Last week we covered four ways in which sugar is wreaking havoc with your health. This week we look at how you can curb your sugar cravings so you start to feel better.
Notice, I used the word simple, not easy. Remember, sugar is 94 percent more addictive than cocaine. For coke addicts, there are many rehab options. If you are addicted to sugar, the American marketplace has decided you should be bombarded with it at every single moment. While it may feel like the deck is stacked against you, small efforts can yield big rewards. I encourage you start with one of these methods, try it for at least two weeks, and notice any changes that occur. According to Dr. Daniel Amen, research shows that it will take two weeks of totally eliminating sugar to rid it completely from your system. While that may not be a proposition that rings true for you right now, the following is a good starting point.
1. Drink water when you feel hungry. Sugar can send us on a roller coaster of eating, feeling satisfied, hitting a sugar low which manifests as hunger, and binge eating to reach our sugar high again. This is a system controlled by the brain. Often when we are hungry, the body (not the brain) is actually thirsty. If you are feeling hungry, try drinking 8-12 ounces of water first. Wait 15-20 minutes. Are you still hungry? This has two effects. One, it can change patterns in the brain which control hunger and teach the body to turn to water when you crave sugar, thereby changing a habit. Two, if you still are hungry, drinking water prepares the digestive system to receive food and makes it more efficient. Digestion is the most stressful function our bodies perform so aiding it with water is helpful.
2. Replace soda, sports drinks, coffee beverages and juices with water or herbal teas. Soft drinks are the number one source of added sugars in the American diet. Sports drinks tout themselves as "healthy" and "natural" but neither one of those labels is monitored by the government so they are essentially meaningless when it comes to food labeling. Eliminating caffeinated beverages can also help. Many of our coffee beverages are sweetened so you are eliminating a source of sugar. Beyond that, caffeine can also cause energy surges and slumps much like sugar, as well as dehydration and blood sugar swings. Imagine getting off the cycle of energy surges and slumps and no longer medicating the slumps with sugar. What would change for you? How would you feel?
3. Get more sleep. I have a whole post about sleep I'll be posting soon. In the meantime, know that a tired body will do anything to feel just a little bit better, especially if it is in a chronic state of stress and sleep deprivation. Sugar is the most accessible way for a quick hit of energy. The problem is that the hit doesn't last very long. Further, each time you hit that energy slump you need more and more sugar to get to the original level of energy you desire. It's a vicious cycle. To end it, make sleep a priority. Remove all electronics from the bedroom. Develop a regular bedtime and wake time, and be consistent even on the weekends or days off.
Be good to yourself as you explore removing sugar from your diet. It's simple, but it may not be easy.
Sources for this post can be found here and here and here and here.