Love sugar? Do you have a sweet tooth?
Don’t brush it aside because this might be a deeper problem.
Sugar addiction is a very real thing but most people don’t realize they have it. Neither do they understand the damage it wrecks on their bodies.
I. Signs you may have a sugar habit
- Often have spontaneous and intense cravings for something sweet.
- Do you insist on having your daily fix of Coke, soda, or other sugary drinks?
- Trouble saying no to desserts.
- You go out of your way to satisfy your sweet tooth.
- You have a stash of sugary foods, and you binge on them when you’re alone.
- Constantly feel irritable or uncomfortable when you don’t get to eat sweet foods.
If you have said yes to some or all of the questions above, then you most likely struggle with an addiction.
II. The science behind sugar addiction
Most people understand that sugar is bad for them but they cannot stop themselves from reaching out and eating large quantities of it.
Scientists have discovered that sugar literally triggers brain pathway activities in the same way that cocaine and heroine does. Eating it triggers dopamine secretion in the reward center of the brain. A diet with excess sugar will flood the brain with reward signals, which, over time, will override self-control and lead to addiction.
In short, the more sugar you eat, the more you will WANT to eat.
And when you do try to stop, you experience withdrawal symptoms in the same (albeit less intense) ways a drug addict does.
There is also a metabolic component to sugar addiction. When we reach out for that delicious chocolate bar, what happens is a crazy spike in glucose levels in the bloodstream. Subsequently, it produces a pleasant “high”. The body then has to release insulin to strive to bring blood sugar levels back to normal. A “crash” results, causing irritability and cravings for more sugar. Unfortunately, the cycle goes on and on, making it difficult to stop.
III. Why is sugar harmful?
1. Syndrome X
Excessive consumption of sugar is linked to insulin resistance, also called “metabolic syndrome” or “syndrome X”. When this happens, body cells become immune to the effect of insulin, and glucose levels in the blood build up. Insulin resistant individuals stand at a high risk for metabolic diseases such as obesity, diabetes, high cholesterol, hypertension.. even cancer. Skipping out on that candy bar is a much lower price to pay than having to deal with painful and chronic disease later on.
IV. Recognize and eliminate the sneaky culprit
The nature of today’s food industry is that sugar hides in the most unexpected of places. In brief, it is our responsibility as consumers to be educated and to make wise choices. It might be impossible to cut out sugar completely from our diet, but it is possible to make smarter and healthier choices.
Besides the obvious suspects such as candy, ice cream and cake, here are some surprising high-sugar culprits:
1. Fruit Juice
Yes, that’s right! Fruit juice! Many people think that fruit juice is healthy, but it really depends on how it is made. The boxed/bottled juices that line supermarket aisles are extremely high in fructose, even those labeled “No Sugar Added”. The main problem is this – these fruit juices contain a whole lot of sugar but with no fiber. It doesn’t matter if the sugar you drink comes from fizzy drinks, Boost smoothies or fruit juice. Sugar is still sugar.
A 250ml serving of common fruit juice contains just as much sugar as 4 Krispy Kreme donuts. 1
You are far better off eating whole fruits. The fiber slows down sugar absorption, and it is quite impossible to overeat because fruit is very filling.
Try our Apple Cinnamon tea to curb sugar cravings too! They taste delicious, and are completely natural without added sugars.
3. Refined Carbs
4. Dressings and Sauces
Most mass-produced sauces and dressings often contain high levels of sugar, in the form of high fructose corn syrup. Teriyaki sauce and barbeque sauce has an average of 10 g and 9 g per 2 tbps respectively.
Pure herbs and spices. McCormick and MagicTime sell these in convenient little bottles. Use them to dress your salads or meats instead.
V. Other helpful tips
Having someone to be accountable to makes a whole world of difference.
“I’m so tired today.”
“Who needs exercise when I can have extra fries.”
Left on our own, we may never have dragged our lazy bum off the couch.
Find an exercise partner. Get your mom to nag at you. Find a workout partner. Immerse yourself in fitness communities. Sign up for group classes. Pay for a gym membership. Being healthy is a journey and you’re better off when you have like-minded people to do it with.
– Try dark chocolate as a small treat! It is a fantastic way to get a dose of antioxidants without overloading your body with sugar. Make sure you get 70% and above, and don’t overeat.
– At the mamak, ask for “kurang manis” or “kosong”.
Cutting out sugar is one of the best things you can do for your health. It gets easier when you understand what you are doing and why. The more control you have over your sugar cravings, the more control you have over your life and the quality of your body.
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