Breaking the Sugar Habit
Have you ever wondered why once you eat something sweet, you keep craving more sugar? It’s not a coincidence; sugar addiction is real! If sweets are getting in your way of achieving your health goals, you CAN break the habit!
In today’s society, we eat ‘dessert’ several times a day and don’t even bat an eye. What’s now considered normal, shouldn’t be. Think about it – sugary cereal for breakfast, donuts at the office, chocolate from the candy dish, and ice cream after dinner. Has your day ever looked like that? Treats can have their place in a healthy diet; that’s called balance. But treats need to be truly considered treats, meaning you only have them on rare occasions. It’s no secret that sugar is detrimental to our health in many ways, but it’s hard to say no!
Why is it so hard to avoid sugar? Humans are hard wired to enjoy sugar. It tastes good, sometimes makes us feel good, and it’s addictive. When we eat sugar, the pleasure centers in our brains release feel-good chemicals. This is the same effect that drugs, like cocaine, have on our brains. The brain likes that feeling, and wants more, which is why we crave more sugar.
How do we stop that vicious cycle?
- Try totally eliminating all forms of sugar for two weeks. It will be difficult for the first few days, but trust me, once you’ve broken the cycle, the cravings should decrease. This is scientifically proven and personally tested by me, a dietitian with a sweet tooth.
- Modify your environment. If you’re constantly surrounded by sugary treats, how long can you really avoid them? If they’re not easily accessible, you’re less likely to eat them. That may mean throwing away the leftover Halloween candy. Believe me, nobody needs it.
- Limit the artificial sweeteners. Even though a sugar free cookie might be a lighter alternative, it’s still a treat. Artificial sweeteners, such as Splenda, are many times sweeter than sugar; so sometimes they only perpetuate the craving for sweet.
- Find other ways to cope with stress. Often times on a stressful day, nothing sounds better than getting lost in a pint of ice cream. Finding other ways to manage stress will serve your emotional health and your waistline. Jot down some ideas of activities you could do instead, such as going for a walk, playing with your pet, calling a friend or listening to music.
Alissa Lorchick, RD, LMNT