Providing little to no nutrients with lots of calories, sugar is the ultimate diet saboteur.
The sweet, toxic, stuff is the leading cause of a plethora of health conditions that are sucking the life out of people and the world economy.
Research has linked excessive—even moderate—sugar intake to a host of diseases, such as type II diabetes, obesity, infertility, impotence, depression, tooth decay, high blood pressure, you name it.
The list is long and full of terrors.
And we are also eating too much of it.
In fact, roughly 16 percent of the typical American diet comes from sugar, according to The Food and Drug Administration, FDA.
Here are more shocking stats:
Research shows that we went from consuming roughly 10 pounds of sugar per person per year in the 1800’s to about 150 pounds of sugar per person, per year, today.
That’s a lot of sugar.
To put that into perspective: on average we consume about three pounds of sugar every week.
In fact, surveys show that Americans today consume roughly 124 grams—or 30 teaspoons—of added sugar every day. This translate to more than 500 calories, which is more than two 20-ounce soda.
6 Simple Ways to Stop Eating So Much Sugar
In today’s post, I’ll share with you a few guidelines to help you reduce—even eliminate—sugar cravings so you can kick the toxic habit for good.
So, are you excited?
Then here we go.
1. Admit that You’re An addict
The first step toward complete detox is to admit that you’re an addict.
What the f&#% you’re talking about, David?
Well, I hate to break it to you, but here is the scary truth about the sweet stuff.
Sugar can not only take a toll on your waistline and overall health but also, as recent research has shown, it can trigger addiction-like symptoms.
In fact, research has confirmed that sugar intake stimulates the same pleasure centers of the brain as heroin or cocaine.
More specifically, it activates the nucleus accumbens, the region of the brain that produces dopamine, which is the pleasure neurotransmitter.
One example is a study from the Connecticut College that found that Oreos could be as addictive as cocaine, after assessing how the much-loved cookie affected rats’ brains and behavior.
Therefore, just like quitting those hard-core drugs, kicking the sugar habit results in intense cravings and withdrawal, calling for an actual detox process to wean off.
To determine the seriousness of your addiction or the extent to which you have, take the Yale Food Addiction Scale test.
The test consists of 25 questions designed to help you determine whether you have a substance dependency when it comes to the consumption of high-sugar, high-fat foods.
2. Know Your Sugar(s)
To crack down on sugar, it’s crucial to know where it’s located—and often hiding—in your diet.
You might be shocked to learn about how much of these harmful additives is lurking in dressings, barbecue Sause and other sauces, baked beans, flavored coffees, and most packaged foods.
In fact, out of more than 600,000 food products, roughly 70 to 80 percent have added sugar—in one form or the other, according to surveys.
As a result, make sure to read properly and interprets the labels printed below the nutrition facts panel on most packaged food products.
What to Look For?
Added sugar goes by many names, so catching it in the act can be tricky.
Look out for the following;
- High fructose corn syrup
- Fruit juice concentrate
- Brown sugar
- Corn sugar
- Corn syrup
- Cane sugar
- Raw sugar
- Turbinado sugar
- Molasses sucrose
Or better yet, avoid all forms of pre-packaged pre-cooked, and processed food altogether.
3. Drink Water
Water has a lot to offer. It flushes toxins out of your system, hydrates your skin, gives you more energy, ensures proper functioning at the cellular level, etc.
Moreover, staying well hydrated also curbs sugar cravings.
In fact, at times, thirst could be mistakenly confused with hunger, and often all it takes is drinking a glass of water to squash the cravings.
For some people (including yours truly), this eliminates 80 percent of all cravings—which is a good thing if you ask me.
So, before you hit the vending machine or reach for that doughnut, drink a glass or two of water and wait a few moments.
You may find that the pesky pangs go away cause your body was actually calling for water—not food.
Also, make sure that your body is well hydrated throughout the day.
Drink first thing in the morning, carry a water bottle with you, and drink plenty before and after exercise.
Further, keep tabs on your pee color. If it’s dark, you need more fluids. And if you feel thirsty, you’re already dehydrated.
4. Eat Plenty of Lean Protein
Research shows that a higher protein intake helps maintain consistent blood sugar—essential for avoiding cravings.
One example is this study that revealed that subjects who had protein at breakfast reported fewer cravings for junk food.
Go for healthy protein sources, such as:
- Grass-fed beef,
- Raw cheese,
- Wild fish like salmon, tuna, mackerel, etc.
- Low-Fat yogurt,
- Whey protein, ideally from raw goat milk and
- Legumes, such as lentils, beans, and chickpeas.
5. Sleep Enough
For most people, hunger pangs tend to strike the hardest following a terrible night’s sleep, especially after a few days in a row.
For that reason, a simple measure to eliminate cravings for sugary foods is as simple as getting a good night’s sleep.
And this is not just my subjective observation.
Science has found an undeniable link between sleep deprivation and unhealthy food cravings.
According to British researchers, subjects who upped the amount of sleep they’d each night experienced fewer cravings and were able to reduce their intake by as much as 10 grams the next day compared with the amount they consumed before the experiment.
So, why is sleep deprivation conducive to sugar cravings?
According to theory, lack of sleep affects hormones by decreasing the hormones in charge of appetite-suppressing while increasing hunger hormones.
In short, the fewer hours you spend under the sheets, the hungrier you’ll feel.
So, as a result, try to get at least seven to nine hours of uninterrupted sleep during the night’s time.
To meet your sleep needs, incorporate the following changes into your lifestyle:
- Sleep in a completely dark room to increase the production of the sleep hormone, melatonin—key for a more restful night.
- Avoid screens in the few hours before going to bed, and late at night—I know, I know, it’s such a hard to thing to do, but it’s worth it.
- Go to bed roughly the same time every day, even on weekends.
- Cultivate the habit of meditating before sleep to help wind you down before you doze off.
6. Practice Out of Sight Out Of Mind
Here is something you can’t argue with: if your pantry and fridge are full of sweets indulgences, you’re probably going to indulge.
Simple as that.
I don’t know about you, but I’m more likely to go for a treat if I had a chocolate bar or a bag of cookies nearby—especially after a stressful day.
So, go through your cupboards, fridge, and freezer, and get rid of as much temptation as possible.
Lose all the chocolate cookies, the soda, the organic chocolate, the pop tarts, Halloween candy and any other sugar-rich items. Leave nothing to chance. Be ruthless.
In short, declare your living premises a junk-food-free area.
This is how you set your environment up for success. Even if you cannot control every environment you’re in, at least you’d want to control the ones you can—starting from your kitchen.