How to Quit Your Sugar Addiction?Luke Coutinho
Today we are going to talk about sugar addiction and how to quit it. The reason behind choosing this topic is that today, in my consultation, one of the clients mentioned that she craves sweets every time she is in a stressful situation, and it has become a vicious cycle that makes her feel guilty.
Before we begin, let’s start by understanding what sugar addiction is. It is an emotional or psychological dependence on sugar or sugary foods to feel better. Eating sugar releases opioids and dopamine in our bodies. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that plays a crucial part in the reward circuit associated with addictive behavior. When a specific behavior causes an excess release of dopamine, you feel a pleasurable high, which makes you more inclined to re-experience the same. So you repeat the behavior, again and again, thereby further strengthening the circuit.
Sugar fuels every cell in the brain. Your brain also sees sugar as a reward, which makes you keep wanting more of it. If you often eat a lot of sugar, you are reinforcing that reward. It can make it challenging for you to break the habit, but not impossible!
How to identify sugar in foods?
Sugar is found in many forms. When you read a food label next, please spend some time flipping the cover and reading its label. You’ll notice that there are two columns, namely, free sugars and added sugars. Free sugars include both — the sugars naturally found in honey and fruit juice, and sugar present in food and drinks, whereas added sugars include words such as glucose, corn syrup, brown sugar, dextrose, maltose, and sucrose, to name a few. These added sugars are mentioned in the ingredient list column of the product.
A few foods with sugar include energy drinks, alcoholic drinks, soda, fruit drinks, and sweetened coffee and teas. Other familiar sources are snacks. These don’t just have to be obvious, like brownies, cookies, doughnuts, and ice cream. You can also find them in large quantities in products like bread, salad dressing, granola bars, and even fat-free yogurt. Hence, it is important to be mindful of the advertising gimmicks. Fat-free doesn’t mean sugar-free, and even sugar-free doesn’t mean sugar-free. It means that although it may not have sugar, it does have artificial sweeteners, which are as harmful as sugar, if not more.
Side effects of sugar addiction –
Chronic sugar addiction can lead to many ill–effects on your health, such as acidity, inflammation, bloating, gas, brain fog, extreme energy crash, and irritability. Other effects may include mood swings, neuronal excitability, dysbiosis, rapid skin aging, acne and breakouts, pigmentation of the skin, allergy, rashes, and hormonal imbalance. If not addressed the right way and with the right changes in your lifestyle, like in this case — cutting down on sugar consumption, can pave a path for diseases later on. So, understand your body’s signals and when it’s trying to ask you to take it easy on the sugar. What is just a sign today, can turn out to be an alarm tomorrow.
Ways to quit sugar cravings –
- Check for candida overgrowth
Candida is a yeast that consumes the sugar we provide it with and then demands more and more and more — making us crave more and more sugar. This creates a vicious cycle of craving sugar, then eating sugar which feeds the yeast and causes it to grow (even thrive), leading to more sugar cravings. The only way to stop this vicious cycle is to cut the supply of sugar! Cut out what feeds this yeast in the first place. It is essential to understand that having an overgrowth of Candida in your body can be one of the most common reasons behind those inexplicable sugar cravings. No matter how much willpower you put into your practice, you will fail if you have not addressed the root cause. A few symptoms of Candida are oral thrush, digestive issues, recurrent urine infections, fatigue, and sinus infections, among others.
To learn more about Candida, click here.
- Practice intermittent fasting
We have so many of our clients following circadian rhythm fasting right now, and the result they have seen with fasting is nothing short of a miracle. During fasting, ghrelin decreases, and leptin increases. Ghrelin is the hunger hormone that tells you when you are hungry; leptin is the satiety hormone that tells you when you are full.
- Retrain your taste buds
Many times we reach out for sweets because we are too addicted to their taste. You must have heard that many people crave something sweet after a meal. This is because we are too used to it. Similarly, to overcome addictions, we need to train our taste buds to enjoy less sweet things. When you get used to eating fewer super-sweet things, you crave them less.
- Out of sight, out of mind
You must have heard this before and trust me, this works wonders to get rid of sugar cravings. Don’t tempt yourself by stocking candy, cookies, and other high-sugar foods in your cupboards and fridge.
- Watch out for your refined carbohydrate intake
Simple carbohydrates enter the bloodstream fast, which quickly raises blood sugar levels, and subsequently raises insulin levels. Without fiber, protein, and fats in your food, simple carbohydrates alone will leave you neither full nor satisfied, and soon you’ll be wanting more. Choose the right carbs — complex carbohydrates for fiber, include good fats and quality protein in your meal. A few examples of simple carbohydrates include refined flour, candy, table sugar, soft drinks, and so on. Examples of complex carbohydrates are nuts, seeds, beans, legumes, and whole grains, among others.
- Understand the difference between physical hunger and emotional hunger
We don’t always eat to satisfy hunger. Many of us also turn to food to relieve stress or cope with unpleasant emotions such as sadness, loneliness, anxiety, or boredom. Occasionally using food as a reward or a pick-me-up isn’t necessarily a bad thing. But, when eating becomes the primary coping mechanism, you get stuck in an unhealthy cycle where the natural feeling or problem is never addressed. Emotional hunger can’t be filled with food. Eating may feel good at the moment, but the feelings that triggered the eating are still there. Hence, we must always work on addressing the root cause by practicing mindfulness.
- Get quality sleep
Lack of sleep causes hormone shifts. Ghrelin, the hunger-control hormone, increases, causing you to eat more. Additionally, we experience low energy levels throughout the day, which makes us crave sugary foods, whereas all our body needs is adequate sleep.
- Work it out
A good workout helps release happy hormones such as serotonin, thereby helping us deal with addiction and keeping us occupied.
- Check for mineral deficiencies
When we resort to fad diets, it causes mineral deficiencies in the body. When dieting, cravings for foods like sugary products, chips or namkeens, can cause you to abandon the diet altogether and go back to binge-eating. Important minerals include zinc, magnesium, chromium, and calcium. Sometimes we may also confuse fatigue caused by iron deficiency with a sugar craving.
- Sniff or diffuse essential oils
A few essential oils that help with sugar addictions are peppermint and dill by stimulating the brain’s satiety hormone, fennel and cinnamon by suppressing appetite, and lavender and lemongrass by improving stress levels.
- Take up challenges
Participating in a weekly or bi-weekly sugar-free challenge with your family and friends can motivate you to stay on track together.
Sugar substitutes and recipes to try
We don’t have to give up sweetness. We must try to choose natural sugar alternatives such as honey, jaggery, coconut sugar, and stevia. The next time you are craving sugar, try these recipes from our blog designed especially for your sweet tooth. Do remember to enjoy it in moderation, because anything in excess is bad.
- Sweet potato halwa
- Ragi chocolate sheera
- Makhana kheer
- Raw cacao energy balls
- Sesame edible gum ladoo
- Breakfast oats groat
- Chocolate quinoa raw banana brownie
- Besan ladoo
- Healthy falooda
- Raw banana flour pancakes
YouCare Is All About YOU
You cannot pour from an empty cup. So build YOU first before nourishing the world. You Care is all about YOU. - Luke Coutinho
We are a team/ecosystem of highly-trained registered clinical dietitians, certified nutritionists, experienced life coaches, yoga experts, emotional counselors, skilled allopathic medical practitioners, and homeopathy doctors who adopt a 360-degree approach and combine medicine and lifestyle to transform lives. We work on holistic prevention care and recovery by emphasizing the four pillars of health — Balanced Nutrition, Adequate Exercise, Quality Sleep, and Emotional Detox.
We, humans, are products of nature. So, we thrive best when we operate within the laws and boundaries of nature. This includes the way we eat, move, sleep, think, our spiritual outlook, all of which can vary from individual to individual.
We believe in addressing the root cause and bio-individuality which respects you as a unique individual. Recovery begins when we respect medicine and focus beyond it too. We help you create the right external and internal environment that enables the intelligence of your body to kick in and contribute to prevention, recovery, and healing.
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