By Lauren Denos: 11/10/2014 (Nutrition)

Over indulgence in sugar is one of the most common issues we see in our modern society. We have such a long list of reasons and excuses to indulge: it was a birthday party, I deserved it, I couldn’t resist it, etc. Our society is becoming more and more indulgent with sugar, and it looks to only increase. If you have noticed this trend in yourself as well and want to stop it, then we can shed a little light and give you some tricks to use.

Sugar is a fast rush of energy. It brings you up fast and drops you fast. It is not only a source of energy, but a substance that encourages your brain to release dopamine and opioids into your body, which makes you feel good and happy. Essentially you are getting high. There are many systems that get used during this process and because of this response to the sugar when you continue to use stimulants like sugar you could end up with adrenal fatigue, insulin resistance and obesity among others. When it is adrenal issues, your energy will just keep going downhill. You will need more and more coffee and sugar to keep yourself moving, but what you are really doing is making matters worse. Eventually, you crash and burn. You may start to notice this after you have been doing caffeine for a while and it does not give you quite the boost that it used to. These are the first signs the effects are starting to show.

Many understand that the overabundance of sugar is terrible and would like to kick it out of their diet. This is a great idea. Before you get started here are some tips and other issues to keep in mind.

  1. Understand you can go through mood swings or depression when you are getting off the sugar. Your brain is accustomed to reacting to a certain amount of sugar. When it does not get to the usual level it can go through withdrawals, causing a range of issues including depression. This makes sense as depression is one of the triggers that makes people want sugar. It is a self-medicating thing. If you are aware of this and plan for these difficult stages, then you will be able to make it through.
  2. Understand that if you are low on energy either from lack of sleep or a poor diet, this can increase your sugar cravings since sugar is a fast acting fuel for the body. The problem is that sugar gives you a fast boost, and then a fast drop as well. This is why we do not want to be using sugar. Instead you would be better off having a complex-carbohydrate that will offer a slower, steadier fuel source for your body.
  3. Make sure you do not have something like insulin resistance or other blood sugar problems. When you are insulin resistant, your body’s insulin is not working the way it should. Insulin is what helps your body to absorb the energy it needs especially from carbohydrates and sugars. So when your body’s insulin is not working, you are not getting the fuel you need which can trigger your body to ask for more sugar. It starts a never ending cycle.
  4. Do not let yourself get hungry. When you let yourself get hungry you will crave the fastest fuel source you can get your hands on, aka sugar. In order to deal with this more effectively, make sure you are eating at least your main 3 meals a day and keep snacks on you at all times. That, or eat mini meals throughout the day.
  5. Make sure you are not lacking specific nutrients. Sometimes you will continue to crave more and more junk foods because you are not getting the nutrients your body needs. When this happens, your body is going to keep signaling you that it is hungry. Sure, you are giving it plenty of calories, but empty one. Make sure you eat balanced meals. Have some protein, healthy fat, complex-carbohydrates, and lots of vegetables. There are also supplements that you may need to take to balance out something in your body. Talk to your doctor to see if everything is good and in order.
  6. Know your triggers. Whether it could be a food, a mood, an activity, we all have certain ones. You need to know these and figure out how to get around them. For example, whenever you have a cup of coffee, you usually need a Danish to go with it. Just like in that children’s book, If You Give a Mouse a Cookie. Same idea here. To solve this, you could do something as simple as switching to tea or going to a different coffee shop. Better yet, making your coffee at home. Another instance is when you’re depressed and reaching for the ice cream. Instead of that, freeze some grapes and make a new habit with that. Or, even better, go on a walk to clear your head. Anything to keep you off the couch and away from that ice cream.
  7. Replace it with something else. Going cold turkey with sweets can be very difficult for people, and most who do it can stick with it for a week or two or even a few months. Yet, the minute they go to a friend’s birthday party and give into the first piece of cake, it is back to the cravings. A more commonly successful way people have kicked the sugar habit is by replacing it. Some like Stevia or coconut sugar. Does this mean you should go crazy and eat nothing but sweets with this other sweetener? No. But when you have the option to make some other desserts, or other favorite foods it will feel less like a punishment.
  8. Distract yourself. Boredom can be a big factor with eating junk foods. We want something to entertain us and since eating sugar gives us a high like we talked about above, it can be a "quick fix" to that bored feeling. When cravings come up, if at all possible, go on a walk or talk to a friend. Do something – anything – that will take your mind off food is great.
  9. Create a conducive environment. Keep only good stuff in your kitchen. If it something you would rather avoid then keep it away. Do not rely on amazing willpower to keep you only eating a little bit of it here and there. Willpower is good and all, but it makes it a lot easier when you do not have to even use it because there is nothing in your house to tempt you.
  10. Plan your meals. Planning makes the difference between make and break when changing any health habit. If you do not plan and do not know what you are going to eat for lunch, or you are carrying no snacks, then it is really easy to accept that candy your friend is handing you. Plan and prepare it is one of the single most important things you can do to change your health.
  11. Find other ways to treat yourself and celebrate. Many people give themselves sugar because they are "treating themselves good." When you really look at it, eating crap is not treating yourself good. Rather, it is treating your body like a garbage can. You are worth more than that. If you want to treat yourself then get a massage, go do something fun that you like. If you absolutely have to treat yourself with food then create a healthy version of a sweet treat instead.

These tips will help you kick the sugar habit. Do what works for you as well. You may think of something that will help you that is not on this list. There is no right or wrong as long as it works for you. It can be challenging at first, but the natural energy and clear brain that comes with getting the sugar out of your diet is well worth the work.



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