Do you have a sweet-tooth? Even if you can resist a daily candy-fix, chances are that you’re pumping your body full of sugar with all those sugary ingredients found in the processed foods we all consume every day. The result is a growing dependence on sugar as our bodies begin to desire something sweet. Is it time you reduced your sugar craving?
While some people are self-confessed chocoholics, there are many others who don’t think they consume that much sugar. However, if you’re regularly chowing down on bread, pastries, cereal bars and sodas, not to mention juices and sauces, then you are probably eating much more sugar than you think.
Sugar makes you feel good…for a while
It’s not surprising that sugar has such a hold over so many of us. At the end of the day, while too much might be really bad for us, sugary carbohydrates give us a temporary ‘happy’ feeling, as feel-good neurotransmitters are released into the bloodstream. However, after a sugar high comes a crashing low and too much sugar can take you on a rollercoaster ride of emotions as you battle against excess weight and other sugar-induced health concerns.
Just how much is too much?
To get modern-day sugar consumption in perspective, the American Heart Association recommends that sugar should make up less than 7% of your daily calorie intake. That’s about six teaspoons for women, or around 100 calories, and nine teaspoons (150 calories) for men. With one can of soda containing around six teaspoons, it’s not any great revelation to say that most of us are going way over our sugar threshold. In fact, the average consumption in the US is around 22 teaspoons a day.
Top 10 tips
To really cut your sugar craving you need to make changes to your diet, your lifestyle and also your attitude. Here’s how:
- Be aware: How often do you read food labels or really think about what you’re eating when you’re dining out? If you want to size up just how much sugar you’re consuming then wake up to what you’re putting in your mouth. Look out for hidden sugars, such as additives in food, including fructose, sucrose and glucose, as well as the dreaded high fructose corn syrup.
- Go on a sugar detox: You need to break the sugar cycle and that really does mean not just cutting down but giving your body a real break. Start by stopping consuming all the obvious sugars and then make a conscious effort to get sugar from natural sources, such as from fruit and dairy products.
- Eat regularly: You know the routine. You don’t eat for ages and then you’re suddenly starving. Your body starts to crave sugar rewards and this, combined with an appetite, makes resisting a sugary snack incredibly difficult. Make it easier on yourself and keep your blood sugar levels stable.
- Eat breakfast: Studies reveal that people who crave and consume the most sugar are those who skip the first meal of the day. Start each morning with a healthy, low or no sugar breakfast.
- Reach out for healthy snacks: Snacking can be a psychological, as well as physical, desire. It often hits mid-afternoon and this is where you need to have fruit and nuts at the ready rather than candy bars.
- Get your sugar fix from fruit: The fiber in fruit means that your body is getting some good nutrients along with satisfying your sugar craving. These good ingredients help slow down digestion too which also aids blood sugar levels.
- Make a sugar-free shopping list: Don’t test yourself by tempting yourself. Stick to lean meats, vegetables and whole grains. Avoid processed foods, cold cuts and fruit juices.
- Go for a walk: Exercise can feed into you leading a healthier lifestyle and in turn following a more nutritious diet. In turn, you can also use activities to walk away from cravings by distracting your mind.
- Say no to soda: Drink water instead!
- Don’t be a late night fridge raider: If you need something a little sweet then try to eat a small dessert after your meal, when you can digest the foods together. If you totally deprive yourself then you might find you’re looking for ice cream for a late night snack!
Next week we’ll look at how to reduce salt in your diet too!