Most people have a love/hate relationship with sugar, and while sugar may taste wonderful, too much of it may cause both short and long–term health issues. There is no time like the present to become more mindful about the types and volume of sugar you are consuming. There's no time like the present to reduce sugar in your diet and jumpstart your journey to a healthier lifestyle.
The average American's diet is sixty percent processed and void of nutritional value. The Standard American Diet (SAD) is full of preservatives, dyes, salt and sugar…lots of sugar. The average American consumes 152 pounds of sugar each year! Most people are unaware of how much hidden sugar is in their food. You may find yourself overeating these types of foods, or thinking about them…all day long. It's not your fault. There are chemical responses which happen when we eat sugar and we can get caught in a vicious cycle of the highs and lows of sugar consumption.
It's important to understand the facts. Sugar is just as addicting as drugs like cocaine or nicotine. More specific, sugar is eight times more addicting than cocaine. The same chemicals released in your brain during drug use are released when you eat sugar. You feel bliss for a reason…dopamine. But as with drug use your brain begins to adjust and down–regulates the dopamine released, encouraging poor dietary choices which increase your chances of overeating, weight gain, and eventually chronic health issues like depression, diabetes and even cancer.
Are you ready to kick your sugar habit?
Crowd out cravings
Instead of a sugary treat substitute a healthy feel–good habit like exercise, meditation, reading, writing and/or getting out into nature. Each of these behaviors can assist with crowding out your cravings. Try some breathing techniques like 4–7–8 which bring copious amounts of oxygen to the brain. Dehydration can cause cravings so make certain to drink plenty of water.
Look for seventy percent or more cacao in your dark chocolate. However, if you need a “gateway” dark chocolate start with fifty percent and work your way up to a higher count. If you don't like chocolate you can eat fruits like berries, but eat them with nuts or seeds to reduce a spike in blood sugar. Please avoid high–fructose corn syrup at all costs. HFCS is a man–made sweetener the body does not recognize so it takes three times longer for it to “process.” Since your body cannot process it like real food, consuming HFCS can lead to health issues such as fatty liver disease and decreased leptin. Leptin is the hormone that notifies the body when it's full, which is why HFCS has been linked to weight gain and obesity.
If you must purchase processed food attempt to purchase items with two grams (or less) of sugar per serving. Avoid replacing sugar with chemical substitutes. Sugar–free items can be toxic to the body and only increase your negative health issues. Attempt to sweeten with spices like cinnamon, or a low–glycemic sweetener like 100% real and organic maple syrup.
If you feel like you've tried everything but you still feel “hooked” on sugar, consider a sugar cleanse program. There are some side effects to a sugar detox so you may want to seek out a health coach or naturopath who can assist with a successful and relapse–free transition.
Put your health as a priority. You will find once you start to make alternative choices your palate will change and the sugar you once thought you needed is a desire and belief system of the past. The short–term benefits are increased cognitive thinking and energy, weight loss, and a healthier gut. The long–term benefits are the reduction of chronic illness for both physical and mental health issues. Do your best not to be overwhelmed by the process and reach out for support from friends, family and health professionals when necessary. Taking the first step is the hardest, but appreciate yourself enough to make changes which will bring you the healthier lifestyle you desire and deserve!