As I mentioned last week, there is just way too much information regarding sugar consumption, sugar addiction and how to shake your sugar cravings for just one blog post. Drinking from a firehose is rarely effective so… I broke the information into two parts. If you missed last week’s, be sure to go back and read it to get the full picture of the discussion.
But, before we get caught up in “slaying the sugar dragon” and overcoming our cravings, we must understand WHY WE NEED to fight this fight. Why it is imperative to run into battle head on. And why your health is at stake if you don’t do something and do it now.
Why do we need to act now and take drastic action?
Sugar is addictive.
Addictive, really? Addiction is a very strong word and a problem resulting in tragedy for many people and families. Is it too strong of a term to describe what we are facing today regarding sugar and its negative consequences? Dr. Alan Greene, MD, author of Feeding Baby Green and Raising Baby Green doesn’t seem to think so.
“So, I’m serious when I say that evidence is mounting that too much added sugar could lead to true addiction,” says Greene.
But why? What does sugar do to our bodies and our brains?
When sugar is consumed, opioids and dopamine are released. That “rush” you experience – feeling all the feels – even tempered, at peace, more energy; the feeling that everything is OK even when it’s not – is real. The craving (read: need) for bread, pasta, cookies and donuts is real because all those foods are loaded with and process into sugar in your body.
Various studies have shown that after consuming sugar the part of the brain that is activated (motivation, novelty & reward) is the same area that is activated after the use of cocaine and heroin.
Although the brain does need glucose to function, too much glucose can have detrimental effects on our heath. Studies done at the University of California, Los Angeles, University of Montreal and Boston University have linked excess sugar consumption to the aging of cells, memory and cognitive issues. Alzheimer’s is often referred to by health care practitioners as Type 3 Diabetes – that speaks volumes.
Remember what we talked about last week?
Sugar = inflammation & inflammation = dis-ease
Sugar = dis-ease
So, what do we do? How can we fight this battle and slay the sugar dragon?
Here are 5 tips you can implement today!
1. Drink water
Sometimes sweet cravings are a sign of dehydration. Before you go for the sugar, have a glass of water and wait a few minutes to see what happens. If it’s a sugar craving the feeling will subside. If it’s actually hunger – make a wise choice like fruit, veggies and guacamole or celery and nut butter. If it’s boredom or habit – go for a quick 10-minute walk. The change of scenery and body movement will change your perspective and rewire your brain.
2. Read your food labels
Look at what you are actually eating. Is it real food? What sugars have they added to fool your brain into thinking it’s delicious? Avoid chemicalized, artificial sweeteners and foods with added sugar. *See last week’s blog for names used to disguise sugar.
3. Eat vegetables and fruit
Be sure to consume more vegetables than fruit (3:1 ration is a good guideline). They are naturally sweet, healthy, full of filling fiber and delicious. The more you eat of good nutritious food that has value for your body, the less you’ll crave sugar.
4. Reduce or eliminate caffeine
The ups and downs of caffeine include dehydration and blood sugar swings and may cause sugar cravings to become more frequent.
5. Get more sleep, rest, and relaxation
Simple carbohydrates, such as sugar, are the most readily usable forms of energy for an exhausted body and mind. If you are in a chronic state of stress and/or sleep deprivation (think 2:00 pm slump), your body will crave the quickest form of energy there is – sugar.
The above tips are simple, but not always easy. It takes a positive mindset.
I can quit sugar.
I am healthy, well rested and vibrant because I don’t eat sugar.
I can walk by that (insert treat here) because I am protecting my cells from aging and deteriorating.
So, Tribe, don’t wait. Start today!
Add these tips to your day.
Practice positive self-talk.
And win this battle against sugar once and for all.
Your future self will thank you!
Until next time, be well!
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Added Bonus - Here are a few more resources to help you understand sugar.
Dr. Mark Hyman, MD, Director, Center for Functional Medicine at The Cleveland Clinic shares these tips on how to quit sugar. It’s a quick 3 minute video so don’t miss out.
Want more? Here’s a longer program from The Cleveland Clinic interviewing Dr. Mark Hyman about sugar.