How to Break the Addiction to Sugar
Currently in the US, there is a major addiction that is seldom addressed. This addiction is to sugar. Earlier this year, Dr. Robert Lustig caused a stir when he stated that his research showed that sugar is as addictive as cocaine. It has been linked to Diabetes, cancer, premature aging, obesity and many other health and life quality issues.
Why Sugar is Bad for Us
When we eat sugar laden foods, we tend to crave more sugar laden foods. They trick the body into thinking it is full while providing very little by way of nutritional value. Sugar adversely affects the immune system by suppressing its response while causing inflammation (anti-inflammatory diets have been shown to help reduce the risk of cancer and helps prevent the signs of premature aging, so causing inflammation is not a good thing at all). Diets high in sugar can cause obesity, which can then lead to a myriad of other health issues.
While both being simple sugars, Glucose and Fructose are quite different. Our bodes were designed to better metabolize glucose, which it turns into energy. Fructose however does not break down properly, hanging out in the liver and leaving fatty deposits behind. While an excess in either is not good, fructose can be more damaging, especially when used in High Fructose Corn Syrup.
Sugar enters the bloodstream rapidly and causes a rise in the blood sugar levels which drops just as quickly as it works its way through the system. This is the “crash” that is often felt. In its wake, there can be headaches, nervousness, and a drained, tired feeling.
To replace sugar, many people turn to artificial sweeteners such as aspartame, saccharin, sucralose and the like. The problem here is that many of these have also been linked to adverse health issues. Artificial is just that...not natural. Many of these have not been tested for possible side effects and were rushed into everyday use. They can be found in products from diet soda to frozen meals.
How to Break the Cycle
Breaking the sugar habit can be difficult. It can be like any other form of withdrawal. I can assure you, however, that once the cycle is broken, the craving for sugar lessens and goes away. These days, if I do partake of sugary foods, my body lets me know it, and the adverse effects are felt rather sharply.
First, be aware that it is a withdrawal. Be kind to yourself. No judgements. Start small and work your way up. For example, if you take sugar in your tea or coffee, reduce the amount you are using. Eventually, eliminate the use of sugar in your beverage completely. If you drink soda, replace it with something else (preferably water!).
Consider using organic raw honey as a sweetener, or brown rice syrup. To satisfy the sweet tooth, eat fruit. I always had to finish my meal with something sweet, so I began eating an apple after my lunch. I felt satisfied and I no longer craved artificially sweet food. If you must have chocolate, opt for organic dark chocolate. The upside is that it is naturally high in antioxidants as well. To feed that desire for sweet, try experimenting with your recipes. Add fruit to your meals (for example, raisins to your salad, apples to your brown rice). Cook with root vegetables (carrots, parsnips, turnips, etc). Limit processed, prepackaged foods. This is where most of the sugar and sodium intake in our diets come from. Drink lots of water and eliminate excess caffeine. Staying hydrated helps reduce blood sugar spikes.
Get the proper rest and exercise. Deal in a healthy way with stress (i.e. meditating, yoga), as this can lead to mindless eating. Nourish the needs of the whole self. When faced with a craving, stop in your tracks before reaching for that sugary treat and ask yourself “What is it I really want?” Sometimes, it is a drink of water, other times it is just a breather. Once you snap yourself back to the now, the craving often fades away. Think before eating something “just because”.
Enjoy the Benefits
Once you have moved away from sugar in your diet, you will see results in no time. Cravings will drop away, as will weight. Your complexion will be brighter. You will have more energy and will want healthier foods. This will hopefully spill over into other areas of your life and will inspire you to incorporate other healthy lifestyle choices into your daily routine. Of course, if you have any health issues please consult your physician or nutritionist before making any changes to your current diet.
If you would like ideas for some healthy meals, visit my website at www.iamnaturallyhealthy.com.
I wish you success on your quest for a healthier, happier you!