Sugar addiction is a real thing. Sugar causes the brain to release dopamine and serotonin. This causes a feeling of euphoria and a natural high similar to liquor and drugs. Most people know that sugar is bad for them but continue to eat it anyway. People that are used to eating large amounts of sugar daily have hard time functioning without it. They will experience withdrawal symptoms if they don’t have it.
According to the Amercan Heart Association the average person in the United States consumes 22 teaspoons of sugar per day. The recommended amount is no more than 6 teaspoons for women and 9 teaspoons for men. In this article I will give you some tips on how to reduce sugar cravings.
What causes sugar cravings?
There are several things that may be causing you to crave sugar.
- Lack of sleep.
Sleep deprivation causes people to crave carbohydrates and sugar. A lack of sleep leads to low energy levels. This causes your body to desire junk food in an effort to quickly restore these levels.
- Not eating enough protein
Protein helps to regulate blood sugar levels and prevents sugar from being released to quickly into the bloodstream. It also increases a chemical called Leptin. This is a chemical that tells your brain that you are full.
- Calcium and magnesium deficiency
Studies have shown that low levels of calcium and magnesium will cause salt and sugar cravings. Eating sugar also lowers calcium and magnesium levels so it is a catch 22.
It may surprise you to learn that thirst is often mistaken for hunger. A lack of fluids prevents your body from changing stored glycogen in your liver into glucose for energy. This will cause a desire for sugary foods.
- Stress, boredom and emotional eating
Eating sweets to fill an emotional void is common. Consuming sugar causes a temporary high by increasing endorphins in the brain. Cookies, candy and ice cream are also often associated with pleasant childhood memories.
- Adrenal Fatigue
Adrenal exhaustion causes problems with cortisol production and the regulation of blood sugar. You can more about it here.
- Over growth of yeast (Candida)
This one is another vicious cycle. Consuming sugar increases the growth of yeast in your digestive tract. An overgrowth of yeast will cause you to crave sugar.
Signs that you are eating too much sugar.
There are several ways your body may be telling you that you are consuming too much sugar.
- You are constantly craving sugar
When your body gets used to a certain level of sugar it will continue to want the same level of sugar daily even though it has negative consequences for the body.
- Weight gain.
- Gaining weight isn’t always caused by eating excess carbohydrates. Sugar actually isn’t high in calories. It does cause your insulin levels to spike. Increased insulin levels often result in fat storage, especially around your mid section.
- Lacking energy
Sugar will quickly give you energy but you will crash and burn just as quickly. If you are sleeping well but still tired throughout the day sugar may to blame.
- Your skin keeps breaking out.
Excess sugar consumption can wreak havoc with your skin.
- Increased dental cavities.
You probably already know this but sugar contributes to tooth decay.
Hidden sources of sugar
Even if you don’t eat sweets there is a good chance that you consume a lot more sugar than you think you do. Reading labels before you buy “healthy” food is key to avoiding over consumption of sugar. There are lots of foods and drinks that contain hidden sugar such as frozen dinners, yogurt, granola, ketchup and BBQ sauce. Foods labeled as low or no fat are often high in sugar. When you are purchasing food from the store look for words such as dextrose, fructose, glucose. Anything ending in “ose” is a type of sugar. Corn syrup is also sugar. Finding foods that have no added sugars or choosing fruits as a source of sugar is the more reliable way to make sure you are not ingesting too much sugar.
Tips to reduce sugar cravings
- Avoid eating processed and packaged foods as much as possible.
- Drink 8-10 glasses of water per day.
- Get adequate sleep. Aim for 8-10 hours per night.
- Eat 15 -40 grams of protein per meal.
- Increase Serotonin naturally. This can be achieved by diet, exercise and adequate amounts of sleep.
- Read labels and keep sugar out of your kitchen as much as possible.
- Maintain a steady blood sugar throughout the day by eating regular meals.
- Avoid going out when you are hungry. Impulse eating often leads to poor food choices. Find alternative ways to manage stress.
- Don’t use food as a reward.
- Add dark leafy greens to your diet. They are high in calcium and magnesium.
- Substitute small amounts of fruit for candy and desserts.
- Consume fermented food and drinks daily.
Stopping dependency on sugar is easier said than done. You will experience some unpleasant symptoms such as headaches, bloating and fatigue when you detox from sugar. Keep in mind that the symptoms of sugar withdrawal are temporary and you will feel much better in the long run.
Are you addicted to sugar?
Do you have any tips for reducing sugar cravings?
Let me know in the comments below.