real talk: are you addicted to sugar?
I used to eat vanilla frosting out of the container with a spoon at night. I'd begin by dipping pretzels in it and by the fifth pretzel I'd just be licking spoonful after spoonful. I wouldn't even put a handful of pretzels and a side of frosting in a bowl and attempt some sort of portion control. No, I would stand in front of the refrigerator and go wild. I'd immediately have a stomach ache and regret my actions. Ten minutes later I would have another craving for something sweet and would head back to the kitchen to feed this beast inside of me. I used to think, "What is wrong with me?" I wasn't particularly hungry. I knew what I was doing was going to give me a terrible stomach ache. I knew that It would sleep awful that night. I knew that it would make my skin break out. I knew that it was wrong and not normal. However, I didn't care. It was like a drug. I just needed it. I used to reprimand myself for being weak and lacking willpower. However, is it possible something else was going on? Could I be addicted to sugar? Is that even possible? Well, yes, it is. In fact, doctors have said sugar is more addictive than cocaine. Let me repeat that for you, sugar is more addictive than cocaine.
I know I am not the only one who has had moments like this. Here are five clues you may have a sugar addiction.
1. You eat sugary foods in secret
2. You eat even though you aren't hungry just because you have a craving
3. You consume sugar when you are sad or feel you've "earned it"
4. You tell yourself you won't eat certain foods anymore, and then feel bad about it when you do
5. You consume sugary foods until you feel sick
Now that you know you're a sugar addict, here are five ways to curb the cravings.
1. Be aware
The first step is to recognize that you're not crazy, weak or lack a moral compass. Sugar is highly addictive and it's ok to admit it and accept it. Now that you are aware of your addiction, you can fix it. Begin by asking yourself why you eat so much sugar to begin with. Do you use it as a coping mechanism for stress, depression or insecurities? Do you eat it for an energy boost? Do you eat it to reward yourself for a job well done? Try replacing that sugary rush with something positive like exercise, seeing a friend, reading something stimulating, listening to music, going for a walk around the neighborhood, cooking a healthy recipe or picking up a new hobby.
2. Add in healthy foods instead of taking away
Instead of quitting cold turkey, add in the healthy foods. For example, if your breakfast consists of a caramel latte and chocolate croissant, try drinking a cup of tea before the coffee and a slice of avocado toast before the croissant. Eventually the health foods will make you feel so nourished that you wont be craving the sugary stuff anymore. Try this for all of your meals and snacks. Add in more vegetables, leafy greens, healthy fats and whole grains and you will find that soon you don't need/want the junk as much.
3. Stay Hydrated
Drinking enough water is important on so many levels but when it comes to sugar cravings, dehydration may be a trigger. When our bodies need water, a signal goes off in the brain. However, dehydration triggers both hunger and thirst receptors. So, many times we may thing we are hungry but actually just need a glass of water. Be conscious of your cravings. Mine usually come around 3pm. And it's never for carrots and celery, right? It's always for something out of a package. If you're not craving a health food, then drink some water, wait a few minutes and then see how you feel. Most of the time you will have forgotten about the sugar craving. Usually if you are yearning for something unhealthy then you're not actually hungry, it's just that sugar addiction rearing it's ugly head.
4. Eat Fruit
We can't just go through our lives never eating anything sweet. That's just so unrealistic. And I am not recommending that at all. Our bodies run on glucose, after all. I am just talking about cutting down. We should be eating about 4 teaspoons of sugar a day. However, most Americans are consuming almost 20 teaspoons. Pure madness. Eat a piece of nature's candy- delicious, raw fruit if you want a treat. I get my sweet fix by eating a couple dates with almond butter, sweet potatoes or a drizzle of maple syrup on my pancakes.
5. Read labels
Companies think they're soooo smart. They think that if they use different alias' for sugar that we wont know the difference when reading labels. Sugar is hidden under an array of identities- fructose, glucose, lactose, sucrose, maltose, agave, brown rice syrup, carob syrup, corn syrup, high-fructose corn syrup, maple syrup, malt syrup, starch, honey, dextran, glycerol, disaccharides, monosaccharides, evaporated cane juice and dextrose- just to name a few. Many labels will list several types of sugar. Make sure to read the label on EVERYTHING that you buy. I like to use the App Fooducate. Companies want to make the labels as complicated as possible to understand so that people wont bother reading them. This app takes the headache out of it. All you have to do is scan the product's barcode. It immediately gives it a letter grade (A-F) and tells you why. It also shows you healthier alternatives. Fooducate is the greatest thing ever. ever. ever. ever.
This post is not about depriving yourself so that you lose weight. (Although weight loss is a positive side effect) This is about taking control back in your life. This is about recognizing that the foods you eat have a direct effect on your body and mind. This is about taking initiative instead of shrugging your shoulders and chalking it up to a lack of willpower. Life is an amazing adventure and we should be enjoying it, not constantly being distracted by being on a diet or the need for a sugar fix. That's not normal. Well, it is normal in this day and age, but it shouldn't be. Let's not accept normalcy anymore! Enjoy good food. Make educated decisions about the foods that you are eating. Enjoy this whole foods lifestyle and be wary of how different foods make you feel.