If you've ever tried to cut back on sugar, you may have realized how incredibly difficult it is. In some cases it may seem downright impossible.
It seems clear that when comes to foods like sugar and other junk foods, that something in the brain does not function like it's supposed to. The system in our brain that is supposed regulates our food intake and prevents us from gaining weight malfunctions. The question is: Why?
Overstimulation of The Reward Centers of The Brain Causes "Addiction"
Sugar is uniquely fattening, primarily due to its high content of fructose.
There are several ways that causes us to overeat and gain weight. One of the mechanisms is the power impact sugar has on the reward centers of the brains. When we eat foods that contain a lot of sugar, a massive amount of dopamine is released in an area of the brain (the Nucleus Accumbens). When we eat these foods often in large amount, the dopamine receptors start to down-regulate. Now there are fewer receptors for the dopamine. This means that the next time we eat these foods, there effect is blunted. We will need more junk food next time we eat in order to get the same level of reward. Sugar or other junk foods, due to their powerful effect on the reward centers of the brain, function similarly to drugs of abuse like cocaine and nicotine. The exact same brain centers are at play. People may start losing control over their consumption and it can be tough to break the habit.
Quick Sugar Highs...
Why do you get a rush when eat a midday candy bar? The sugar in it, called simple carbohydrate, is quickly turned into glucose in your bloodstream. Your blood sugar levels spike. Simple carbs are also found in fruits, veggies, and diary products. But these have fiber and protein that slow the process. Syrup, soda, candy, and table sugar don't.
And Sugar Lows...
Your body needs to move glucose out of the bloodstream and into your cells for energy. To do this, your pancreas makes insulin (a hormone). As a result, your blood sugar level may a sudden drop. This rapid change in blood sugar leaves you feeling wiped out and shaky and searching for more sweets to regain that sugar "high". So that midday sugary treat has set you up for more bad eating.
Starch Equal Sugar
Think you don't have a sweet tooth, but crave bagels, chips or French fries? These starchy food are complex carbs that the body breaks down into simple sugars. Eaten without better foods, starches can make blood sugar surge and crash like sugar. White rice and white flour do this. Highly refined states like white bread, pretzels, crackers and pasta are worst.
Do Sugar Detox Diets Works?
Can you beat your sugar habit by quitting cold turkey? Some sugar detox plans urge you to avoid all sweets (no fruits, no dairy, no refined grains). The idea is to purge your system of sugar. For some people it can works but for some others this could be too drastic to keep up on long term and they fall back to their old habits.
Retrain your last 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 you 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-Your 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. A glass of low-fat milk or low-sugar can help.
Kick The Habit in Baby Step
If you make small, simple changes to your diet, its' easy to keep them up. Start by eating more vegetables and more fruits (but no more than 2 fruits / day). Drink extra water. Check food labels, and pick those that don't have a lot of sugar. Cut a little bit of sugar each week. After a few weeks, you'll be surprised at how little you miss it.
Let Protein Help
Eating more protein in an easy way to curb sugar cravings. High-protein foods digest more slowly, keeping you feeling full for longer. Protein doesn't make your blood sugar spike the way refined carb and sugars do. Pick proteins like lean chicken, low fat yogurt, eggs, nuts, or beans.
Fill Up on Fiber
Fiber helps fight a sugar itch in many ways. First, it keeps you full. High-Fiber foods also give you more energy. Because they don't raise you blood sugar, there's no hungry crash diet. Choose fruits, vegetables, wholes grains. Or smear some organic peanut butter on an apple for protein/fiber combo.
Exercise can help wipe out those sugar cravings and change the way you eat in general. You start feeling better and want healthier foods. Do what you like, such walking, riding your bike, swimming. Start out slow, and work toward at least 30 minute at a time, 5 days a week.
Can Artificial Sweeteners Help?
Some studies suggest artificial sweeteners may leave you craving more sugar, they don't help you break your taste for sweets. 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, etc... may sound healthy. But sugar is sugar. Whether it come from bees or sugar cane, it can cause your blood sugar to rise. Honey and unrefined sugar are slightly higher in nutrients, but their calories still count.
Does Sugar Cause Diabetes?
Sugar itself doesn't cause diabetes. But lots of sugar splurges can point you there. Too much of anything, including sugar, can pack on pounds, for on thing. Heavy bodies may have a harder time using insulin, the hormone that controls blood sugar. When your body resists insulin, blood sugar and your risk of diabetes go up.
If you are struggling to beat your sugar cravings by yourself, a Dietician or Nutritionist can help you with your diet.
Amandine - Diététicienne-Nutritionniste Diplômée d'état en France
Membre de l'AFDN (Association Française des DIététiciens-Nutritionnistes)
Sources: WebMD and Nutrition Authority.