By Mary Pat Baldauf
Studies show that sugar’s effect on our brain can be as addicting as cocaine. Yet the American Heart Association recommends that adult women eat no more than 24 grams, or six teaspoons, of added sugar. (The current average is over 30 teaspoons of sugar per day.) So what’s a woman to do?
These days, I’m working to loosen the grip added sugar, particularly in the form of those pesky, persistent candies wrapped in holiday foil. While Hershey’s Kisses may seem innocent enough, especially wrapped in pastel shades of the season, a handful contains the daily recommended allowance of sugar.
Excess sugar in your diet is unhealthy for many reasons, not the least of which is weight gain. It can raise your cholesterol; cause liver trouble and insulin resistance, which is a stepping stone towards diabetes.
From Rally Health, here are some tricks to help you successfully kick the sugar habit:
- Start with a solid breakfast. The less sugar you eat in the morning, the more balanced you will be all day. High-protein breakfasts have been proven to reduce cravings.
- Plan your meals in advance, to prevent dips in blood sugar.
- Dehydration can make you feel hungry, so drink plenty of water. Add lemon, berries or other fruit to your water to make it more flavorful.
- When you crave sweets, wait 10 minutes and change your environment. Take a walk, or get into a project. Perhaps you can distract yourself out of at least one sugar fix.
- To satisfy your sugar cravings in a more healthful way, turn to vegetables such as sweet potatoes, squash, beets and carrots. Other naturally sweet foods include coconut, bananas, frozen grapes, dates, vanilla, raw cacao and cinnamon (which has been shown to reduce sugar cravings by helping to manage insulin sensitivity). Berries are another option, and their sugars are released more slowly than those of other fruits. And high-fiber foods such as broccoli, cauliflower and kale make you feel full longer than many quickly digested foods such as cereal, bagels and other simple carbohydrates.
- Smoothies are a sweet treat that, if made without added sugars or too many sweet foods and with plenty of fiber, will satisfy without causing a blood sugar surge.
- Avoid artificial sweeteners such as aspartame, saccharin and sucralose, which have been shown to increase sugar cravings.
- Trick your body by eating something sour when you want something sweet. The sour flavor can stimulate the taste buds and distract you from the sugar craving.
- Ginger and turmeric help prevent insulin resistance so don’t be afraid to consume them freely, in turmeric lattes or ginger-infused smoothies, as you work to balance your blood sugar.
If sugar has already hijacked your body and you want off the bumpy ride, hold on tight because you will likely have those drug like withdrawal symptoms for two or three days, and the cravings will likely remain for at least the first week. After that, some of the negative habits and hankerings will dissipate, and hopefully, you can take off your seat belt and enjoy a smoother ride.
Is added sugar a problem for you? What is your weakness? And how do you control your sweet tooth?