Why is Sugar Addictive & How You Can Break Free
Most people today know that getting too much sugar can be very bad for you. It can cause inflammation, weight gain, increase your risk of diabetes and many other negative issues. In fact, many people believe that excessive sugar intake can be worse for your health than smoking. Despite this fact, people continue to consume massive amounts of it on a daily basis. The simple reason why people consume too much sugar is that it is addictive.
Sugar addiction works in the same way as many other addictions. When you eat it, your body releases dopamine, which is a pleasure hormone in your brain. This makes your brain crave even more sugar going forward. Since your body does require carbohydrates (sugars) to function properly, you can’t eliminate all sugar from your diet. Instead, you need to find ways to fight the addiction and help your body run properly on healthy amounts of sugar.
Consider Drinking Milk
One of the best ways to fight a sugar addiction is to replace the ‘feel-good’ dopamine you get from sugar with a healthier alternative. Studies have found that the protein found in milk increases levels of serotonin. Serotonin is another hormone associated with mood elevation. While milk isn’t always the healthiest thing to drink, a small amount of it can help to ease your cravings and is much better for you than sugar. When you have an intense craving for something sweet, drink some milk instead.
Avoid Fat-Free Products
In an attempt to try to stay healthy, many people turn to ‘fat-free’ products. These products are extremely popular today, and people mistakenly think that they are always a healthy option. When food manufacturers create fat-free foods, they need to replace the fat with something to make the food taste good. Natural fat adds a lot of flavor and many food manufacturers add sugar to make up for its removal. Opting to enjoy the full-fat versions of food will reduce your overall sugar intake. Also, research has found that some types of fat in your diet is actually a good thing and can help you to feel more satisfied.
Make Sure You get Plenty of Sleep
A study was done back in 2013 that looked at how circadian sleep cycles in people can directly impact whether or not they consume late night sugar filled snacks. The study found that when people eat late at night, they are more likely to choose high-sugar options. In addition, when tired throughout the day, they have less willpower to say no to the unhealthy snacks. The point is if you want to break your sugar addiction, one of the first things you should do is try to get more and better quality sleep.
Consider Chewing Sugar-Free Gum
While we don’t typically recommend sugar substitutes because they often have negative health consequences, this might be a good exception to the rule. A study from 2009 found that those who chew a piece of gum per hour for a minimum of three hours in the afternoon had lower sugar cravings. This makes sense because most gum is sweet and will help to satisfy that craving without adding the negative consequences of eating a sugar-filled snack. While sugar-free gum does have artificial sweeteners, the amount of it is going to be significantly lower than in most other things so it may be a good trade-off, at least while adjusting to a low-sugar diet. Of course, each will have to make their own decision on whether or not they want to have these unnatural sweeteners in their body at all.
Get Plenty of Exercise
When you’re feeling a sugar craving, consider ‘running it out.’ Studies have shown that exercise releases serotonin in the brain, which helps your body to feel good. In many cases even just a few minutes of exercise can help you to ‘forget’ about your sugar craving, at least for a while. Exercise is going to have a wide range of other health benefits that can help motivate you to stick to a healthier diet.
Have Healthy Snacks at Hand
While cutting back on sugar is a good thing, you can’t eliminate all types of sugar entirely. Sometimes when your body has a sugar craving it is because you need the carbs in your body. Rather than reaching for a Snickers, consider enjoying some fresh fruit. Fruit will satisfy your sweet tooth, supply your body with the sugars it needs and also give you other healthy nutrients that aren’t found in most high-sugar snacks.
Turn to a Healthy Meal
The last, and perhaps most effective, option for fighting your sugar cravings is to turn to a healthy meal when you’re feeling like eating a sugar snack. While cravings don’t always occur because you are hungry, hunger can make them harder to resist. With this in mind, if you are hungry and are thinking of a sweet snack, consider eating a healthy meal with plenty of protein and other nutrients instead. Satisfying your body’s natural need for food will help to reduce or eliminate the sugar craving.
It Takes Time
If you are trying to cut back on sugar in your life, remember that it will take time. Like any addiction, the desire for sugary foods is going to be difficult to overcome. With each good decision, it will become a little easier. If you can stick with your effort to cut out sugars (especially unnatural sugars), you will find that you can achieve success, even if it doesn’t feel like it at first.