Beating Sugar Addiction For Dummies
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Sugar is everywhere, and resisting the urge to overindulge isn’t always easy. Stress, poor nutrition, dehydration, and lack of sleep can all drive you to grab whatever sugar-laden junk food is handy. Healthy habits and lifestyle changes can help minimize both the number and the intensity of any sugar cravings you may experience.

Reduce sugar cravings with small snacks

Low blood sugar can fire up cravings for high-sugar food. When blood sugar plummets, your energy drops and your brain has trouble focusing, making turning to sugar for a quick pick-me-up easy. Eating every three or four hours throughout the day helps keep your blood sugar levels more even and the sugar cravings at bay. You also won’t be as hungry at night, which makes resisting late-night sweet fixes easier.

Every time you eat, try to combine a protein and a plant.

Drink enough water throughout the day to beat sugar cravings

Even a small amount of dehydration can trigger the hypothalamus to activate the hunger and thirst centers. Drinking enough water — at least 64 ounces a day — is one of the easiest ways to keep sugar cravings in check. Doing so also cuts down on your desire for other, less healthy beverages.

Downing a glass of cold water is one of the first things you should do when a sugar craving strikes.

Take your vitamins and be sugar free

A deficiency of one or more important vitamins or minerals can cause your brain to turn on the craving center in an attempt to take in more nutrients. A smart nutrition supplementation program ensures that you have all the vital nutrients you need to stay healthy, vibrant, and sugar-free.

Reduce sugar with mindful eating

To stay on track with a sensible nutrition plan, and to avoid eating according to unconscious cues and temptations, you must remain mindful about when you eat, what you choose, and how much you consume. Before you begin eating, set out your portion so you’re not eating from bags or serving dishes.

Chew thoroughly, and pay careful attention to the whole experience of eating. What does your food really taste like? In between every bite, assess whether you’ve had enough to eat so that you’re not using external cues like an empty plate to tell you when it’s time to stop.

Consider learning some basic meditation techniques to help you stay more centered and make mindful eating second nature.

Eat lots of vegetables every day to reduce sugar intake

Most of your carbohydrates should come from vegetables. Though whole grains contain some quality nutrients, they’re also higher in calories and typically have a higher glycemic load than vegetables. Fibrous vegetables like broccoli, squash, and greens are low in calories and high in nutrients and fiber, so they should make up the bulk of your carbohydrate intake.

Regularly try to eat a wide spectrum of vegetables and fruits of various colors.

Beat sugar with exercise

Regular exercise unquestionably helps you lose weight, improves your insulin sensitivity, and increases your metabolism. It can also help you look and feel great and give you something to do besides eat. If you’re not comfortable at a gym, you can start doing some workouts at home or begin a modest walking program four or five days per week.

Choose a positive substitute behavior when a sugar craving strikes

Whenever a sugar craving strikes, making a conscious decision to do something other than eat sugar is a healthy and empowering alternative. Positive activities like exercising, learning, creating something new, connecting with friends, and helping other people give you an alternative activity to gobbling down the sweet stuff and add more love and enjoyment to a world that desperately needs it.

Avoid boredom and avoid sugar cravings

Some people eat when they’re bored, but mindless or reactive eating is never a good idea, especially if the convenient snacks lying around are the high-sugar or high-carb type. If your brain is craving some stimulation, give it something better to do than catatonic chewing!

Keep your mind active with crossword or Sudoku puzzles, reading, creative writing, or other brain-nourishing tasks. Getting up and doing something also helps — take a walk or practice a musical instrument to replace mindless eating.

If you’re the type who gets bored easily, make a “go to” list of brain-stimulating activities that you enjoy and can consult the next time a craving strikes.

Get enough sleep to beat sugar cravings

Lack of sleep has been proven to contribute to increases in both body fat and appetite. Sleep deprivation also impairs problem solving, alertness, concentration, reasoning, and attention. When you don’t sleep well, you feel tired and crave sugar to artificially generate energy. Try to get at least seven hours of solid sleep each night.

Consider a melatonin supplement before bed (melatonin is a hormone that helps regulate sleep patterns and looks like it may offer protection against cancer), or try a cup of valerian or chamomile tea.

Know your triggers to avoid sugar

It’s easy to fall into the trap of reactive behavior, including making poor food choices when you feel stressed. Much of the anxiety and stress people experience is caused purely by the stories they make up about what’s happening or what they’re afraid will happen. Being aware of the truth of the present situation is crucial to maintaining healthy eating habits and a healthy overall emotional state.

The key to overcoming stress eating is to become very clear about what you really want. When you experience an emotional trigger, force yourself to do a quick reality check to determine what you really need. For example, if you feel stressed and overwhelmed, what you really want is peacefulness and personal power, not sugar.

The simple steps to stop stress eating are as follows:

  1. Recognize when you’ve been triggered.

  2. Stop and figure out what you really need.

  3. Make a conscious — not reactive — decision.

About This Article

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About the book author:

Dan DeFigio is one of the most respected names in the fitness and nutrition industry. His articles have appeared in numerous professional journals, and his workshops have been presented in many cities across the United States. He has appeared on the Dr. Phil show and was featured in SELF Magazine, MD News, Personal Fitness Professional, and a host of other publications.

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