Sugar has been getting a bad rap lately, and for good reason. For years researchers have linked the sweet substance to increased rates of Type 2 diabetes, obesity, and behavioral issues; and lately sugar is being called toxic and addictive. This isn’t good news for anyone. I’ll be the first to tell you, breaking a sugar addiction is not easy. According to one study done at the University of Bordeaux in France, sugar’s ability to activate the brain’s pleasure pathways makes it as addictive as cocaine. Another study using brain scans presents the same findings. Taking sugar out of your diet can be like ceasing to use an illicit drug.
But there’s good news yet! As we all know, the first step in overcoming your addiction is admitting that you have a problem. The next step to facing this dependency head-on is dealing with other factors that may be contributing to your cravings:
1) Lack of water We often confuse dehydration for hunger, and that pseudo-hunger often presents itself as a craving for sweets. Next time you're feeling the need for sweets, drink a glass of filtered water and wait ten minutes before giving in to the sugar craving – it might disappear. This trick might not work right away, but it’s worth the effort. Be patient with your cravings, and remember to reach for water over sweets every time.
2) Breakfast is a let down Breakfast is truly our most important meal of the day. The food we consume first thing sets us up for the rest of the day. When we eat a breakfast high in sugar and starchy food, our sweet cravings are put into motion. When the sugary high from breakfast wears off, you’ll most likely start to crave sweets again. Enjoy a breakfast high in protein and fiber. Avocado, anyone?
3) You’re stressed out Stress plays a huge role in our emotional lives and cravings. It taxes our adrenal glands, which regulate our energy levels. When our adrenals aren’t doing their job by providing us with the energy we need to function, our bodies crave sugar and carbs to give us the boost we need. The problem with energy from refined sugar is that it spikes your blood sugar, giving you a short-lived boost of energy followed by an unpleasant crash. We all know what happens after that; we crave more sugar and the cycle continues. It’s no wonder we’ve developed a full-blown addiction.
So what’s the solution? First you’ll want to say bye-bye to refined white sugar. This type of sugar is void of nutritional value, making it an empty-calorie food that leads to weight gain, insulin problems and addiction. Thankfully there is a glorious world of natural sweeteners that contain minerals and vitamins, and even fiber. Products like raw honey, dates and coconut sugar come loaded with essential nutrients that can help slow the body’s absorption of their sugars, rewarding you with a more sustained energetic boost that doesn’t come with a crash.