If you’ve tried to cut back on sugar as part of a healthy lifestyle, you’ve probably realized it’s harder than you originally thought. For some who have consumed large amounts of sugar for years (if not decades), making the switch may seem to challenge every ounce of willpower you have.
There is one main reason why this happens: Your brain.
Sugar, when consumed in large amounts, alters your brain’s structure. When you consume sugar, large amounts of dopamine are released. Over time, sensitivity wanes in response to the same amounts of sugar, meaning you must consume more to feel the same effects (much like a drug addiction). Sugar, like drugs, affects the reward centers of the brain. When you stop consuming sugar, you’ll experience withdrawal-like symptoms, making it difficult to stay on track.
Luckily, it doesn’t have to be so difficult. In fact, there are five simple tips you can follow to kick your sugar addiction for good. But first, let’s discuss the full effect of sugar on the brain.
This is Your Brain on Sugar
Glucose (i.e. sugar) is the sole fuel for the human brain. This is why when many individuals go on restrictive, low-carbohydrate diets they feel forgetful or disoriented. Because the brain runs on sugar, consuming it fires up the reward centers of the brain.
This is why if you eat a lot of sugar, especially simple carbs in sources such as syrup, sodas, and sugar you’ll feel an immediate high followed by a low. After all, you cannot equate the sugars in fruit to the sugars in candy. Fruit also contains fiber, which slows digestion and sugar absorption into the bloodstream. Added sugars are often where food addictions begin.
Because of this cycle, it’s simple to see why many struggle to cut out sugar from their diet entirely. But if you’re a sugar addict, there’s hope for you yet.
Tip #1: Eat More Frequently
Though evidence has diminished that supports the benefits of several small meals throughout the day in contrast to three main meals, it may still help kick your sugar addiction.
Eating regularly prevents your blood sugar levels from dropping, preventing you from feeling hungry as well. Often, these drops in blood sugar are accompanied by sugar cravings. Thus, if you eat more frequently, you can avoid the drops that may cause you to make poor decisions.
Tip #2: Stay Away From Processed Foods
Natural sugars are healthy, but added sugars aren’t. In America, it’s estimated that most individuals consume 22 teaspoons of added sugar daily, often hidden in foods that are supposedly “healthy.” This only makes it more difficult to break a sugar addiction.
When you consume whole foods such as fruit (fructose) or dairy products (lactose), you’re consuming sugar in its natural form. This is the type of sugar the brain can turn into glucose for fuel and that will help you avoid the highs and lows of sugar consumption. By simply avoiding processed foods with added sugar, you can make it simpler to quit your addiction for good.
Tip #3: Consume Protein and Fat in Every Meal
Both protein and fat are macronutrients proven to help control hunger. However, both also serve an essential role in regulating blood sugar as well.
Carbohydrates have the most significant impact on blood sugar. By replacing some of the carbohydrates you would eat during meals with protein or fat, you can stabilize blood sugar and prevent the highs and lows that cause cravings. Of course, you should consume lean protein and unsaturated fats for the best results (especially if you’re trying to lose weight).
Tip #4: Steer Clear of Fat-Free Products
When you’re looking to lose weight, fat-free products seem like a great option. However, manufacturers substitute the fat for sugar, creating a dilemma for dieters who are addicted to sugar and searching for a solution.
It’s always best to avoid the fat-free products and instead, consume healthy, whole foods sources of fat in your diet. After all, you need to consume fat for the liver to burn fat. When combined like a supplement like PhenQ which burns fat and prevents the storage of additional fat, you can lose weight and eliminate the added sugar in the process.
Tip #5: Get Enough Sleep
It can be tempting to stay up late to go out or watch your favorite television program, but you shouldn’t. A study conducted in 2013 reveals the connection between circadian sleep cycles and late-night sugar cravings.
When people are sleep-deprived, they experience greater responses in the reward centers of their brains. As such, resisting urges to consume candy bars and other sources of refined sugar is even more difficult. Next time you feel like staying up late, get in bed instead.
Kicking Your Sugar Habit Doesn’t Have to be a Challenge
Giving up sugar may seem impossible, especially in consideration of the physiological implications of sugar addiction on the brain. However, you can take simple steps that make it simpler to resist urges, all while incorporating healthy habits into your days that make weight loss simpler as well.
So, what’s stopping you from kicking your sugar addiction? You know how to combat the cravings, it’s up to you to get started.