We all know about the addictive nature of sugar and the havoc it can wreck on your digestive system, eventually showing up as weight gain and a host of other issues. Without breaking free from sugar cravings (and staying clear of re-addiction) losing weight and maintaining will be an uphill battle you don’t even know you are facing. You want to break the sugar addiction so instead of sugar controlling you, you control it!
What makes breaking the addiction so hard is that we are constantly accidentally eating sugar!
Do you eat boxed cereal for breakfast, even if you purchased it at Whole Foods? Do you eat instant oatmeal with a sweeter added? Do you drink sweetened soy or almond milk? Not just the ‘vanilla’ flavored ones are sweetened; the ‘original’ flavored milks are sweetened as well. Do you eat white rice or white bread or white pasta? Do you eat pasta sauce with too much sugar in it? How sweet is your bread? I’ve seen ‘healthy’ looking loves with 4 grams of sugar per slice! That’s 8 grams of sugar for a sandwich! Do you eat yogurt with fruit in it? They don’t just add blueberries, they add cane sugar as well. Is there sugar in the crackers you buy? What about in your chips? How much sugar is in the meal replacement bars or granola bars you buy? And your salad dressing? What about granola? What about sugar added to your peanut butter? And the dried fruit you’re munching on?
The amount of hidden sugar in our foods is a big fat trap!
If you are trying to have a dessert, that’s one thing, but probably you aren’t trying to eat dessert at every meal. More likely you are just innocently trying to have a snack and end up eating a lot of sugar in the process. Worse, maybe you think you are eating something savory (pasta for example) when really you are consuming a brownie’s worth of sugar in the process. Pretty sneaky, right?
Alright, I’m addicted, so now what?
Find all the hidden added sugars and remove them from your diet! If you aren’t ready to ditch processed foods, find the brands that don’t add sugar to their products and eat that. If you have strong cravings for sugar or withdrawal symptoms like a headache, then you were addicted to sugar. If you find quitting hard, then eat sweet fruits and veggies to help you out! If that’s not good enough, try a little bit of a natural sweetener, like raw honey, maple syrup, or brown rice syrup on plain crackers. I would avoid stevia as it is 150 times as sweet as sugar, so it could increase your sweet tooth threshold! Back off of these foods too though, once you no longer need them.
Some people, myself included, can cut sugar cravings by eating a forkful of naturally fermented sauerkraut, a spoonful of plain yogurt, or by drinking a mint tea. If this isn’t good enough, then add a little bit of honey to a tea and try that as your ‘treat’ first. You’d be surprised how often that was all you needed!
Personally I can eat a small amount of sweet foods without getting addicted, but once I go over that threshold it’s hard for me to get off. I can never quit cold turkey and the first day I have to have something, but it gets easier.
What is good enough?
The best way to tell if you’ve removed enough hidden sugars from your diet is to use a glucose meter. I purchased mine here from LifeSpa: http://store.lifespa.com/glucose_meter_kit.html. Test yourself first thing in the morning and try to get yourself below 85mg/dL. If you find that you’re still over, then head to your kitchen and find those hidden sugars! Get creative! Even plain instant oatmeal or ‘whole grain’ flours spike your insulin levels more than the whole grains themselves. Also check on how many bananas, grapes, and apples (the sweeter fruits) you are eating.
I’m addiction free!
Once you break the addiction it becomes easier to maintain, because foods that you didn’t realize were sweet before (like steel cut oats) will start to taste sweet to you. You will probably find most bars unbearable because of how sweet they are! But most important of all, you will now be off the sugar rush and crash diet and have smooth energy. You will feel better, look better, and have more energy!
Even after you break the addiction, stay away from processed foods with hidden sugars in them to avoid accidentally eating sugar and re-introducing issues. When you do eat sugar you want it to be obvious so you can enjoy it for what it is! Your dessert!
Have you ever tried to break your sugar addiction? How did it feel? What worked and what did not work?