How we become sugar addicts
Most of us are addicted to sugar. For some, this addiction started innocently as babies. Whether you got your nourishment from your mother’s milk or from any of the popular baby formulas on the market at the time . . . sugar was involved. Not a bad thing, but for those with a sugar addiction, this was the beginning.
It has even been establish that many of us may be genetically inclined to consume more carbohydrates. And as you know, your family history can have a major impact on your current habits.
Our sugar addiction grew as we got older, fed largely by the foods we were given as youngsters. For breakfast the standard meal was a bowl of milk (good) with sugar laden cereal (bad). For lunch it was a sandwich made on white bread and a sugary treat (mine was cream filled cookies). . . washed down by a sugary juice or soda.
Marketing companies and food manufacturers know that we have an affinity for sugar and they obliged us by adding it to as many products as they could sell . . . for bigger profits.
If you were fed a wholesome diet as a child your sugar cravings wouldn’t come to dominate your eating habits now.
As a consequence of our need to satisfy our sugar cravings, many diseases began cropping up in our population . . . chief among them – pre-diabetes and diabetes.
Sugar facts to keep in mind
Before I discuss ways to curb your addiction for sugar here are some important points to keep in mind.
- Know what foods contain sugar. Besides the obvious – candies, sodas, pie, ice cream, cookies, sweetened fruit juices – there are a host of other foods that are loaded with sugar. For example, barbecue sauce, ketchup, chocolate milk, cereals, alcohol, mayonnaise and crackers are just a few.
- We should know the code words for the stuff and begin reading food labels. Ingredients are labeled in the order of their amounts in a product. So if sugar is the first or second ingredient on the label that means most of the contents is sugar.
- Sugar comes under many names. Here are a few of the more common ones:
- High fructose corn syrup
- cane sugar
- corn starch
- corn syrup
- malt extract
- Anything on the label ending in ‘ose’ is a sugar. Become a label reader.
You can stop your sugar addiction and prevent pre-diabetes
Because sugar is so ingrained in our diets withdrawing from it will take determined effort on your part. It’s often compared to a drug addict being weaned off their habit.
One of the first steps in weaning ourselves from excess carbs is to be mindful of when you feel the need to have a ‘treat’.
Keep a food journal for a few days and note when the urge comes up. Your goal here is to find an alternate source for the junk when that urge comes on.
Make a list of healthy alternatives or substitutes.
Also tell others about your intentions . . . especially the person preparing your meals.
Ideally, going cold turkey would be the best way to end our need to reach for a sugar filled meal. This could be challenging for many of us but if you are serious about quitting then all other ways are just delay tactics.
If you can’t go cold turkey then try the following tips:
- Each time you eat, have a balanced meal of fat, carbs and protein. Try to have at least .4 to .5 grams of protein per your body weight and the same for carbs . . . for your daily food intake. So if your weigh 180 pounds your daily protein intake should be between 73 and 90 grams. Divide that into three to five meals per day. Your carbs should consist of leafy green veggies with minimal dressing. Your plate can be made up of one-third good fat such as avocado, olives, nuts and etc.
- Substitute low sugar fruits like apples, strawberries, peaches, oranges and kiwis for high glycemic fruits. They are fibrous and satisfying and can be eaten on the go.
- Include lentil and beans with your meals as often as you can. My favorite is chickpeas with a filling veggie salad for lunch.
- If you give in and have a sugar treat make sure it’s a smaller portion than you would normally eat and don’t beat yourself up for it. Or mix your ‘go to craving’ with a healthy snack such as mixing chocolate with almonds or an apple with raisins.
- When the sugar craving hits – midmorning or mid-afternoon – get up from what ever you are doing and go for a walk. You want to take your mind off the siren call of the quick fix carb. If the weather is not conducive to being outdoors then call on a friend. Let them know the struggles you are going through. You will be amazed what an encouraging friend can do for your mental and physical well-being.
- Eat five small meals during the day. Choose low carb foods. This will allow you to fill up on quality foods that are not sugar laden.
- As stated earlier, contact a friend who has your best interest at heart, who will give genuine support. Or join a support group such as Sparkle People.
- Reduce the stressors in your life. Many of us resort to eating easy-to-get comfort food (junk) when we are under pressure. Instead of doing this, do some deep breathing exercises or take a few minutes to meditate.
- Remove all sugary temptation from your cupboard. If it’s there you will eat it. Replace it with wholesome sugar-free treats.
Preventing pre-diabetes is an ongoing process. Controlling the amount of sugar we consume is one part of that process you can start doing now.
There are other things you can do to break this addiction but try doing the things outlined above. The important thing is to know you have a problem and that there are steps you can take to fix it.
Get a copy of my book on How to Prevent Pre-diabetes where I explain how to prevent this disease from happening to you by following some simple activity programs.