Is Sugar Addiction Real?
Sugar addiction is VERY real.
- When you eat a high carb meal like pasta, a sugary drink, and dessert, do you get tired or even sleepy afterwards?
- Are you suddenly craving something sweet, even after eating a big meal?
- Continuing to eat, although you’re full, is another sign of sugar addiction.
- Do you tell yourself you have to change your eating habits, but find it impossible to do?
- Are you craving simple carbohydrates like bread, pasta, white rice, and pastries?
The list goes on and on, but basically you ARE addicted to sugar. The recommended amount of sugar per day is 6 teaspoons for women, and 9 teaspoons for men. We average around 20 teaspoons a day, and that does not include hidden sugars in processed foods, fruits, drinks, and more. Then we wonder why our waistline is getting bigger, and we blame it on age. Studies show sugar is as addictive as cocaine!
What Does Excess Sugar Do To The Body?
When you eat a lot of sugar, it can cause insulin resistance. What does that mean? Here is a high-level explanation. The pancreas makes a hormone called insulin to help glucose enter the cells of our bodies. Insulin turns extra food into larger packets of glucose called glycogen. Our liver and muscles store glycogen for later use. Insulin also helps our bodies store fat and protein. The majority of our cells need protein in order to function and grow. When you are insulin resistant, your body’s muscles, fat, and liver cells do not respond properly to insulin, which means it cannot easily absorb glucose from the bloodstream. Therefore, your body needs higher levels of insulin to help glucose get into the cells of our body.
Our body is an incredible machine that when fueled properly, runs smoothly as designed. We don’t have to worry about how it works, we just have to fuel it with the best high-quality food, and it does the job on its own. It’s just like a car; if you put the manufacturer’s recommended type of gas and perform the required periodic maintenance, it runs smooth and longer than if you don’t.
Some of the diseases associated with poor eating habits and sugar abuse include:
- High blood pressure
- Heart failure (which can lead to death)
How Can You Quit Your Sugar Addiction?
- Quit cold turkey! -That’s right: the best way to do it is to make the decision and just quit. Don’t worry, I will provide more help with that below.
- Manage withdrawals. The withdrawal process comes with cravings, irritability, and mood swings. If you keep your blood sugar stable, you will avoid crashes. Eat three meals a day with lots of protein and healthy fats. Eat spoonfuls of almond butter or coconut oil in between meals to avoid crashes and keep blood sugar balanced. Drink plenty of water throughout the day. This can last from a few days to a week, but once you get over this part, it will be easy to continue.
- Curb your cravings– You will have cravings, after all, you are addicted. That’s how addictions work. Here are some helpful tips that will help with this stage:
- Consume more fiber. It helps you stay full longer.
- Drink lots of water. Sometimes you will think you’re hungry, when you’re actually dehydrated. I use this app to keep track of my water intake. Here is one for Android. You can also set reminders on both apps.
- Eat more high-protein foods, which helps balance blood sugar levels. Look for vegetables high in protein like broccoli, kale, cauliflower, and spinach.
- Indulge in probiotic foods which has many health benefits including: improved digestion, stronger immune system, and weight loss. Some examples are kefir, sauerkraut, kombucha, apple cider vinegar, and yogurt (read the label for added sugars).
- Contrary to what we’ve been told, fat can be good for you; it just depends on which fats. The body can burn either sugar or fat for energy. If you start eating more fat than sugar, your body will become a fat-burning machine! Healthy fats include coconut or MCT oil, avocado, ghee (clarified butter), full fat coconut milk, olive oil, and many more.
- Avoid artificial sweeteners. I use erythritol, which is an all-natural sweetener. I use this non-GMO brand.
- Clean house– get rid of sweets in your house. If it’s there, you will eat it.
- Have a backup plan. If cravings kick in, eat fruit, go for a walk, call or text a friend, or exercise. Just plan ahead so you know what to do if your cravings are uncontrollable.
- Plan meals in advance and have the ingredients you will need handy. I find that it is easier to make excuses and order take-out if I don’t do this.
Watch Out For Hidden Sugars: Read Labels!
- Last, but not least, read labels for added sugars. Sugar comes in many different forms. Some of the most common are:
- Cane sugar
- Brown sugar
- Corn syrup
- Corn sugar
- Fruit juice concentrate
- High fructose corn syrup
- Raw Sugar
- Turbinado sugar
If sugar from this list is one of the first three ingredients, don’t buy it!
How to Calculate Sugar Content in a Product
There is a simple math equation to calculate how much sugar is in a product:
- 1 gram of sugar = 4 calories
- If a product has 20 grams of sugar per serving, multiply 20 x 4 = 80, which gives you the amount of calories for each serving.
- As an example, if the total servings for a product is 2, you multiply 80 x 2 and that gives you a total of 160 calories, just from sugar alone!
Aim for no more than 2.5 grams of added sugar per 100 calories for any product you purchase. I know it seems overwhelming, but once this way of eating becomes your new habit, you won’t have to do all the “extras”. It will become second nature.
My Personal Experience
I, personally, started eating low fat, high carb (Ketogenic diet) since January of this year. My main goal is to become lean while maintaining muscle tone. So far I have lost 10 pounds, and lowered my body fat percentage by 5.6%. My struggle has been being consistent with my exercise routine. I have to apply my own advice in my blog on starting an exercise routine. In summary, we are all work in progress. The important thing is to become aware of how you are fueling your body, make changes where needed, then stick to it. If you revert to your old ways, don’t beat yourself up. Dust yourself off and start again!