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  • Writer's pictureDarrick Payne

Sugar - Break the Addiction

Are you a sugar addict? If so, there is no better time than now to stop. Sugar is so prevalent in our western diet that we don't necessarily even know all of the insidious places it can be found. Some places are obvious, such as sweets and sodas. Most sodas and a lot of fruit drinks can have up to 3/4 of a teaspoon per ounce. That means one 12 ounce can of soda can hold 9 teaspoons of sugar! To put that in perspective, the American Heart Association recommends only 100 calories from sugar for women and 150 calories for men, which is roughly equivalent to 6 to 9 teaspoons. So one soda gives women more than the recommended daily amount and delivers the max for men. And that is from consuming just one item! For some other examples, flavored yogurts can have 7 teaspoons of sugar, a half-cup of some spaghetti sauces may have upwards of 2 teaspoons, a small candy bar might have 7 to 8 teaspoons, children's breakfast cereals can have a few teaspoons per bowl, and even something like half a cup of coleslaw can have over 2 teaspoons. Obviously this shows that most people in a typical American diet are going to get much much more sugar in their diet than they expect, and way more than is healthy. If you do have a so-called sweet tooth, it is not something to take lightly. We all know that excessive sugar intake can lead to obvious things like wight gain and tooth decay, but it appears to have a much more detrimental impact than just that. A wide variety of studies have indicated potential increased risks for chronic inflammation, heart disease, high blood pressure, liver disease/failure, kidney disease, diabetes, certain types of cancer, osteoporosis/bone loss, anxiety, depression, migraine headaches, and mental/cognitive issues. The trouble with the sugar habit is that these cravings can be as intense as those for nicotine, alcohol, and other addictive drugs, as sugar stimulates the same parts of the brain. That is what it makes it so difficult to quit. It is often extremely hard to quit cold-turkey, just as it is hard to do the same with those other drugs. That approach tends not to work as it is too sudden and drastic of a change for your body to handle and accept. Instead, the better way is to take a more slow and methodical approach. Begin with how you buy foods at the grocery store. Check the ingredients and the nutrition label. If sugar is one of the first 3 or 4 ingredients listed, choose something else (as ingredients are listed in their order of content amount). Sugar may also be listed as fructose, high-fructose corn syrup, glucose, dextrose, maltose, honey, molasses, etc. In order to estimate the number of teaspoons per serving, take the number of grams and divide by four. The biggest goal is to cut back on food products that have any added sugar. And remember, foods with white flour (found in pastas, breads, cereals, etc.) should be avoided, as this product is readily converted to sugar in the body. Along this same line, try to avoid the high-glycemic foods in general, which includes white rice, starchy vegetables, and white bread. These foods lead to spikes in our blood sugar levels and can also elicit those same food cravings. Instead, look for low-glycemic options such as legumes, nuts, non-starchy vegetables, whole grains, oats, bran, barley, and eggs. For more information, check out glycemicindex.com. If you need a sweetener, switch to stevia. This is a plant based sweetener that has no calories and more importantly does not cause the harmful insulin spikes that occur with sugar consumption. It is many-fold times sweeter than sugar, so only a small amount is needed at any given time. Over time, your taste buds adjust to a low-sugar diet and you no longer have the cravings. And sometimes the taste of sugar can eventually become too sweet so that you don't even really like it any more. That's when you really know you've kicked the habit!

Originally posted 19th April 2016


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