Are you a cookie’s slave and you gobble chocolate all the time? Take the test below to discover if you’re dependent on sweets:
- Do you eat foods high in sugar – such are sweets, bread, pasta – every day?
- Do you feel tired and irritated in the morning or mid afternoons, but your mood get better after you eat something sweet ?
- Do you feel that you lose control when you eat sweets and you realize that once you start you can not stop ?
- Do you get to have your shopping cart full of biscuits, toffee, chocolate or croissants – even if you put in your head that you will not buy any sweets ?
- Do you have a better mood after you eat something sweet ?
- Have you ever tried and failed to decrease the number of sweets you eat ?
Your results : If you answered yes to more than 2 questions, then you better keep reading because there are chances for you to suffer from a sugar addiction and learn how to reduce the number of sweets you eat and you how you get rid of your “sweet tooth”.
How to get rid of cravings for sweets ?
If you found that cravings for sweets are getting worse after the first candy than this guide is for you. Eating foods that contain more simple carbohydrates and little protein with low amounts of fat, will quickly lead to satisfying hunger and will give you some extra energy in the short term, but hunger returns very quickly.
Simple sugars are consumed quickly, are converted to glucose and thus raise blood glucose. Increased glucose levels lead to the release of endorphin, serotonin, and insulin, simultaneously. Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas, with a very important role in lowering the concentration of glucose in the blood.
When released, it leads to a sudden drop of sugar in the blood. This rapid change in blood glucose concentration, makes you look for more sources of sugars, to return to the previous state. The bottom line is that sugar increases sugar cravings.
For many it is very hard to give up sweets because the sweet taste is the preferred taste since birth. Eating sugar causes the release of chemicals like serotonin and endorphin, that produce well-being and relaxation. Also, sweets have a pleasant taste. All that being said, why we should not eat sweets?
A moderate intake of sweets is not an issue, but like anything else, an excessive one it is an issue. Recommended intake of sugar (in the form of sugar, honey, syrup) is no more than 6 teaspoons a day for women and 9 for men.
This threshold is easily exceeded due to processed foods (cakes, chocolate, biscuits, instant coffee, sugar, jam, candy, jellies, juices). For example, in the US, the average is 22 teaspoons of sugar a day. You should be aware that “average” means that some people consume a lot more than 22 teaspoons of sugar.
Although natural juices, such as apple juice, do not generally contain sugar added and are much healthier than other juices, do not overdo it because it can also raise blood sugar. And that is, pretty much because the sugars present in them are not accompanied by much of the fibers they are found in whole fruit (filtered). If you like apple juices and you like to make them at home, try to find that type of juicer that is using almost all fruit, without affecting the amount of the fibers from fruit (juice extractors at 40-80 revolutions per minute, that squeezes the fruits by cold pressing).
Sugar alone does not cause diabetes only in extreme cases, but it can lead us in that direction. But still, sugar consumption has many negative effects.
There are foods, such as vegetables and fruits, that contain simple sugars, but they also contain proteins, lipids, fiber and complex carbohydrates. These foods are not doing big changes to the concentrations of glucose in the blood, as simple sugars do, and do not need to be removed from the diet.
Is sugar addiction is a real disorder ?
The answer is complex. There is a model by which some people avoid eating sweets, for a period of time and after that, starts to eat sweets in an uncontrolled way – and this is true not only valid for sugar – and this can lead to effects that are similar to those produced by addiction. Sugar affects the brain hormones that make you feel good, which makes sugar even more like illegal addictive drugs and can affect the brain and body.
Sugar is an addictive substance, and because of this property, food manufacturers include it everywhere: in drinks, cereals, yogurts, soups, salad dressings, pasta sauces etc. The more you eat, the more you feel the need.
According to nutritionists, daily demand of sugar for a woman is 50 grams per day, or about 6 teaspoons and 75 grams per day, or 9 teaspoons, for men. This amount does not include fruits, but anything else is, like cookies, chocolate and other sweets, any sweetened food. Syrup, dextrose, molasses, glucose, maltose and fructose are sweeteners that are found on a pile of goods in supermarkets and you have to eat them rarer.
From day to day, appear new studies that add many new dangers in the list of diseases caused by eating sugar: obesity, high blood pressure, anxiety and even heart disease or stroke. In addition, sugar has a major role in tooth damage and premature skin aging. Despite the risks, however, we continue to consume sugar. Why? Because sugar meets all the specific criteria that addictive substances have:
- like alcohol and drugs, consumption of sugar stimulates the release of serotonin and dopamine;
- people consume it compulsively, despite negative consequences proven;
- continued use may develop tolerance to the effects;
- when the body no longer receives the amount of sugar that is commonly used with, occurs sweet cravings (as. in the case of drug, withdrawal occurs).
Sweet Craving Means
Sweet cravings are maintained by regular consumption of sweet foods with high processing and an increased intake of flavor enhancers. In time, the increased intake of sweet leads to insulin resistance. Insulin receptors “get’s used” to the increased levels of this hormone in the blood and this is also, the mechanism by which, every time after eating sweet, a few hours later we get the sweet craving .
The need for sweet is translated by craving processed sweets, that means craving chocolate, cakes, pastry or ice cream. Processed sweet is often associated with unhealthy fats and food additives. And so, sweet cravings lead to a chronically increased levels of leptin. Leptin is the hormone that induces a feeling of fullness and recent studies show that the mechanism is disrupted by chronic consumption of high fructose, a type of sweet used extensively in processed sweets for a more intense sweet taste. That means you do not ever get enough to eat sweets.
Your sweet tooth satisfied with processed sweets brings a higher additional stress to your liver, because of the way our body metabolizes fructose (sugar fructose is used in the food industry for cakes, creams, sweets and frozen).
It is the leading cause of fatty liver due to a non-alcoholic cause, for example. On the list of negative effects, by the long terms, we add a high risk of pancreatic cancer, increased incidence of tooth decay, kidney problems, obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, hypertension, sugar addiction, predisposition to Alzheimer, nutrients deficiency and the list continues. Basically, whenever we satisfy sweet cravings with an intensely processed sweet, our body produces an excess of insulin, that results in seeking for more sweets few hours later. So, we enter into a self-maintained circle of hunger and that amplifies its extremes, as time passes.
Symptoms of sugar addiction
It is possible that, in the case of people who feel they are dependent on sugar, to be only about an eating disorder or simply a bad habit. Anyone can use products with a high sugar content in unhealthy ways.
Possible signs include :
- You lose control and eat more than you planned.
- You feel bad when you don’t get your daily sweet.
- You have a nervous tremor.
Side Effects of Sugar on the Brain
Sugar feeds every cell in the brain. When you overfill with sweet foods, you can affect that parts of the brain that controls the amount of food you eat. In laboratory tests, rats that ate uncontrollably sugar showed changes in the brain similar to those that occur for drug addicts. In humans, only pictures of a milkshake triggered brain effects similar to those seen in drug addicts. These reactions were stronger in women.
Remember that feeling of excitement when you eat a tasty cake? This is because the sugar in it (a simple carbohydrate) that is rapidly converted into glucose in the blood. Simple carbohydrates are found in fruits, vegetables, and dairy products but they have fiber and protein that manage to slow the process.
On the other hand, the body needs to move glucose from the blood into cells for energy. To do this, the pancreas produces insulin. As a result, blood sugar levels can have a sudden drop, which may cause dizziness.
What Stops Sugar Cravings?
To get rid of sugar addiction is easier to be said than done because the roots of this dependency are both physical and emotional. Remember that sugar craving subsides as the amount of the intake decreases.
The first step you should do is to realize that sugar is indeed an addiction, just like cigarettes or alcohol. This was demonstrated by different studies that demonstrate how giving up on sugar causes neurological symptoms similar to nicotine, alcohol or morphine deprivation.
How to keep under control your sugar addiction
In these conditions, can we give up on this addiction ? The answer is yes, and this does not necessarily mean you have to give up on sugar all at once and to reduce it to zero. If you are doing this for the first time, try to reduce consumption by following simple steps.
Do not replace sugar with artificial sweeteners
Although artificial sweeteners seem a miraculous alternative to sugar in coffee or sweets, in fact, over time, they can develop more sugar cravings. A study done on animals in 2008, by the Research Center of Purdue University (Indiana, USA), concluded that ingestion of artificial sweeteners leads to eating more calories per day and thus, to gain weight.
Start doing sports and add milk into your diet
It is shown that high consumption of sugar intensifies the reward mechanisms in the brain, which makes difficult to break the addiction.
For example, the mice who have being administered sucrose tended to feed more from it, sucrose being available in their cages. The solution is to find a replacement that produces serotonin in the brain like sugar does. You have a choice between consuming more milk (one study shows that protein found in milk increases serotonin levels) and sport, an activity that also improves serotonin.
Avoid eating only fat-free products
Many products labeled as “fat-free” actually contain many calories. Salad dressings (rich in fructose), fat-free sweets (muffins, puddings) or fat-free peanut butter. The solution is to eat foods with good fats. They will help you increase slowly your satiety and keep you away from sweets.
Eat small snacks throughout the day
It is a tactic that can distract you from eating something sweet. Keep at handy, wherever you are – at home, at the office or even in your bag – a small bag with a healthy mix of nuts and peanuts, dried fruit and fresh fruit. When you feel the need for sweet, eat your healthy snack and you will see that it will be easier for you to control unhealthy cravings.
Eat less of the food that makes you the greatest pleasure
Try to limit yourself to a few calories a day. Attention, a cake from the sweet-shop can have more than 400 calories from sugar only, but you have to consider also those calories obtained from fat (margarine, butter, cream, vegetable cream, etc.).
Use smart combinations
If you find it hard to stop at just a third of the cake, try to combine a healthy food with a small amount of sweet food. For example, you can consume yogurt with fruit (homemade) with a little honey. Thus, you enjoy the benefits of healthy food and you can satisfy your sweet tooth.
Make a smart switch
When you are craving for something sweet, try to eat fruit. In this way, you get fiber and other nutrients along with the sweetness.
Just make a move
When you are craving for something sweet, try to leave where you are. Take a short walk to another room, another office down the hall, in the block, anywhere, anything for distracting you from sweet.
Quality over Quantity
Higher quality is better than bigger quantity. Instead of a chocolate bar, try to eat something such as a candy of dark chocolate. Sip slowly every piece.
Five is the best number of daily meals
Have three meals each day plus two healthy snacks. A big distance between meals can cause you to choose very fatty and sweet foods, to satisfy quickly your hunger.
Have more from other nutrients
Eat foods rich in protein and fiber (whole grains, meat, eggs, milk, fish, vegetables, peas, lentils, beans).
Remove sweets gradually from your diet
Do not attempt to completely remove all sources of carbohydrates (like fruits) because this type of diet can not be sustained for a long time and you will quickly return to old habits. Remove one product per week (example: dessert after dinner).
Reduce gradually the amount of sugar
Reduce gradually the amount of sugar you put in your coffee, tea or cereals. Thus, taste buds will get used to a lower concentration of sugar.
Get sugar from other sources
For a fruit puree, put grain rather than sugar.
Take an active life
Exercise can make you feel better and this will help you to follow, successfully, a healthy diet.
Try to rest well
If you feel well and rested you will be less tempted to eat sweets. Many people use sweet foods to overcome a difficult, tiring day.
Drink enough water or tea. Craving for sweets may be temporarily banished by drinking fluids that do not contain sugar (water, tea, coffee). This is especially true in winter when a warm cup of tea can be anything you want.
Have tasty meals
Do not eat tastelessly. Your food should be very tasty (do not eat lettuce or other leafy without adding spices). You don’t need to eat a boring, tasteless salad. Try adding both dry spices and fresh spices. Remember to add some olive oil, too. Thus, if the meal lets you satisfied, you will no longer feel a great need for sweets.
Don’t forget about vinegar
Use vinegar in your salads (try to avoid balsamic vinegar because it generally contains caramel). Vinegar regulates blood sugar and decreases cravings for sweets.
Watch over your emotions
See if there are emotional problems that cause your craving for sweets. Often cravings for sweets is generated by emotional needs which are not met. Anyway, do not keep sweets in the house, in your car, on your desk, because you will not be able to eat what is not there. Also, find a quiet place where you can relax for a few minutes as generally sweets craving passes.
If you think that those steps above are too slowly for you, you can completely stop eating sweets, but must be careful not to yield to 48-72 hours because those are the hardest. This method works rarely and it is not recommended because it can do more harm than good. If you make small and simple changes in your diet, it will be much easier to hold them.
Start by eating more vegetables and fruits, drink more water, check the labels and remove products containing too much sugar, discard a small amount of sugar each week, etc. After a few weeks, you will notice that no longer feel the same strong need for sweets and you can resist when necessary.
Although honey, brown sugar, molasses, etc. contain more nutrients than sugar, they are mostly sugar and have the same effect as sugar in terms of the impact on blood glucose levels. Try to use them as an alternative to refined sugar in your products, but keep in mind the above tips. Do not replace sugar with artificial sweeteners because they have many negative effects and usually not significantly decrease sugar cravings.
Keep Your Eyes Open When Choosing Your Nutrients
The labels do not always write sugar, but you can find dextrose, brown rice syrup, corn syrup, cane syrup, glucose, lactose, molasses, sucrose, agave nectar, maple syrup, etc. There are also foods that may contain sugar without the sweetness.
Potatoes, white flour and products containing it, white rice etc. have the same effect on the body as sugar has. Sugar can be hidden in many foods without thinking that you can find it there. Such foods include ketchup, mustard, pasta sauce, barbecue sauce, salad dressings, canned beans, pickles etc. It is, therefore, necessary to get used to reading labels and avoid foods high in refined sugar or other harmful substances.
Don’t forget that the brain requires about four weeks to get rid of bad habits and get used to a new style of eating. According to famous doctors, the key to success to get rid of bad habits is to gradually replace them with healthy eating habits.