Research shows that a sugar addiction equals that of heroin. Is your sugar intake out of control?
I’ve loved sweets since early childhood, and have built up my tolerance to consume sometimes up to 100 grams of sugar per day (whole pint of ice cream, chocolate milk, sweet cereal, etc). For an average person, only about 30-35 grams per day is recommended by nutritionists. There were times, when I went to the store specifically to buy sweets, and I felt that I was not myself – that something was pushing me to do it. Pretty scary.
Why you should care:
- Sugar tricks your brain about how full your stomach is, and makes you want to eat more. Test it out on yourself. Eat a 500 calorie milk chocolate bar versus 500 calorie chicken and vegetable meal. Which one makes you fuller? Metabolic differences are vast, and after eating sweets, you continue to intake more calories to satisfy hunger
- It breaks down your collagen (skin protein), helping cellulite form on your skin. Collagen is what makes your skin look plump and youthful. When collagen cells join with sugar to break it down, they basically get destroyed. ELLE magazine explains in detail about the phenomenon. Once your tissue is weaker, cellulite dimples appear. Yuck!
- It damages your liver, and eventually causes acne. Sugar is a toxin, and as with all toxins, our liver helps cleanse them out of the body. Liver is responsible for processing fructose (think of it as raw sugar), and in a high quantity and speed (think of it as drinking soda or eating a sugary cookie), the liver will turn all into fat. Va-la!
- It ruins teeth enamel, causing cavities. Sugar is severely acidic, and acid kills the teeth. This goes hand in hand with artificial sweeteners, such as Splenda or Sweet & Low. They are all more acidic than coffee.
- It has no nutritional value/vitamins/minerals to be beneficial for your body.
- Sugar causes roller-coaster energy levels. We have all heard about “bouncing off the walls,” and then “crashing.”
- There is a high correlation between obesity and the consumption of sugar, as well as, obviously, diabetes.
The list goes on and on.
You’re maybe thinking: “Ok, it’s great to see all this information, but how do you kick a habit like this?” Here’s my personal rehab advice.
For different people, it’s different ways. Some can gradually come down, consuming less and less of sugar every day. Some, (like me), need to just throw it out the window.
In order to stop a body shock, it would be helpful to:
- Substitute the processed sweet snacks with apples or a favorite fruit of your choice, so that energy can be preserved. Our bodies need some sugar for energy, obviously. The good thing about fruit is that its fiber content slows down the breakdown of its sugar content, making the stomach spend energy for digestion. Fiber is also helpful in excretion. Additionally, fruits have vitamins!
- Use Stevia as a substitute. Stevia is a plant-derived sweetener that has zero calories and a low glycemic index (it won’t make your blood sugar sky-rocket). Never, ever substitute with artificial sweeteners! They are worse than white refined sugar itself.
- Train your mind to think that those pretty donuts and cupcakes, cookies, and ice cream are all made of the poorest and most processed materials (junk) and = POISON. Now, every time I walk past a donut stand, I just think of dangerous, poisonous, and addictive stuff! And it makes me look away. If I associated the sweet junk food with pleasure, I would naturally want to buy it! What do YOU associate sweet junk with? Cure from depression? Quick energy fix?
- Imagine your happy stomach. Picture it being delighted, and squirming (like a cartoon character), when consuming nutritious foods. Anthony Robbins, author of Awaken the Giant Within, says that a human brain cannot tell the difference between fantasy and reality. As long as there is a mental picture (and you can make it up anytime, anyplace), your brain will believe it! When I thought of my body being very happy when I ate healthy stuff, I created positive associations.
- It takes about 2 weeks to get used to new habits. The key is consistency! In 2 weeks, you can become a different person! My approach was to challenge myself. So I literally went on a “sugar-free diet.” For a few days, I consumed as little sugar as possible. Once I did a few days, I was able to extend my challenge for longer. After a while, the body normalizes and adjusts to the new lifestyle, and no longer sends craving requests!
What are your strategies to stop sugar cravings? Do YOU have a success story?
Supplemental reading and information sources:
New York Times