In a world that has been bombarded with a barrage of sugary and processed food, it may seem as if our brains have become hard wired to crave refined sugar over the alternatively more healthy foods. Walk into any supermarket and you will find aisle after aisle of bright, shiny packages claiming to satisfy hunger and tantalize your taste buds. From cafeterias and classrooms to office break rooms and hospital vending machines, it seems there isn’t anywhere that is safe from these sweet and soluble little carbohydrates.
Like a drug, when you consume sugar, it stimulates the release of dopamine in your brain which causes you to feel pleasure. The problem is that just a little bit of sugar will not satisfy you and you’ll find yourself craving more and more.
Even though the aftershocks of excessive sugar consumption can be brutal, the craving is so strong that it isn’t long before you find yourself consuming it once again. While it may at times seem impossible to overcome, you can in fact kick your sugar addiction to the curb by adopting a few simple tricks.
Learn to Love Fruit
Isn’t it funny how often when we crave something sweet, we head for the pantry or freezer when there are usually healthier options on the counter right in front of us? A bowl of oranges and apples on the table, bananas lying in a bunch on the counter - fruit often gets overlooked for a higher calorie and more sugary alternative. It shouldn’t! Fruit is the earth’s natural dessert, a gift of sweetness straight from nature. While processed sweets fill you with empty calories, nature’s goods offer loads of nutrition with each bite.
In a quest to weed out unhealthy sugar sources from your diet, make a conscious effort to keep fruit on hand and easily accessible. Keep containers of fresh fruit such as blueberries and strawberries in your refrigerator so they are already washed and easy to grab. Have fun experimenting with different kinds of smoothies using your favorite fruits for one, and some fruits you’ve never tried in another. The best part about consuming fruit is that you not only satisfy your sweet tooth, you feel good afterwards.
Add Chromium to Your Diet
Chromium is a mineral that almost 90% of Americans are deficient in, which is a shame because for sugar addicts especially, it is very significant. Chromium plays a crucial role in preventing blood sugar swings by regulating insulin and blood glucose levels. The mineral also helps the body maintain efficient energy production, helping put the calories you are consuming to good use.
One study performed with 42 overweight women found that supplementing with Chromium led to reduced hunger levels, food intake and fat cravings which led to significant weight loss. In addition to preventing sugar surges, Chromium also aids in the building of muscle, helps normalize cholesterol levels and promotes the burning of unnecessary body fat.
Now that is something you can feel good about putting into your body! To add Chromium to your daily routine, you can take 200 mg a day in capsule form at the start of any meal. Many shakes on the health food market these days incorporate the valuable mineral into their ingredients as well.
Clean Out Your Pantry
Whether it’s the middle of the day or late at night, you can’t feed a sugar craving with unhealthy food if you don’t have it on hand. One of the most important steps to cutting out sugar is by getting it out of your house, car, office and any place where it may be lurking ready to tempt you during a weak moment.
Take a box and load it with every source of refined sugar you can find, whether it be Oreos in the cupboard or candy bars in your snack drawer. Whether you decide to throw it away or donate it to a food pantry is up to you, but you must get it out of your house!
Plan Ahead and Shop Smart
One of the biggest grocery shopping mistakes is to tackle your list when you are hungry. Always make sure your trip to the supermarket is after you’ve had a good, filling meal. That way, you won’t be tempted to put unwanted and unnecessary items in your shopping cart. By planning your meals ahead of time, you can use your detailed list to guide you through the store and “just say no” to all of the temptations lurking in the aisles. A rule of thumb for smart grocery shopping is to stick to the perimeter of the store.
You should be filling your cart with food items from the produce, meat and even frozen section (frozen vegetables and fruits are easy and nutritious) which are usually along the border of the store. Avoid the aisles in between which boast packaged, processed food full of empty carbohydrates and excess sugar.
Diabetes, cancer, autoimmune diseases, and weight gain are just a few of the negative side effects of consuming too much refined sugar. Doctors are now linking psychological disorders directly to the intake of a diet too rich in sugar as well. While the growing epidemic of excessive sugar consumption in the United States is alarming and disheartening, the good news is that it is an easy fix!
With a little bit of planning, a lot of effort, and a good dose of willpower, you will find that overcoming your sugar addiction is totally doable. All you need to do is commit to saying goodbye to refined sugar and embrace the nutrients that nature so readily provides. You will curb your cravings, lose weight and feel great in no time!