Sugar addiction. Stop it.

by | Mar 20, 2011 | Digestive health, Emotional wellbeing | 0 comments

Too many people eat too much sugar.  It’s  a real problem. While some is good, a lot is not. No way.

Sugar over-consumption plays havoc with energy, metabolism, mood, hormones, digestion, and much more..

The problem is that we tend to get addicted – both to the physiological effect of sugar (as in the immediate effect on blood glucose levels) as well as the psychological component of allowing ourselves these treats and sweeteners. Life is sweet enough my friends!

In the clinic, I often talk to people who have way too much sugar every day – via sweetened drinks, refined foods, alcohol, and spoonfuls of sugar or sweeteners with every meal.

For most people, total elimination is unrealistic – trying to cut out everything is far too hard and will never succeed. However, a gradual and conscious reduction is very easy and, importantly, sustainable.

Here are some of my key tips:

1. Focus on eating complex carbohydrates and consuming simple sugars through fresh fruit and veggies.

With main meals, keep the major carbohydrates (e.g. rice, pasta, grains) as a small serving, filling up the main part of the meal with vegetables, alongside a quality source of protein (e.g. tofu, eggs, fish, lean meat, etc).

Also avoid, as much as possible, refined flour products – such as white or processed breads, cakes, biscuits, muffins, muesli bars, etc.

This means cutting down on:
Sugar – white, brown, all of it.
Honey – it’s ok as an occasional sweetener, but not all the time.
White breads / flours – and any associated products (e.g. cakes, biscuits, muffins).
Fizzy drinks – and don’t even think about drinking those diet options.
Sweetened and fortified juices – fresh juiced is fine, but reconstituted is not.
The carbohydrate foods to keep up in a balanced diet include:
Rice – brown, red or basmati (around 1/2 – 1 cup, cooked)
Pasta – buckwheat / wholegrain / corn / rice /etc (around 1/2 – 1 cup, cooked)
Other staples such as quinoa, millet, buckwheat, and polenta – these can be used to complement a stir fry, ‘pasta’ sauce, curry, meat and vegetable meal, etc.
Bread (rye / spelt / gluten-free) – but not more than once per day. For example, just with breakfast or just with lunch, not with both.
Vegetables – no limit you hear me: no limit. Just eat that stuff right up.
Fruits – 1-2 serves / day is excellent, just as long as it’s in conjunction with plenty of veg (particularly leafy greens), some complex carbohydrates, sufficient protein and good quality fats.
2. Aim for a good source of protein in every meal.

Protein hits the satiety centre for longer, so your blood sugar, energy and food (sugar) cravings remain more  stable.
A decent hit of protein can be as simple as:
1-2 spoonfuls of natural yoghurt
boiled eggs
a palmful of almonds or walnuts
tin of tuna or sardines
1/4 – 1/2 cup lentils or beans
a small amount of feta
a bowl of edamame
a small lean steak, chicken breast, or fish fillet
3. Keep up your fluids

Drink plenty of water, and herbal tea, throughout the day.
Try to avoid drinking with meals, as this can hamper digestion by diluting stomach acid – this then inhibits absorption, which means your body doesn’t get everything it needs out of a meal, which means you’ll start to get cravings for food and energy, which tends to mess with overall sugar intake.
Additionally, squeeze some lemon juice in water first thing in the morning. This isn’t really specific to sugar cravings, but it is good for digestion generally and a nice practice to get into.
4. What about baking?

If you’re that way inclined, you can still make tasty treats, but instead of sugar use xylitol. Available in health food shops, xylitol is a naturally occurring substance that tastes sweet but has much smaller impact on blood sugar levels. It has a sweeter taste than sugar so you only need around half the amount recommended in recipes (e.g. a recipe calling for 1 cup of sugar would only require 1/2 cup xylitol).
I would also recommend steering away from the refined white flour when baking,  in favour of a good quality spelt flour or gluten-free blend.
5. Chromium

Chromium plays a key role in blood glucose metabolism and can be very effective for people who get serious cravings. The dose is usually 200mcg (in tablet form) taken 2-3 times per day, with main meals.
NB: before taking anything, talk to a qualified health professional.