It usually strikes around 10am and 4pm and then again in the evening. Perhaps it’s feelings of sluggishness or irritability, maybe the shakes set in or you feel like you are going to fall asleep at the wheel of the car. A boost is in order, so you turn to a mid-morning donut and coffee, late afternoon chips and soda, or a late night bowl of Haagan Daas Chocolate Fudge Brownie ice cream for relief. The logical side of your brain says “no don’t do it…grab the celery”, but the addict within you says “just go for it…it’ll make you feel better”.
In actuality, those little sugar (and caffeine) highs just set you up for a big fall a couple hours later. The introduction of refined sugar into your system elevates your blood sugar levels initially and you feel a surge in energy…temporary relief…but it’s false energy and short lived. It is followed by a crash a couple hours later when your blood sugar levels quickly plummet leaving you in need of another boost…thus the daily cyclical cravings many people experience for sugar and/or caffeine. It’s like a crazy roller coaster ride. Your blood sugar levels, rather than remaining constant and steady throughout the day, are continually skyrocketing and plummeting, leaving you with all kinds of unpleasant side effects. Treating these side effects becomes a necessity in order to function properly. After all, an addict needs their drug of choice.
It’s a pretty safe assumption to say that the majority of American people are addicted to both sugar and caffeine. But fear not…there is a solution. You can gain control of cravings without willpower or deprivation and permanently change your relationship with sugar.
Before we get into the steps to dealing with sugar cravings, let’s first talk about why sugar is so bad for you. It’s more than just rotten teeth and a big gut that we have to worry about here.
When I refer to this evil white stuff, I am also including any products made from white flour such as pasta, white rice and bread. These products are so highly processed that they lack the fiber and nutritional content of the original grain from which they were derived so they end up being metabolized in the body just like sugar.
A few of the problems associated with the evil white stuff:
The Big Three: Cancer, heart disease and diabetes
Although the media has brought much attention to dietary fat as being the culprit in the development of these diseases, in reality, sugar is an even bigger problem. Cancer cells thrive on sugar!
Sugar and white flour products are devoid of nutrients(the processing strips them away)
Sugar and white flour products cause constipation (from lack of fiber). Just think of what happens when you mix flour with water. You end up with a sticky, gluey mess. Imagine this glop attempting to move through your digestive tract. It can’t. It clogs it all up and interferes with your body’s natural elimination abilities, which leads to disease. If you aren’t having daily, sizeable bowel movements, you are constipated.
Sugar messes with your mind and emotions. Mood swings, brain fog, angry outbursts, depression and the like are all symptoms of excessive sugar intake.
Sugar impairs your sex life. People who consume a lot of sugar tend to have a low libido, have difficulty reaching orgasm and getting and maintaining an erection. (Not to mention the toll wild mood swings can take on a relationship in general. Just ask my ex-husband and children what it was like to live with me while I was a sugar addict).
Sugar causes hypoglycemia, which is an under recognized condition that is a precursor to diabetes and can wreck havoc on your life from the wild mood swings, anxiety, shakes, headaches, and other symptoms that accompany this disease.
Sugar affects how your skin looks. Premature aging, wrinkles and pimples are all by products of too much sugar. If the threat of developing the previously mentioned diseases doesn’t get to you, vanity will! If you want to look young and vibrant decades past your sugar addicted peers, cut the white menace out of your life!
The average American consumes 152 pounds of sugar each year. That is correct…152 pounds! One 20 ounce bottle of Coca Cola alone contains over 16 teaspoons of sugar. I cringe when I see kids guzzling down monster size sodas at the movie theater. Sugar is completely addicting and it is everywhere! We all know the obvious places—cookies, cake, candy, ice cream, soda—but it is also found in just about every type of packaged food you can imagine—soups, salad dressings, meats and frozen foods.
So what to do? The first step to combating sugar cravings is to be aware of the negative implications that accompany sugar consumption. This awareness will provide you with the motivation necessary to instill better dietary habits. Now that you are armed with awareness, peruse the list below of ways to assist you in conquering the sugar addict within.
To Combat Sugar Cravings:
Drink more water. Many times sweet cravings are a sign of dehydration. Drinking a glass of water wakens your cells and gives you more energy. Alkaline water is best! If you want to learn more about Alkaline water, ask me.
Cut out caffeine. A gradual approach typically works best to avoid withdrawal symptoms such as massive headaches and grouchiness. Reduce your current intake by half, then in half again after a couple days, and continue until you have removed caffeine successfully from your daily routine. Replace the morning drug in a mug with a mug of hot water with lemon followed by a fresh green juice or green smoothie.
Eat sweet vegetables and fruit. This helped me tremendously when I was cutting out sugar. My late afternoon snack became roasted sweet potatoes, beets and onions for quite some time!
Use gentler sweeteners. Use maple syrup, agave nectar, and raw honey.
Exercise daily. I can’t stress this enough. Exercise helps to balance blood sugar levels and reduces tension.
Get more sleep, rest, and relaxation. Go to bed earlier and practice de-stressing methods such as meditation, deep breathing, or gentle yoga stretches. When you are stressed out and tired, your body will want to reach for sugar.
Eliminate fat free and low fat foods. They are usually loaded up with sugar to compensate for the lack of flavor and fat.
Don’t allow yourself to get too hungry. You are more likely to reach for an unhealthy choice when you are starving. Frequent, smaller meals work well.
Eat a nutritious breakfast. It sets the tone for the day. Having protein, fat and fiber at your meal will release energy more steadily and slowly into your system, thus avoiding big swings in your blood sugar levels.
Add essential fatty acids to your daily diet such as flax, chia or hemp seeds and oils. Chromium is also a useful dietary supplement that is known to reduce sugar cravings.
Add spices: Coriander, cardamon, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves all naturally sweeten and flavor your food and reduce cravings.
Create a support system: Set a goal with a friend to cut out sugar and offer each other daily support and encouragement.
Slow down: Sweeten your life in non-food ways by connecting more with others. Talk with friends, touch others…hugs, massages…spend time in nature. When you are feeling happy and content you are less likely to crave sugar.
Most importantly, be accepting of yourself. Big changes don’t happen overnight. Take small steps and keep your end goal in mind. A happier, healthier, more energetic version of you is the prize at the end!