Apart from alcohol and drugs, the next biggest addiction in the Western World is “sugar”. Refined sugar is a very powerful stimulant, which has a drug-like effect on the body, so people can develop a dependency on it.
What are sugars?
Sugars belong to one of the major nutrient groups, called carbohydrates. This food group includes: fruit, vegetables, grains (cereals, breads, pasta, rice, oats, wheat, corn, rye, millet, flour-based products), wine, spirits, chocolate, honey & other sweeteners … etc. When eaten, they break down into glucose or fructose. A sugar craving can include a craving for sweet carbs (eg. chocolate, sweet biscuits, desserts) or savoury carbs (eg. bread, crackers, potato chips, hot chips).
Simple & Complex Carbohydrates
Simple, refined carbs are digested & absorbed more quickly because of their lower fibre content. This provides a quick energy boost, but can leave the person feeling flat and fatigued after it wears off. Often this energy deficit pushes the person to look for another ‘hit’ of sugar to provide yet another energy boost to help them through the day.
Complex carbohydrates breakdown more slowly and provide longer lasting energy and help to stabilise blood sugar levels, leaving the person more satisfied for longer. Sugar cravings are a thing of the past.
Our bodies are equipped to handle excesses of sugar for a short time only. When we consume large quantities of simple, refined sugars, the pancreas & liver are stressed and we suffer a ‘stress response’. Adrenalin is released during this ‘fight or flight’ response, causing an increase in insulin production (a fat-storing hormone) and thus initiating the laying-down of body fat. This would have benefited our ancestors who lived through periods of food scarcity, but for us it is dangerous as we never suffer the food shortage and therefore get to burn off our fat stores.
Switch off your sugar cravings!
Try the following:
- Reduce stress levels significantly (by incorporating exercise, relaxation, yoga breathing, meditation, soothing music …)
- Replace refined sugars with good quality proteins throughout the day with 1-2 serves of complex carbs (eg. oats, low GI rice, lentils, wholegrain bread).
- Eat smaller meals with 1-2 snacks per day, so that you maintain a top up of protein at every opportunity. This stabilises blood sugar levels and can substantially reduce cravings within 1 week.