If you’re among the vast majority of Americans who have a serious sweet tooth, you’re in good company. The nature of food addiction, more specifically, sugar addition, has been studied and shown to be extremely common and as intense as addictions to opiates like cocaine and heroin.
Part of the reason it’s so hard to kick the habit is that over time, our brains actually become addicted to the natural opioids that are triggered by sugar consumption. Like with drugs, a diet loaded with sugar can generate excessive reward signals in the brain which can override self-control and lead to addiction. In fact, researchers at Princeton University report that sugar-loving mice demonstrate all three criteria of addiction: increased intake, withdrawal, and cravings that lead to relapse. Yowza.
So if you’re among the sugar-addicted, how do you break the cycle without going into rehab? Here are my top five tips to break up with your sweet tooth for good:
1. Eat regularly
Eating 3 meals and 2 snacks (typically) or 5 “mini-meals” throughout the day will keep your blood sugar and appetite on an even keel. Why is this so important? Once your blood sugar takes a nose five, you get hungry (even ravenous), your judgment heads south, and you’re more likely to crave (and give into) Jim’s 10 year anniversary cake that’s beckoning you from the office conference room.
2. Eliminate processed foods
Sure, there’s loads of sugar in things like soft drinks, cakes, and ready to eat cereals, but other processed foods, like ketchup, peanut butter, canned fruits and vegetables and “low-fat” products account for more than a quarter of the added sugar in the American diet. Sugar added to vegetables? Wha-wha? Other than for the obvious reason – to make foods sweeter – manufacturers add sugar to improve and maintain foods’ color, texture, and shelf life. Of course, they take it a step further and list sugar under its many aliases like corn sweetener, corn syrup, high-fructose corn syrup, dextrose, fruit juice concentrates, lactose, maltose, malt syrup, molasses, cane juice, cane syrup, or sucrose. Any ingredient ending in “ose” is likely a form of sugar. Sneaky, sneaky. By consuming these processed foods, you’re feeding your addiction even more (and not even realizing it). Instead, choose whole foods, which are foods in their natural form, like fruits, vegetables, whole grains (like oats or quinoa), or eggs rather than those “foods” that come in packages with long lists of fancy (translation = unpronounceable) ingredients.
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When we’re tired, we tend to lean on sugar (and caffeine) for energy to counteract our exhaustion. Bottom line: go to bed earlier – one hour earlier. Make a nightly date with your pillow and stick to it. You’ll feel better, look better, and have fewer cravings.
4. Drink water – lots of it
By drinking plenty of water throughout the day, your cells stay hydrated, resulting in more energy and fewer cravings. Many times, what we perceive as a food craving is really just thirst. Eureka! Next time a craving hits you like a ton of bricks, chug a big glass of water and wait five minutes.
5. Do a detox
Typically, when people do a detox or cleanse, not only does it reset their appetites, but it dramatically decreases or eliminates their sugar cravings. Imagine for a moment not “having” to have something sweet after your meal to feel satisfied? Or not relying on that 3 pm sugar rush to get you through the rest of the day. Hmm…
Fortunately, giving your sugar cravings the boot once and for all is just a few mouse clicks away (how’s that for an “easy button?). The Superwoman Slim Down: A Real Food Detox & Cleanse for Real Women is the answer to your sugar-loving prayers.
Have you ever tried to kick sugar? If so, what were your best strategies? I’d LOVE to hear! Please leave a comment.
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Kristen Boucher is a registered nurse, healthy living junkie, health & wellness coach, real foodie, full-time working wife to an amazing husband, cloth-diapering crunchy mama of two beautiful girls, creator of The Superwoman Slim Down: A Real Food Detox & Cleanse for Real Women, Lose Weight, Feel Great: 8 Weeks to a New You, and Founder of MIX | Wellness Solutions For A Balanced Life, where she inspires busy women to eliminate the overwhelm to lose weight, kick cravings, stress less, and cook delicious, healthy, and family-friendly meals so they can gain confidence, double their energy, and save money without crazy diets, countless hours at the gym, or quitting their day job. Kristen can be found pushing the envelope at www.mixwellness.com and on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Google+.
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