I’ve always been a firm believer that sugar is a drug and is highly addictive. We crave it, we feel terrible without it, and we have all experienced the “sugar high” and “crash” when we’ve consumed too much.
Although it may not be as damaging or as life threatening as a drug or alcohol addiction, sugar still negatively affects the body and can increase the risk of serious health conditions such as diabetes, heart disease and some forms of cancer.
Just like drugs and alcohol, not everyone is going to become addicted or seek it out regularly. The problem however, is that sugar is available to buy at any age and the amount of highly processed and refined foods that can be readily bought is worrying. So how can we kick the habit? Try the following tips to help beat the sugar addiction.
1. Go “Cold Turkey”
Possibly the hardest but most effective way to beat the addiction is by cutting sugar out of your diet all together. You may experience headaches and other withdrawal symptoms the first few days, but eventually your body will adjust. Make sure you are consuming protein with each meal and include healthy fats in your diet which will help to keep your glucose levels stable throughout the day and keep cravings under control.
2. Take Baby Steps
If going cold turkey isn’t for you, try making gradual changes to your diet instead. Slowly decrease the amount of sugar you add to meals and drinks or try using a sugar-free natural sweetener such as Stevia. Start to cut back on treats and replace high sugar snacks with lower glycaemic, high protein foods.
3. Remove Temptation
Throw away the sugary snacks and treats in your house, and on your next shopping trip avoid those isles that will tempt you. Don’t go shopping hungry and make sure to write a list and stick to it.
4. Eat “Whole” Food
Cut down on the amount of packaged foods you consume. Many seemingly “healthy” snacks contain a large amount of hidden sugar such as muesli bars, breakfast cereals and dried fruit. Your diet should be made up predominately of unprocessed and unrefined foods such as fresh fruits, vegetables, healthy fats and high protein foods such as free-range eggs, meat and fresh fish.
5. Pick Protein and Fat to Curb the Cravings
Protein and fat take longer to digest keeping you fuller for longer. Unlike sugar and simple carbohydrates, protein and fat won’t cause large spikes in blood sugar levels and will help to keep you satisfied as well as keep the cravings at bay.
6. Eat Regularly
Skipping meals lead to a fall in blood sugar levels, which can result in cravings for high sugar snacks. Eating every 3-4 hours will keep your glucose levels stable and make you less susceptible to these cravings. Aim to eat a healthy breakfast including protein the morning and make sure you have healthy snacks on hand throughout the day rather than leaving long gaps between meals.
7. Join Forces
Don’t go it alone. Get a friend or family member to do a sugar free challenge with you, tell your workmates, start a blog or post it on Facebook. Telling your friends and family will provide you with the support you need to beat the sugar addiction!
8. Start a Food Diary
Begin to write down all the foods you eat along with the time that you eat them. Next to each food item, note down how you were feeling at the time. Were you hungry, bored, upset or angry? A food diary is a great way to notice when and why you have particular cravings and will help you better prepare for the days and weeks ahead to eventually beat the addiction.
Try the following low sugar snacks for when cravings arise:
- An apple with organic peanut or almond butter
- A handful of nuts and raisins
- Cottage cheese with sliced apple or strawberries
- 150g of natural yoghurt with ½ cup blueberries
- A smoothie made with ½ banana, 150ml water, 150ml trim milk, and a scoop of protein powder.