Beating Sugar Addiction For Dummies
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The reason diets don’t work is that they don’t lay out a realistic, sustainable plan that you can use to replace how you’ve been feeding yourself. Eating right doesn’t require completely eliminating any one type of food (even sugar!) or some “revolutionary” new system of nutrition that has just been uncovered by scientists from another planet and is now available to you for only five easy payments of $49.95.

Eating well and losing weight requires a series of small, ongoing decisions that replace what you used to do most of the time. Aristotle said, in a nutshell, that we are what we repeatedly do, and excellence is therefore not a trait but a habit.

When you change what you usually do — that is, what’s normal for you — you get different results. No temporary diet can create a new normal for you; you must create one yourself by making different decisions most of the time.

Simplifying the low-carb concept

Low-carb eating is all about controlling your insulin levels. Insulin is a hormone that causes your cells to take up the glucose (sugar) that goes into the blood when you digest carbohydrates. Eating too many carbohydrates (or the wrong kind of carbohydrates) forces your body to produce a lot of insulin.

Chronically high insulin levels cause conditions like metabolic syndrome, diabetes, high cholesterol, and polycystic ovarian syndrome. High insulin levels also promote fat storage and limit fat burning for energy. The primary way to keep your insulin levels low is to control your carbohydrate intake, both the type you choose and the amount you eat.

Carbohydrates are all broken down in your digestive system into simple sugars, but that doesn’t mean that all carbohydrates are bad. Carbohydrates that break down faster raise your blood sugar levels more than carbs with a slower breakdown and release, and when it comes to blood sugar, slower is better.

High blood sugar levels trigger a large insulin release, which causes fat storage and over time can cause diabetes and serious tissue damage.

To determine the effect that a particular carbohydrate has on your blood sugar, you can look up its glycemic load to see how much a serving of that kind of carbohydrate raises your blood sugar levels.

High-fiber carbohydrates (like vegetables) generally have a lower glycemic load and therefore raise your blood sugar levels less than sugar (like candy or soda) or starchy carbs (like bread or pasta). Choosing vegetables over sugar or grains is a good way to start controlling your blood sugar levels, and adding protein and fat to the mix drastically slows the rise of blood sugar from the carbs in that meal.

Improving your eating with five easy habits

Here are some tips to get you started on a healthier nutrition system:

  • Eating a high-protein breakfast stimulates your metabolism, stabilizes your blood sugar, and keeps your energy levels high throughout the morning. An all-carb continental breakfast promotes fat storage and puts you on the blood sugar roller coaster for the rest of the day.

  • Vegetables should make up the majority of your carbohydrate intake. Vegetables are low in calories and high in vitamins, minerals, fiber, and phytonutrients, so they make the ideal carbohydrate choice. Fruits are high in nutrients, but they also contain more sugar, so be judicious in your portions.

  • Try to eat a protein source every time you eat. Protein is essential for rebuilding muscles and organs and for making immune system cells, hormones, enzymes, and a host of other necessary components of a healthy physiology.

    Eating protein with carbohydrates slows down the release of sugar into the bloodstream, so getting enough protein is important for blood sugar control too. Protein helps keep your appetite at bay longer than carbohydrates do.

  • Drinking enough water is important to keep all your body’s tissues healthy, including your brain. Being dehydrated decreases your mental and physical functions and triggers your hypothalamus to turn on the hunger and thirst centers in your brain, increasing appetite and cravings. A general guideline is to aim to drink a minimum of 64 ounces of water every day.

  • Using the right nutrition supplements is a good way to ensure that you supply your body with optimum nutrition. Nutrition deficiencies can cause food cravings and contribute to a host of degenerative diseases like arthritis, heart disease, and cancer.

Change your thinking, change your life

Overcoming your sugar addiction requires different behaviors and new ways of thinking. You need to not only improve your nutrition plan but also train yourself to make proactive, conscious decisions instead of acting reactively to stress.

Learning to be mindful and intentional instead of being reactive is a crucial component of controlling your eating and managing the stress in your life. Your diet starts with your brain, not with your mouth, so begin changing your life by changing your thinking.

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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