Sugar is everywhere. Even food you may not expect, such as white bread, can contain unbelievable amounts of sugar. The sweet taste and addictive nature are ways of ensuring that you will buy more of a certain product. Sugar taps into the pleasure center of your brain and releases dopamine. It's no surprise that many of us boast a sweet tooth and daily cravings for more.
Sugar grants us that quick burst of energy or "sugar high," but sets you up for a crash that will ultimately leave you wanting more. Too much sugar can lead to weight gain, fatigue, anxiety, and even more serious health problems such as diabetes or heart disease. It's a cruel cycle that can easily spiral out of control. For some, it already has--WebMD says most people in the United States eat 19 teaspoons of sugar a day!
Make today the day you change your life for the better. Breaking the sugar addiction isn't going to be easy, but with a little bit of self-discipline, you can certainly do it. Here are a few different methods you can try in order to make cuts where it matters and halt the cycle.
Quit Cold Turkey. There's no time like the present. According to Cleveland Clinic, a 10-day detox should be enough time to reset your body and break the vicious cycle. Completely rid your house of sugary snacks and temptation to start your sugar detox today. If you can get through those ten days, it should only get easier from there.
While this is the most effective strategy, it can also be the most difficult. If you find yourself cheating or "relapsing," that's no reason to give up entirely. Instead, consider a different approach such as...
Make Cuts or Divide by Half. If quitting cold turkey is not working out, start making cuts. Cut the amount of sugar in your coffee by half. Fill up a half cup of iced tea instead of a full glass. Eat one scoop of ice cream for dessert instead of two. Continue on from there. Think about which foods you can cut from your diet that you would not miss.
Drop the Sugary Beverages. You can never go wrong with drinking water. There is an enormous amount of sugar hiding in what we drink. Soda is one of the worst things you can put into your body. Fancy lattes are loaded with syrups and sugars. Fruit juices may sound healthy on the surface, but the truth is, they conceal quite a lot of sugar and carbs. Speaking of which...
Carbs = Sugar. Believe it or not, your body breaks down carbs into sugar. It will grant you that same burst of energy followed by a crash that leaves you looking for more. Common foods that have become staples of our diet such as bread, pasta, rice, potatoes, and snacks such as pretzels, chips, and crackers should be eaten sparingly.
Another fact about carbs is that they will not leave you feeling full for very long. Replace that morning bagel or bowl of cereal with an egg or other form of protein. You may find yourself making it to lunchtime without needing a late-morning snack to get you there. Protein digests slowly and will keep you feeling full for longer so do your best to incorporate more of it into your diet.
Research your Food. Make sure to read those labels! Often, sugar can be hiding where you least expect it. Ketchup is one culprit that is loaded with sugar. Yogurt and peanut butter may surprise you as well. Check out this list of other sneaky sources of sugar by The Healthy.
Redefine Sweetness. By giving up overly sweetened food, you will develop an appreciation for the natural sweetness found in nature. Fruit is a good substitute, particularly berries, which are low in carbs. Over time, healthier options such as carrots or grapes may start to taste sweeter to you since they will no longer be competing with unhealthy amounts of sugar in processed foods.
Treat Yourself (Once in a While). You don't need to deny yourself dessert for the rest of your life. Every so often, feel free to treat yourself to something sweet in order to satisfy that craving. Aim for quality over quantity in order to make it extra special and less fattening.
Consider creating a schedule that you can adhere to. Having a plan will set your intention and offer a better chance of success. Instead of reaching for sweets every night after dinner, make it a weekly treat instead. It will give you something to look forward to while curbing those cravings at the same time.
If you'd like to further examine addictive food disorders, join PBI on August 22 for our upcoming simulcast on Eating, Sex, and Exercise Disorders. This course will cover the early warning signs of these disorders, their impact, strategies to cope, and much more. See you there!