Sugar Consumption and Addiction: Break the Cycle

In a previous article, I discussed how refined sugar can wreak havoc on our health and wellness goals in multiple ways through its addictive qualities, empty calories and detrimental effects on the immune system and other body systems.  Sometimes it seems impossible to break the cycle of sugar addiction, and it keeps us from attaining better health.  Outlined below are a few simple ways that I have found work for me (and several others) to control sugar cravings in a healthy way.  From a metabolic, biological perspective, they just make sense.

Pick Your Sugar Wisely

This is a debatable point in many health circles today, but it has to do with the use of more “natural” sweeteners instead of the simple white table sugar and corn syrups we are used to. “Natural” sugars and sweeteners may include maple syrup, honey, stevia extract, and brown rice syrup. Many of these sweeteners have the same effect on blood sugar as table sugar does, however, because it is typically less processed it maintains many of the natural plant compounds and provides some nutrients for its calories.  Most health experts would not consider this as justification to go overboard on natural sweetening agents, but if you’re going to make a dessert, it’s not a bad idea to use a sweetener that still has a few powerful nutrients in it.

Alternatively, many of us fall too easily for “sugar-free” foods sweetened with zero-calorie, chemical agents such as aspartame and sucralose. Diabetics may choose to use these products to maintain their blood glucose levels while still indulging their sweet tooth.  But these sweeteners have several possible side effects, and while more study is needed, it’s likely that they may contribute to diseases such as cancer when consumed at high levels. While foods made with artificial sweeteners may contribute fewer calories, most of us will just eat multiple servings of the food, and the sugar cravings continue in most cases.

Remain Whole

Choose whole grains over white flour. Get familiar with ingredient labels and look for the word “whole” before flours and grains of any kind, be it rice, wheat or any other grain. White flours are fast-absorbing like their sugary counterparts because they lack the naturally occurring fiber and nutrients found in whole grains. Whole grains are more slowly digested so that they provide more stable energy, meaning you won’t have to deal with the highs and lows experienced with refined carbohydrate consumption.

Eat More

Does it sound too good to be true?  It just might be.  However, I’m not speaking of portion sizes, but rather the frequency of meals and snacks. Spacing smaller meals and snacks out throughout the day can help to stabilize blood sugar, making you less likely to crave excess carbohydrates after going 6 or more hours without eating. Just choose wholesome foods as snacks. You can see a previous article of mine here about healthy snacking for a busy schedule.

Reducing refined sugars and carbohydrates in the diet can be an extremely difficult thing to do, especially depending where you are right now in your pursuit of health and well-being. Regardless of how difficult it may be though, it is surprising how happy life can be with less sugar. It will be worth it to have stable energy all through the day, fewer cravings, and the ability to keep off excess weight as warmer weather approaches.