We have all heard about the ill effects of sugar for some time now. For anyone with a sweet tooth (or teeth!), we know that cutting down on the sweet stuff is in our best interest but it still may seem like a herculean task.
Contrary to what your friends and spouse may say, it is not all in your head. Scientists have found that sugar is addictive and stimulates the same pleasure centres of the brain as some hard-core drugs. Similarly, getting off sugar leads to withdrawal and cravings, requiring an actual detox process to wean off.
So, given these studies and the fact that consuming sugary treats is normalized in marketing and popular culture, is there any hope? Can you really break free from a sugar addiction? The answer is yes, and it doesn’t necessarily include admitting yourself to a rehab facility for six weeks. I have scoured some key findings and come up with three tips for quashing your sugar addiction.
1) Find rewards that really work
For so many of us, sugary treats are a comfort. They are a reward after a long day or getting us through a stressful situation. Without that comfort, you may feel anxious. In order to cope, develop a new stress response or reward. Find ways to take care of yourself that you can use in place of sugar, things that deeply nurture you without the side effects and addictions
Suggestions: a hot bath, a massage or manicure, walking outdoors
2) Improve your sleep habits.
In 2013, researchers from UC Berkeley published a study showing that sleepless nights have a direct impact on brain regions that control decision making. A lack of sleep can also make us more inclined to crave fast food rather than healthier options. In June 2013, another team of researchers led by Lauren Hale, PhD, Associate Professor of Preventive Medicine at Stony Brook University School of Medicine, presented research showing that well-rested teenagers make healthier dietary choices than their sleep-deprived peers. Bottom line: rest up for better impulse control when it comes to your eating habits.
3) Eat fat and protein
According to Sarah Wilson, longtime journalist and author of I Quit Sugar, this step is key to quitting sugar successfully. Wilson says that once you take out sugar, the best thing you can do is replace it with fat and some protein. Her preference is for wholesome, unprocessed fats and quality protein, such as eggs, cheese, nuts and coconuts. According to science, fat and protein re-regulates appetite hormones wonderfully so that we can get back to three meals a day, no snacking.
Have you successfully quit a sugar habit? What worked for you? Let us know!
by Kim England
How to end your sugar addiction – CNN – CNN.com