Kicking Sugar Cravings

Uncategorized Jan 12, 2024

Happy New Year!  I hope 2024 is off to a great start - and finds you ready to commit to your healthiest year yet!

Or maybe you, like many people this time of year, are finding yourself in Post-holiday Sugar-overload Mode.

Maybe one too many ______ (fill in the blank: shortbread cookies...butter tarts...glasses of eggnog... etc.)  over the previous weeks has taken its toll on you and you are feeling their effects on your brain and seeing it on your hips.

That is just the beginning.  There are, in fact, 110 documented ways in which sugar is bent on ruining our health.

You know it is time to stop this nonsense and return to sensible eating, still the sugar cravings persist and you hear that one last remaining box of chocolates tucked away in the back of the pantry calling your name. 

Sugar addiction happens to the best of us, nutritional practitioners included.  And it’s not even our fault exactly.   A 2007 University of Bordeaux study found table sugar, sucrose, (the kind of sugar found in many baked goods and confections) to be more than twice as addictive as cocaine!

Sugar changes our physiology.   It raises the dopamine levels in our brains giving us a temporary feeling of well-being.  But only temporarily.

As with other chemical dependencies, the  "hit" is short-lived.  And as time goes on it  takes ever-increasing amounts of sugar to experience the same level of pleasure.  Hence, the desire for continued use despite adverse consequences.

How do we “get clean” and back in control of healthful eating habits?  Unfortunately, as with most other addictions, the gradual weaning technique does not work. 

So cold turkey it is.  There is no magic formula to stopping the cravings but the following 4-point approach can help ease the process and help set one up for success.

  1. Protein

    Start your day with a high-protein breakfast. This is one of the best kept secrets to stabilizing blood glucose levels and combating sugar cravings. All. Day. Long. Even if you practise time-restricted eating and don’t put anything into your mouth until noon, having 20 -30 grams of protein in that first meal of the day can ward off a blood sugar roller coaster that can last the rest of the day.  Starting with a morning cup of coffee, on the other hand, can do the opposite (just so you know.)
  2. Fibre

    Decrease or eliminate starchy carbohydrates like bread and pasta, and fill up on high-fiber foods like almonds, chia seeds, avocados, and berries, which slow absorption of carbohydrate and prevent blood sugar spikes.  Preventing sugar spikes helps prevent sugar cravings.
  3. Water

    Hydrate. Hydrate. Hydrate. Drink water throughout the day and especially when sugar cravings hit.  Brain function is very sensitive to water intake.  A mere 2 percent dehydration can reduce cognitive function by as much as 30 percent, often leading to poor decisions regarding food choices at those times when “we should know better”.
  4. Alternatives

    Seek out other effective means of activating the pleasure-seeking centers of the brain, which support health instead of destroying it:

Exercising can release endorphins, the "feel good chemicals".  Hot baths or showers for 5-10 minutes can induce feelings of calm and take the edge off cravings.    Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) or tapping can be a useful tool to combat cravings and overcoming sugar addiction, as demonstrated by Jessica Ortner on YouTube. 

Better health... or even exceptional health can be within our reach.  As long as it's not sugar that we're reaching for at the same time.



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