Forging further into our month of resolutions, and it should be no surprise that this week’s topic is sugar. Not only is sugar such a huge player in the life of a person with diabetes, it is a huge player in everyone’s nutrition. So in order to take control of our health we are officially diving into the concept of sugar addictions and how to quit for good.
Eating sugar causes a chemical called dopamine (responsible for pleasure) to flood the brain. This is why we feel great for a short period of time after eating sugary treats but as the dopamine levels diminish you feel that all too familiar sugar crash. This crash causes sugar cravings because your body wants the sugar high again, and you get caught in the vicious cycle of sugar highs and lows. This cycle can get so intense that sugar has now been shown to be just as, if not more, addictive than cocaine.
As we discuss reasons and tips for quitting sugar below, there is one thing to note: we are only talking about added sugars! Fruit and healthy carbs absolutely still have a place in a balanced diet. This idea of quitting sugar is not about completely restricting your diet (who can ever make a restrictive diet last long term?) but simply about cutting down on the unnecessary and often hidden sugars that have taken over our food.
Reasons to Quit Sugar
- Helps Manage Blood Sugar: This one is pretty obvious, but also super important! Cutting down on added sugars will drastically help improve your ability to maintain healthy blood sugar levels.
- Empty Calories: There is absolutely no nutritional value in refined sugars, so any added sugars you eat serve no purpose in your diet.
- Weight Loss: Often hidden and added sugar is the culprit behind stubborn belly fat that people have such a hard time losing. As you cut sugar out you may notice a difference in this area even without additional exercise.
- Higher Energy: Breaking the cycle of sugar highs and crashes will help with your overall energy throughout the day. Not to say you won’t want a cup of coffee or that you’ll be suddenly running marathons, but you won’t have that mid-day 2:30 slump.
- Better Skin: Eliminating the processed foods and refined sugars can also improve your skin by reducing inflammation, redness, and even breakouts!
Tips for Staying Clean
- Get Good Sleep: Getting a full night of rest can actually help with your food decision making the next day. You will have the energy to cook a healthy breakfast and to continue making healthy choices as the day goes by, rather than reaching for the quick snacks like chips and cookies.
- Drink Lemon Water: Not only does adding lemon to your water spruce it up with some extra flavor, but lemon helps to detoxify your body. Having sour foods can also help to squash a sugar craving in its tracks.
- Spice Up Your Life: If you’ve always used sugary condiments such as ketchup and salad dressings for your food, start testing out new exotic spices to add flavors to your food! You can also add cinnamon to drinks, yogurt and fruits to give it a natural sweetness.
- Eat Protein and Healthy Fats: Reducing y our sugar intake might leave you feeling hungrier than normal. Fill yourself up with proteins and healthy fats, which are healthy and much more satiating than a sugary treat.
- Get Rid of Temptation: If you are going to try to quit sugar, get rid of all the candy and temptations you may have at home! No matter how strong your willpower having those pints of ice cream within reach makes it very hard to resist when you’re having a craving.
- Learn to Read Nutrition Labels: There are hidden sugars in most packaged foods and sugar has many different names within the ingredients list. Read up on how to properly read nutrition labels here and start to do this regularly while you grocery shop.
- Exercise: Now this one seems like a ploy, but exercising is a great way to occupy your mind for an hour and it is an excellent way to boost your mood if you’re in a slump.
Best of luck to everyone on their sugar reducing journey, and always remember to check with a dietitian or your doctor before making major changes to your diet!