Donuts And Other Sweets Are Common Sources Of Added Sugar
If you usually have a hankering for something sweet after meals, find it hard to pass up dessert, or rely on sugar-filled coffee drinks for an afternoon pick-me-up, youre not alone. A study published in June 2017 in Appetite found that 86 percent of people who had food cravings thought about high-calorie foods specifically, those containing chocolate.
The good news: Reaching for healthy foods high in nutrients like protein and fiber can help stave off unhealthy hankerings.
Here are some of the foods that can help keep cravings for sugar at bay:
- Seeds, such as sesame and chia
- Pulses, such as beans, lentils, and chickpeas
Below, find a full list with the scientific reasons why they may be effective. Plus, learn more about what may be behind your sugar cravings in the first place.
Sugar Addiction And Anxiety
Anxiety and sugar craving have a direct relationship. Eating disorders like binge eating or anorexia occur for underlying reasons. Often times, the person suffering from such disorders is struggling for psychological and emotional reasons. Stress eating is common example of the relationship between eating disorders and anxiety, and sugar consumption is commonly associated with stress eating.
Anxiety causes the stress hormone cortisol to be released in the body, which can suppress appetite in some. On the other hand, the stress may encourage people who already like sugar into more cravings. When sugar addiction co-occurs with eating to soothe anxiety, the end result is typically weight gain. Despite sugar initially boosting serotonin levels in the brain, sugar can worsen anxiety as sugar lows create feelings of fatigue and depression.
Why Are We Addicted To Sugar
So maybe now you’ve accepted that sugar addiction isn’t a hoax, or even admitted that you have at least a small addiction to sugar — but if it’s so dangerously addictive, why are sugary foods so commonplace?
One reason that we eat so many sugary items is because of the global rise in sugar-rich fast food consumption. The fast food market was worth more than $539 billion in 2016, and is expected to top $690 billion in 2022. Not only is the fast food economy growing, but the portions are too — an analysis of serving sizes at 10 popular US fast food restaurants showed that entrees, sides and desserts increased significantly in size and calories from 1986 to 2016. Almost all fast food meals, including everything from a cheeseburger to a Chipotle burrito bowl, contain a surprisingly high amount of sugar.
Any fast food meal is loaded with added sugar.
But even if you cook for yourself most of the time, it’s still harder than you think to completely avoid sugar. For starters, food with added sugar is easy on the wallet — one comprehensive study found that grains and sugar food groups were cheaper than vegetables and fruits per calorie.
So, even if you try to avoid obvious culprits such as donuts and ice cream, sugar is lurking in more of your staple groceries than you may think. Foods often labeled “healthy” such as fruit-flavored yogurt, granola, dried fruit and canned soup all contain a significant amount of added sugar.
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How To Break A Sugar Addiction
Those cookies you smell at the holidays, the ice cream that makes your eyes light up in the summertime and the candy jar full of tempting chocolates all have one thing in common they’re loaded with sugar.
There’s something about sugar that speaks to your brain, evoking feelings of happiness with each bite of food or each sip of your favorite sugary drink you consume. It’s part nostalgia and part chemical reaction. The more you eat, the more you crave, which can lead you down a road of long-term health problems.
We’re here to discuss what makes sugar so habit-inducing, how you can kick your cravings and which foods you can substitute to please your sweet tooth.
Symptoms Of Cutting Added Sugar From Your Diet
Cutting added sugar from your diet may lead to physical and mental symptoms.
How the body reacts to giving up sugar is different for everyone. The symptoms and their severity will depend on how much added sugar you were taking in through sweetened foods and beverages.
Some people find that their symptoms last from a few days to a couple of weeks.
As your body adapts to a low added sugar diet over time and your added sugar intake becomes less frequent , the less intense your symptoms and cravings for sugar are likely to be.
You may find that your symptoms are worse at certain times of the day, such as between meals. Stress may trigger for sugar, so you may find that your symptoms feel worse during times of stress.
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Nd Step: Begin Therapy
Once the detox is complete, the next step is to begin therapy to address the underlying issues that led to the addiction. A professional therapist can assist with pinpointing the contributing problem.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy is an effective approach for treating sugar addiction. This type of therapy helps individuals to identify and change the thoughts and behaviors that contribute to their addiction. Medication can also be used to treat sugar addiction.
- Anti-anxiety medications
- Anti-craving medications
There are a number of doctors who are now specializing in sugar addiction treatment. This type of binge eating disorder involves helping the person to break the addiction and then teaching them how to live without sugar. This can be a difficult process, but it is one that can be successful if the person is willing to work hard at it.
Sugar Addiction And Emotional Eating
People may find sugars ability to provide instant energy, combined with the good taste of sugary foods, enticing. Sugar provides some with a quick fix during a long and stressful day. People who are enduring breakups or other emotionally stressful situations often turn to chocolate or pints of ice cream to comfort themselves during the difficult time. However, those who turn to sugar to deal with emotional issues are more likely to become addicted. Other indications of sugar addiction for emotional relief are weight gain and difficulty focusing on daily responsibilities. These side effects can damage self-esteem, cause feelings of helplessness, and lower self-worth this in turn leads to more sugar consumption and a more severe addiction.
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What Can Your Sugar Cravings Say About Your Health
As discussed above, a sugar craving could mean that your body is lacking a vitamin or nutrient, or that your blood sugar levels are off.
Registered dietitian Farah Fahad recommends adding more protein to your meals, so your blood sugar levels dont drop. The body is a well-built machine, and if you are not giving it the right foods, it will say, Give me sugar! she explains. It wants energy for all the thousands of biological processes that are happening.
Combine Multiple Techniques And Strategies To Deal With Sugar Cravings But Only Choose The Right Ones For You
The links below are from a variety of different websites. Some websites make money through advertising or brand exposure, like Huffington Post and Doctor Oz, while some sites make money by selling books or products elsewhere on the site. Whenever researching health topics online, use your discernment to decide if the techniques and strategies presented are right for you, and be cautious about spending any money on the site or taking unfamiliar supplements. When in doubt, ask your doctor.
10 Secrets for Ending Your Sugar Cravings For Good
This article lists 10 techniques for dealing with sugar cravings that include avoiding processed foods, eating plenty of greens, meditating, and consuming fermented foods like sauerkraut and yogurt.
How To Break Your Sugar Addiction
Susan Biali M.D. gives you 5 practical strategies in her Psychology Today article for breaking your sugar addiction including going for low glycemic snacks like fresh blueberries and strawberries instead of treats with added sweeteners.
Easy Ways to Kick Your Sugar Addiction
Dr. Oz offers 4 helpful hints that include adding fruit to your meals and weaning yourself off sugary sodas by increasingly diluting them with seltzer.
20 Tips to Curb Sugar Cravings and Kick the Addiction
Sugar Addiction Escape Plan
This article presents 10 thoughtful and kind tips for self-care while you are dealing with sugar addiction, such as creating a supportive environment, knowing your true value, and forgiving yourself.
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Set Clear Boundaries With Sugar
Willpower is not what you need to set clear boundaries with certain foods. It is practicing self-respect and self-care.
Put yourself in control. Do not let sugar navigate your ship your body is yours to live in and you need a healthy, resilient one to ensure a long, happy life.
Excess sugar contributes to oxidative stress in your body, leading to inflammation. In turn, inflammation causes chronic diseases, including type two diabetes, heart disease, cancer, obesity, neuropathy, and dementia.
Put your mind to it and make an agreement with yourself that you will minimize processed and sweetened foods. But do not just focus on taking stuff out of your diet focus on adding stuff in.
The Sour Side Of A Sweet Tooth
Ever raided the biscuit tin? Tucked into treats at the office? Added an extra spoonful of sugar to your coffee? Sugar has become a staple ingredient of modern day eating, and everyone, with or without diabetes, can benefit from limiting their intake.
But, in our sugar-laden diets, this is easier said than done, particularly as sweet food is often offered as an expression of love in our food-abundant cultures. We take a look at the psychological reasons behind sugar cravings, in an effort to help you master them…
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Dont Add Sugar To Foods
Many everyday recipesincluding those for vegetables, soups, casseroles, and saucescall for sugar to add sweetness. In most cases, its just not needed. So if youre making biscuits, for instance, you probably can skip the sugar. Substitute applesauce or pureed prunes or dates for half the sugar in recipes you can also use them in place of the recipes fat. Sometimes it doesnt work, in which case, looking for or developing a lower sugar version is the best bet, says Eich. Make your own barbecue sauce, which will cut out the extra sugar in the ketchup. Learn what eating sugar does to your skin.
Clues A Person Has Sugar Addiction
A sugar addiction can manifest in many ways, including
- Intense craving for junk foods
- Difficulty resisting foods with added sugar
- Eating too much sugar foods despite negative consequences
- Feeling irritable or creating coping mechanisms to deal with withdrawal symptoms when sugar is not consumed\
- Hoarding high sugar foods
- Bingeing on far too much sugar
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Win The Inner Battle With Sugar
Sugar cravings, as well as cravings for reward, solace and celebration, are natural. Remember its ok to use sugar to deal with lifes problems some of the time most people do. Difficulties occur when sugar becomes the go-to way of dealing with problems it wasnt designed to fix. By figuring out what you are truly craving, and developing a range of ways of dealing with it, you will be in control, not the sugar.
Sugar And Heart Disease
- As daily calories from sugar increase so does cardiovascular disease mortality.
- Individuals who consume more than 10% of calories from sugar have a 30% higher risk of death from heart disease. People who consume more than 25% of calories from sugar have triple the risk.
- Even moderate consumption of sugar for a short duration may cause substantial harm.
- One sugar-sweetened beverage a day results in an average 16% higher risk of heart disease.
- Diets high in sugar induce many abnormalities associated with CHD risk including elevated glucose levels and insulin, leptin resistance, and fatty liver disease among others.
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Sugar Cravings Vs Illegal Drugs Cravings Like Heroin
Studies have shown that sugar induces the same dopamine reaction in the brain as heroin. Sugar activates the reward center in the brain, causing a person to feel pleasure. This pleasure is short-lived, however, and leads to a person wanting more and more sugar. As a person consumes more sugar, they develop a tolerance, meaning they need more and more to feel the same effect. This can lead to addiction and serious health problems.
Sugar Has Similar Chemical Substance Abuse in the Brain as Illegal Drug Addiction
Sugar has a chemical process on the brain that can lead to hyperactivity, anxiety, and even depression. When sugar is consumed, it causes a release of dopamine in the brain. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that is associated with pleasure and reward. This release of dopamine can lead to a feeling of euphoria. However, the body quickly adapts to this sugar high and the person can come crashing down, leading to feelings of anxiety and depression.
Serotonin and Dopamine Relation to Sugar Cravings
Serotonin is also released in response to sugar consumption. Serotonin is associated with feelings of happiness and contentment, while dopamine is associated with the feeling of pleasure. Sugar consumption leads to the release of both of these neurotransmitters, which leads to the feeling of pleasure that is often associated with eating sugary foods.
Stage Two: Clean Out The House
The best way not to be tempted by sugar? Make sure you have none of it in your house!
You cant control all the environments youre in, but this is the one you can control, making it the priority.
Make sure your house is stocked with lots of healthy food and that there are no sugary snacks calling out your name.
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Focus On Overall Diet Quality
Studies show that improving overall diet quality can help minimize cravings for sugary foods and enhance cravings for healthier foods.
For example, eating fewer foods high in added sugar like ice cream, cake, and cookies and increasing your intake of nutrient-dense foods like beans, vegetables, fish, and whole fruits may help reduce your reliance on added sugar and help you crave healthier foods.
Increase Your Dietary Fiber Intake
Eating high fiber foods may help you stave off hunger and cravings. They take longer to digest, causing you to feel fuller for longer.
High fiber foods also contribute to healthy blood sugar regulation. Keeping your blood sugar levels stable may help prevent cravings.
Aim for high fiber vegetables, beans, and legumes.
Pairing high protein and high fiber foods is best for healthy blood sugar control. Examples include mixing high fiber veggies like broccoli into your eggs or spooning some pumpkin seeds over your oatmeal.
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Stage Four: Cant Control Yourself Outside The House Be Prepared
So you are eating a healthy diet now but only at home.
Despite your best efforts, maybe you just cant control yourself when you are surrounded by shops, bakeries, and cafes selling tempting treats.
So what can you do?
- Take lots of healthy snacks to work eat them if you start getting a craving.
- Only take the money you need to work/school with you.
- Leave your bank cards at home. If you dont have money, you cant spend it.
Go For Portion Control
Because sugar addiction is biologicalânot emotional as is so often thoughtâthis might not work for everyone. Many people can’t live by “three-bite rules,” but that doesn’t mean there’s any harm in trying. “A good way to do this is to buy higher sugar foods in single serving sizes to help with portion control in the moment,” Paul says. If you don’t have more than four Oreos at home, you can’t eat more than four Oreos.
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Sometimes Its Possible To Create Changes In Life To Get These True Cravings Met:
- Leave or speak up in a relationship that isnt working for you
- Read a book that teaches skills to communicate differently to people that leave you feeling angry/taken advantage of
- Find more creative ways of rewarding yourself
- Change your job, or negotiate different conditions.
If its possible to make the change then do so, and notice what happens to those sugar cravings. But sometimes it feels impossible to make these big changes and we can feel very stuck. Often just the insight of what you are truly craving loosens the grip of power that it has over you. So rather than saying to yourself, Whats the matter with me, I just cant resist sweet food, you can instead start to see the craving as an attempt to get an important inner need met. You can begin to have a different conversation with yourself, Ah I see, Im craving this sugary food because of XYZ.
Sugar doesnt have to be the enemy, to be battled. When we switch our mind-set to see the sugar as an attempt to take care of ourselves, we can start to think creatively about our choices. Think of a child you know. Yes, they might want to keep eating sweet food until theyre sick, but as a parent, you likely allow sugar in moderation, and then engage them in a distracting activity that will appeal at least as much. What might be your equivalent? After all, as adults we too need a good balance of work, rest and play.