If I were to tell you that sugar is an addictive drug, just as dangerous as other addictive plant based drugs such as Opium or Cocaine, most wouldn’t believe it. But, the truth is that sugar is indeed an addiction that most people can’t quit. Ask anyone to give up sugar and they’ll come up with a million reasons why they can’t live with certain foods and drinks containing sugar nor would they want to. And for those that can quit sugar, most will notice a series of withdrawal symptoms such as headaches, fatigue, more cravings and irritability, clearly indicating the addictive nature of this chemical substance found in most of our foods.
Table sugar comes from the sugarcane plant and is heavily processed through extraction, evaporation, boiling and refining to produce the various forms of sugar that show up in the foods we eat. Not only does this substance consist of empty calories with no nutritional substance, our body’s way of processing it actually involves the depletion of existing minerals and enzymes stored in the body to digest it properly.
Refined sugar is detrimental to our health and is one of the main culprits behind obesity and insulin resistance diseases. It is also a contributor to premature aging, autoimmune disorders, gallstones, appendicitis, cancer, hyperactivity, gastrointestinal problems, Candida, hemorrhoids, osteoporosis, and many other health problems.
So what can you do to knock the sugar habit and begin to transform not only your weight, but overall health as well? Here are 10 suggestions:
1. Start reading the labels and recognizing all the different names for sugar. Some common ones are evaporated cane juice, fructose, sucrose and high-fructose corn syrup.
2. Opt for sweet vegetables and fruits to counteract sweet cravings. Examples of sweet vegetables include carrots, squash and sweet potatoes.
3. Experiment with some safe sweeteners such as xylitol, stevia and mesquite meal. Some other natural sweeteners include honey, agave nectar, maple syrup and dates. If you have glucose related sensitivities, stick to the first two mentioned.
4. Avoid artificial sweeteners such as aspartame (NutraSweet, Equal, etc.). These chemicals are believed to cause an array of health problems, increase sweet cravings and contribute to fat storage by impacting the liver and metabolism.
5. Drink water. Dehydration can cause food and/or sweet cravings.
6. Exercise and get adequate sleep. These will help balance your blood sugar and decrease energy/sugar cravings.
7. Make sure you eat a healthy breakfast to avoid late morning sugar cravings.
8. Consider rebooting your system by eliminating ALL sugar for a two-week period. This will decrease your sensitivity to sugar in relation to metabolism and weight gain when you expose yourself to small amounts of sugar in the future.
9. Reduce caffeine consumption and switch to herbal teas. Caffeine impacts blood sugar swings contributing to cravings.
10. Begin to identify when sugar cravings are related to emotional cravings and find ways to address the underlying cause.
Get the Sugar Out: 501 Simple Ways to Cut the Sugar Out of Any Diet by Ann Louise Gittleman
Lick the Sugar Habit by Nancy Appleton, PhD
Sugar Blues by Joshua Rosenthal, Founder of the Institute of Integrative Nutrition
Published On: March 31, 2010