“The average Briton consumes 238 teaspoons of sugar each week.”
For reference, that is almost 5 cups.
Sugar has a taste everyone enjoys – sweetness. In fact, our brains are wired to do so.Eating something sweet tells your brain that the item being eaten is a good and safe source of carbohydrates whereas a bitter or sour taste warns your brain it may be poisonous and thus should not be eaten. It is a good way for your brain to distinguish necessary good foods. Sugar feeds the cells in your brain and this is how we thought way back when we were scavenging for our food.
However, today sugar is plentiful and thus so are sugar addictions. The more sugar one eats, the more one needs to feel satisfied (similar to drug addictions). There is such a thing as a ‘sugar high’ – sugar acts as a reward, stimulating the brain’s pleasure receptor by increasing dopamine in the short term. If you eat a lot of sugar often, that reward gets reinforced resulting in a craving that is hard to beat. You may be addicted to sugar if you eat certain foods to satisfy a craving even when you are not hungry, you often feel tired and sluggish, you need an increasing amount of some foods to feel satisfied, and you are dizzy and shaky when you don’t get your sugar fix.
When one who is addicted to sugar decides to stop eating sugar, the withdrawal symptoms are like that of a drug’s, such as depression and anxiety. If you believe you have a sugar addiction, congratulations because the first step to overcoming it is simply noticing those cravings and how they make you feel!!!
To decrease sugar cravings you can:
- Get a full 7-8 hours of sleep
- Maintain a balanced blood sugar level (eat a healthy breakfast and eat every 3-4 hours)
- Avoid sugary foods (obviously, and artificial sweeteners count too!)
- Get more sunshine or take vitamin D supplements
- Eat foods with a low glycemic index
- Remove temptations – out of sight, out of mind
- Exercise 30 minutes a day
- Stay hydratedKeep healthy snacks close-by
- Notice if you are hungry, or emotional eating
- Retrain your taste buds
- Choose sweet alternatives such as fruit or berries
- Fill up one fibre and protein
- Always check food labels or sugar or added sweeteners
- Know what you are eating – research names for sugar such as dextrose, high-fructose corn syrup, etc.,
Read more about what sugar really does to your brain in “This is what happens to your brain when you stop eating sugar,” an article from Quartz, a digitally native news outlet.