Did you know that refined sugar is more addictive than cocaine? Scary, right? Most of us probably crave dessert after dinner or find ourselves eating a whole cake when we intended on eating only a slice. We are now discovering it isn’t just lack of self-control, but your brain’s wiring that makes sugar so sweet and so addictive. Yet, the same sweets that we desire are actually harming us in more ways than we thought. Studies have shown that it is sugar, not fat that makes you fat, sick and tired. Think of your afternoon slump. Have you ever had pop or candy to perk you up only to crash 30 minutes later? Here are some scary but true reasons to quit eating so much sugar today.
Sugar is everywhere and it makes us want more. Check out your pantry and fridge. Chances are you’ll find lots of sugar in things you would never think would include sugar. Tomato sauce for your pasta? Check. Salad Dressings? Check. So you may be eating seemingly “healthy” items containing sugar on top of your desserts and treats. When we eat things with refined sugar in them, our blood sugar rises, then our pancreas releases insulin which lowers blood sugar levels again. When our blood sugar drops, our brain tells us we’re hungry again. This can easily cause overeating without even trying.
Another problem with our blood sugar is that when it gets low, so does our mood. Have you seen the commercial for Snicker’s candy bars, where the character is so angry and moody, they need sugar to feel like themselves again? It is a vicious cycle. We feel moody and sluggish so we reach for a sugary treat, which only causes the same feelings again and again.
For years, we blamed fat for making us fat. But studies show that sugar and carbs make your body release insulin which signals the body to store excess calories as fat. Most of this fat is stored around the midsection and contributes to heart disease, diabetes and other scary diseases.
Lastly, sugar impacts our immune system and makes us less equipped to fight off illnesses. Remember this next time you’re sick. You will get better much faster if you stay away from sugary treats.
If these facts scared you and you want to try to live a sugar-free lifestyle or at least pare down on your sugar consumption, here are a few tips.
1. Get plenty of healthy fat, protein or fiber each time you eat a meal to help keep blood sugar levels even and keep yourself full so you don’t reach for dessert.
2. Get rid of artificial sweeteners. They still make you crave sugar and some even causes cancer. 3. If you’re a heavy caffeine addict, try to cut back. Caffeine and sugar fixes often go hand in hand to get the energy you crave. If you do need your daily fix of a caffeinated beverage, choose coffee or tea. Green tea is a great way to get an energy boost without any added sugars.
4. Try these vitamins and spices: cinnamon, chromium and vitamin C are all great for leveling your blood sugar levels. Cinnamon is also a great way to make food sweeter without sugar.
5. Clean out your kitchen. Get rid of any temptations or things you don’t want to eat. You’re less likely to indulge if it means driving to the store when you have a craving.
Have you ever given up sugar for a period of time? How did you feel? Chances are you had an elevated mood and all around felt healthier and happier. Tell us about it or tell us if you plan to try to limit your sugar intake!