Sugar, The Sweet, Sweet Poison
Dealing With Sugar Addictions
Sugar addictions are something I have personally dealt with all my life. As a child I was rewarded with sugar, given sugar to stay quiet, sugar as a bribe and grew up on sugary breakfast cereal. I would raid the cookie jar, literally, at night. I risked punishment to get to the candy drawer. I could sniff it out anywhere! I was addicted to one of the most potent drugs by the time I was 5. Sound familiar? It’s a wonder we all survived!
I finally broke my addiction due to blood sugar fluctuations seriously affecting my moods. It was a challenge! However, this is also how I came to become known for my healthy raw desserts! Life can still be sweet on the healthy side of the street!
The American Heart Association says the average American eats about 22 teaspoons of added sugar a day! To contrast this, they recommend not consuming more than 6 teaspoons a day for women and 9 teaspoons for men. Thats a mighty big difference!
Let’s take a look at just one of the biggest sugar culprits in the Standard American Diet: processed breakfast items.
- Pop Tarts: 17 grams, slightly more than 3 teaspoons (Half the daily allowed)
- Cinnabon Cinnamon Roll: 55 grams, 11 teaspoons (Three times the daily allowed)
- Captain Crunch 3/4 cup: 12 grams, 3 teaspoons (Half the daily allowed)
- Yoplait Yougurt: 27 grams, just over 5 teaspoons (1 teaspoon shy of the daily max!)
You might as well just eat a Twinkie! Even the “healthy” bars are loaded!
- Twinkie: 2 pack, 37 grams, over 7 teaspoons (over the daily max)
- PowerBar: 23 grams, about 5 teaspoons (but it’s healthy right? No.)
Our brains become hard wired for that sweet sensation that stimulates the natural “feel good” chemicals in our brain, like serotonin, which calms and relaxes us. We get addicted to the opioid effect that is triggered by sugar. Sugar is literally a very addictive drug.
The over consumption of sugar can lead to a vast array of health issues including:
- Type 2 Diabetes
- Excess weight
- Mood swings
- Digestive problems
- Impaired immune system
- Inhibits mineral absorption
- Tooth decay
- Raises bad cholesterol and lowers good cholesterol
- Can lead to certain types of cancer (sugar feeds cancer cells).
It's a SAD Culture
In our culture we are bombarded with advertisements for processed, refined, nutrient devoid food that is laden with sugar everywhere we go. Sugar is in everything from breads, cakes, cookies, jams, sauces, peanut butter and even soup! Read the labels!
When we begin to see how sugar affects our health and mental state, for many of us, we are really looking at a drug addiction. When you start coming off sugar, expect to experience detox symptoms similar to alcohol or any drug and make a plan to deal with these symptoms.
What You Can Do
Here are some ways to eliminate sugar cravings and stabilize your blood sugar.
- Eat regularly: Eating every 3-5 hours keeps your blood sugar stable
- Include protein, fat, fiber rich foods at each meal
- Reduce or eliminate caffeine: The highs and lows of caffeine cause blood sugar swings and can trigger sugar cravings.
- Use better sources of sugars like pure maple syrup, stevia, dates, coconut sugar or brown rice syrup. Use in moderation.
- Evaluate your use of animal products as the over use can cause sugar cravings.
- Eliminate snack and junk foods! Choose fruit as a snack or dessert.
- Spices such as cinnamon, coriander, nutmeg and cloves sweeten food and reduce cravings.
- Exercise balances blood sugar, increase feel good endorphins and keeps your weight in check.
- Get plenty of sleep, when your body is tired it craves energy in the form of sugar.
- Find non food source of sweetness in your life like hugs or time with friends. When life is sweet you don’t need the added sugar!
- Drink more water: Often sweet cravings are a sign of dehydration.
Did you know that soft drinks are Americas #1 source of added sugar? The average can of soda contains 39 grams/8 teaspoons, 1 bottled soda contains 65 grams/13 teaspoons and a Big Gulp contains 91 grams/18 teaspoons. Remember the daily recommended MAX is 6 teaspoons for women and 9 teaspoons for men!
Need a Little Help?
Supplements you can try for sugar cravings are chromium, magnesium (naturally found in cacao or high quality chocolate), B3, L-Glutamine and 5 HTP.
Adding more fresh, raw, whole, foods to your diet will help. The more you add these foods you will “crowd out” the bad foods. If you have a sugar craving try eating a date. They remind me of eating caramel! They are full of minerals and fiber! Most raw desserts pack a nice sweet punch without the sugar spike. They often contain cashews, and as we saw in yesterdays post cashews are a wonderful natural antidepressant. There are also many amazing healthy chocolate products on the market....Because what would life be without a little chocolate right? ;)
And always...always, find ways that have nothing to do with food to add some sweetness into your life! Hugs, babies, puppies, massage....What is one sweet non food thing YOU do to treat yourself?
In Love and Health, Lori Clayton LMT, CHHC