Sugar is the ultimate diet killer. It provides little to no nutritional value with lots of calories. Yikes!
The sweet, toxic, stuff is the leading cause of a host of diseases. The list is terrifying, and includes type II diabetes, obesity, infertility, impotence, depression, tooth decay, and high blood pressure. You name the disease and there’s a good chance that eating too much sugar makes it worse .
Would you believe roughly 16% of the typical American diet comes from sugar, according to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA)?
As a nation, we are simply eating too much of it.
Here Are More Shocking Stats:
Research shows that our diets have historically shifted, from consuming roughly 10 pounds of sugar per person per year in the 1800s to about 150 pounds of sugar per person, per year today.
That’s a lot of sugar!
To put it into perspective: the average American consumes about three pounds of sugar every week, which weighs the same as half a gallon of milk, a box of wine, or a big can of Crisco shortening.
Not Horrified? Here is more: Surveys show that the average American diet includes roughly 30 teaspoons of added sugar every day. This translate to more than 500 calories, or the same as downing two 20-ounce sodas.
So, are you now serious about kicking this nasty habit? Good. Here are the six strategies you need.
- Admit You’re an Addict
The first step toward complete detox is to acknowledge your addiction.
What are you talking about, David?
I hate to break it to you, but here’s the scary truth about the sweet stuff.
If you’re eating a lot of it, sugar not only takes a toll on your waistline and overall health, but recent research has shown that it can also trigger addiction-like symptoms, and that sugar intake stimulates the same pleasure centers of the brain as heroin or cocaine.
More specifically, sugar activates the nucleus accumbens, the region of the brain that produces dopamine. Dopamine is the neurotransmitter directly associated with pleasure.
One study from Connecticut College assessed how the much-loved Oreo cookie affected rats’ brains and behavior. The scientists found that Oreos could be as addictive as cocaine.
Now I’m not telling you that you should never eat an Oreo. That would just be cruel. But you need to understand that just like quitting hard-core drugs, kicking the sugar habit can result in intense cravings and withdrawal, calling for an actual detox process to wean off.
To determine the seriousness of your addiction, take the Yale Food Addiction Scale test.
The test consists of 25 questions designed to help you determine whether you have a sugar dependency. It also measures high-fat food dependency.
- Know Your Sugar(s)
To crack down on your sugar intake, it’s crucial to know where it’s located—and often hiding—in your diet.
You might be shocked to learn how much sugar is lurking in everyday foods, including dressings, barbecue sauce, baked beans, flavored coffees, and most packaged foods.
Stunning fact: of more than 600,000 food products studied, 70 to 80% have added sugar in one form or the other.
So what can you do? Make sure to read food labels properly and learn to interpret the nutritional facts panel that’s printed on most packaged food products.
What to Look For?
Just like the Devil, added sugars go by many names, so “catching them 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
The best way to ensure that you’re not eating hidden sugar? It’s simple. Avoid all forms of pre-packaged pre-cooked, and processed food altogether.
- Drink Water
Water has a lot to offer. It flushes toxins out of your system, hydrates your skin, gives you more energy, and ensures proper functioning at the cellular level.
On top of all that, here’s the kicker for kicking the sweetness habit: staying well hydrated also curbs sugar cravings.
Thirst is frequently confused with hunger. Some times all it takes is drinking a glass of water to squash cravings.
For some people (including yours truly), drinking water eliminates 80 percent of cravings. That’s a good thing if you ask me.
Before you hit the vending machine or reach for that box of doughnuts, drink a glass or two of water, then wait a few moments. You may find that your body was actually calling for water—not food — and the pesky pangs go away.
To ensure 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 it means that you need more fluids. Remember, once you feel thirsty, you’re already dehydrated. Then it’s too late, isn’t it?
- Eat Plenty of Lean Protein
Research says that a higher protein intake helps maintain consistent blood sugar, which is essential for avoiding cravings.
Want an example? One study revealed that subjects who had protein at breakfast reported fewer cravings for junk food later in the day.
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’s milk
- Legumes such as lentils, beans, and chickpeas.
- Get Enough Sleep
For many, hunger pangs strike the hardest after a terrible night’s sleep. Have a few bad nights in a row and things get even worse.
A good night’s sleep can help eliminate cravings for sugary foods, and this isn’t just my subjective observation. Science has found an undeniable link between sleep deprivation and unhealthy food cravings.
British researchers found when subjects increased their nightly sleep, they experienced fewer cravings. Remarkably, they reduced their intake by up to 10 grams the day after a good night’s sleep.
So, why does sleep deprivation lead to sugar cravings?
The prevailing theory says: lack of sleep affects your hormones. It decreases the hormones that suppress your appetite while increasing the hormones that make you hungry.
In short, the fewer hours you spend under the sheets asleep, the hungrier you’ll feel.
Try to get at least seven to nine hours of uninterrupted sleep every night by incorporating the following changes into your lifestyle:
- Sleep in a completely dark room to increase the production of the sleep hormone, melatonin— it’s key for a more restful night.
- Avoid screens in the 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 a meditation practice before sleep to help wind you down before you doze off.
- Practice Out of Sight Out of Mind
Here’s something you can’t argue with: if your pantry and fridge are full of sweet indulgences, you’re probably going to indulge.
It’s as simple as that.
I don’t know about you, but I’m more likely to go looking for a treat if I know I have a chocolate bar or a bag of cookies nearby.
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 and Halloween candy and any other sugar-rich items. Leave nothing to chance. Be ruthless.
In brief, declare your living premises a junk-food-free area.
This is how you set your environment up for success. Even if you can’t control every environment you’re in, at least you can control the certain ones—starting with your own kitchen.