Breaking the Sugar Habit: How to Overcome Your Craving for Sweets
Everyone loves sugar. The average American consumes around 22 teaspoons of added sugar per day, according to a survey by the United States Department of Agriculture.
Added sugars (fructose, corn syrup, maple syrup, honey, etc.) contribute to obesity and health problems across the country. QZ reports that Americans spend an average of $3,000 per year on healthcare related to excessive sugar consumption. Sugar has been attributed to ailments such as heart disease, diabetes, and even high blood pressure.
This is putting a strain on the already stretched US healthcare system. In Maryville University's examination of how healthcare in the US is changing, they note that by 2025 almost 164 million Americans will be affected by chronic disease. With sugar-related illnesses, such as diabetes, fatty liver disease, and high blood pressure on the rise, deciding to tame your sweet tooth could help reduce your healthcare costs and make you healthier as well.
The bitter truth
Researchers from the Queensland University of Technology found that long-term sugar intake can disrupt your dopamine levels. It can be akin to addictive drugs, as this unhealthy relationship with sugar rushes can also cause neurological and psychiatric consequences.
Added sugar has become so deeply entrenched in the average American diet that it has become hard to avoid it. A Harvard School of Public Health report highlights that children who drink soda regularly have a 60% chance of becoming obese. Almost all beverages in grocery stores, from sports drinks to orange juice, contain copious amounts of added sugar.
If you’re ready to end that love affair with sugar, here are some ways to find a solution:
Accept that you have a problem. Like an addiction, it’s easy to sweep your sugar problem under the carpet. However, it requires focus and determination to reduce the amount of sugar you are consuming. It is important to understand that quitting sugar has its withdrawal symptoms too, including changes in sleep behavior, anxiety, and even depression. Being mindful of what you consume is the first step to overcoming the hurdles and reducing your sugar intake.
Learn to read labels. The rule of thumb is the higher sugar is on the nutritional label, the bigger its portion. So, it’s easy to spot the obvious problem items. However, there is some insidious sugar that food companies manage to hide in processed food and drinks. Especially those labeled as supposedly being healthy. Also, look out for the other names sugar goes by such as fructose, HFCS, and glucose.
Swap out your sugar-laden food and drinks with healthy options. Food and natural juices from fruits, vegetables, and nuts are sources of simple sugars, and easily digestible. Not only are they naturally occurring, but they will also help nourish the body. You can also fill up with healthy fats such as dark chocolate and avocadoes. They taste good and can satiate your sugar cravings.
Drink more water. Staying hydrated can help you stay feeling refreshed and awake. It’s also common for people to mistake thirst for hunger. Drink a glass of water whenever you feel like having a treat and you will soon find yourself forgetting about sweets altogether. Adding electrolytes like Ultima Replenisher to your water will help you stay hydrated even better.
Re-educating yourself on sugar and overcoming your cravings isn’t easy. So, don’t hesitate to ask your nutritionist about the best diet for you, as everyone is different. Not to mention they will have experience in helping people that have suffered from similar issues to you in the past.
by Amelia Corbyn
Photo by Sharon McCutcheon