used to these alternatives, they’ll become your go-to when a sugar craving kicks in.
4. Be Aware Of Hidden Sugars
Check nutrition labels to see how much sugar is in your snacks, condiments and meal ingredients. You can easily go over your daily limit just by using ketchup with french fries, since it contains so much sugar. Be mindful of how many grams of sugar are in your food and try to find alternatives within those categories.
For example, there are tons of granola bars to choose from at the grocery store with varying sugar levels. Investigate different brands and try to find the ones with the lowest grams of sugar per serving. That way, you’re finding healthier options instead of sacrificing a favorite snack altogether.
The secret to looking good is feeling good, which low sugar diets and exercise both contribute to. Scientific studies are showing there is a healthy link between functional decision making and regular exercise. Here’s the gist — those who exercise will be less inclined to eat sugar afterwards.
It’s a cycle with sugar and exercise. The less sugar you eat, the easier it will be to exercise. As time goes by and you begin seeing progress in your physical health, the less you’ll want to risk diminishing it by eating a bunch of sweets.
With Time, You’ll Get Used To A Sugar-Free Lifestyle
Cutting out sugar will be hard in the beginning. Addictions are unique to individuals, and not every method will work for everyone. If you’re in need of serious help, consider finding a dietician or nutritionist. They can share some expertise and help you navigate healthier lifestyle choices.
By eating less sugar, you’ll start to notice positive changes in your body. You’ll have more energy, maintain a healthy weight and help prevent being diagnosed with certain conditions.