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Sweet Addiction:
How to Fight Sugar Cravings

Sugar Addiction

I've never seen a sugar addict in an alley, selling their belongings to get a fructose fix. There isn't a "safe sweets" program teaching kids about all the diseases caused by corn syrup. You'll probably never hear, "Hey buddy, can you spare some change so I can get sprinkles on my ice cream?"

Maybe if people saw some of those things, they would realize just how serious a sugar addiction can be, and why it's such a tough habit to break. It seems like no matter where we go, we're surrounded by temptations. The reason is simple. Sugar tastes good, it's cheap and it temporarily boosts both our mood and energy levels.

The negative side effects are routinely ignored. It's unlikely to kill you if you overdose, so we think it's safe. But the long-term effects include anxiety, depression, diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, irritable bowel syndrome, memory problems and obesity.

When you're ready to break free, here are some things you can do to fight a sugar addiction.

Keep sugar or sugar-loaded products out of your house. Those treats you buy will disappear the moment your willpower is down. If they're not around you're much less likely to be tempted.

Eat regular meals and snacks throughout the day. When you don't eat, your blood sugar drops and cravings start. That's when sugary foods have their greatest allure. Eat something every 2-4 hours and you're more likely to keep binge behavior under control.

Combine higher carbohydrate foods with fats and protein. They'll slow down the absorption of sugar and help level your cravings out. If you have an apple, add some peanut butter. Choose whole wheat pasta and mix it with meat sauce.

Don't bother switching from one type of sugar to another. That includes brown sugar, raw sugar, honey, syrup or agave. No matter what form it comes in, your body will break it down and treat it all essentially the same. Eating too much white sugar is just as bad as eating too much honey.

Buy lower sugar versions of the foods you normally eat. Skip fruit juice and buy whole fruit. Choose cereal with less than 5 grams of sugar per serving and try the sugar free oatmeals. Pick lower sugar jelly's, breads and sauces. If you must drink soda, only get the diet versions.

Speaking of diet soda, some researchers believe when the brain registers the taste of a diet drink; it also expects calories to come along. When there are none, your brain signals you to go out and get nourishment, which can lead to a binge. Eat a little something every time you drink a diet soda. Your brain gets the pleasurable taste and your body gets the calories it craves.

 

Identify and manage cravings that aren't tied to hunger. If you're stressed go out and exercise, call a friend, read a book or do some housework. Escape a little by taking a relaxing bath or shower, try some yoga or meditate. As the stress levels drop your sweet tooth should relax.

If you're tired, realize you probably aren't getting enough rest. Go to bed a little earlier and get a good nights sleep. Tiredness may also be a sign you're dehydrated. Reach for some water and drink it regularly throughout the day.

Don't give sugary treats as gifts. Instead of a box of candy, give your loved one some flowers. Don't reward yourself with cake or cookies, treat yourself to an afternoon in the park, a day at the beach or go for a hike.

Home cooked meals tend to have less sugar than the prepackaged ones. Make more homemade foods. Visit the recipes section of our website for hundreds of meals you can prepare yourself. Look for the words "freezer friendly" under the name for items you can cook ahead of time and re-heat in the microwave.

Avoid a relapse. Sugar cravings are insidious and can develop quickly. If you've kicked the habit, don't binge on cookies and cake when you go to a party. Just like any drug, you'll find the desire quickly comes back and you'll have to fight it all over again. Should you happen to slip, don't beat yourself up about it. Use the steps and once again go back to healthier habits.

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2/20/2011