I recently stumbled on a piece on WebMD on sugar addiction. The piece provides information about sugar cravings and excellent advice on how to tame your sweet tooth.
I recommend the entire piece. Here are some highlights:
Your Brain on Sugar
Your brain…sees sugar as a reward, which makes you keep wanting more of it. If you often eat a lot of sugar, you’re reinforcing that reward, which can make it tough to break the habit.
Starch Can Equal Sugar
Think you don’t have a sweet tooth, but crave bagels, chips, or french fries? These starchy foods are complex carbs that the body breaks down into simple sugars…starches can make blood sugar surge and crash like sugar. White rice and white flour do this. Highly refined starches like white bread, pretzels, crackers, and pasta are worst.
Do Sugar Detox Diets Work?
Can you beat your sugar habit by quitting cold turkey? Some sugar detox plans urge you to avoid all sweets. That means all fruit, dairy, and refined grains. The idea is to purge your system of sugar. Diet changes like this are too drastic to keep up. Changes that you can do only for the short term mean you’ll fall back to your old habits.
Retrain Your Taste Buds
You don’t need sugar as much as you think you do. In fact, you can train your taste buds to enjoy things that aren’t as sweet. Try cutting out one sweet food from your diet each week. For example, pass on dessert after dinner. Start putting less sugar in your coffee or cereal. Over time, you will lose your need for that sugar taste.
Choose Good-for-You Sweets
You don’t have to give up sweetness. Just get it from other sources. Try fresh berries or pureed fruit on oatmeal instead of sugar…low-sugar yogurt can help.
Kick the Habit in Baby Steps
If you make small, simple changes to your diet, it’s easy to keep them up. Start by eating more fruits and vegetables. Drink extra water. Check food labels, and pick those that don’t have a lot of sugar. Cut out a little bit of sugar each week. After a few weeks, you’ll be surprised at how little you miss it.
Can Artificial Sweeteners Help?
Some studies suggest artificial sweeteners may leave you craving more sugar…Pay attention to your body. Are sweeteners making you crave even more sugar? If so, look elsewhere for that sweet taste.
Limit the ‘Healthy’ Sugars, Too
Honey, brown sugar, and cane juice may sound healthy. But sugar is sugar. Whether it comes from bees or sugar cane, it can cause your blood sugar to rise.
Scout Out Hidden Sugar
Sugar can hide in foods where you least expect it. Although they don’t seem sweet, ketchup, barbecue sauce, and pasta sauce can have loads of sugar. So can reduced-fat salad dressings, bread, baked beans, and some flavored coffees. Get in the habit of reading labels. Filter out high-sugar foods before they hit your shopping cart. (And check out this WebMD piece on hidden sugars.)