You don’t have to live in Houston, TX, to realize there’s food with added sugar everywhere you look. If you want to quit sugar for good, it becomes pretty difficult. Not only is added sugar in the vast majority of food we eat, it’s also quite addictive. It stimulates the reward center of the brain, like an opioid, releasing dopamine that makes us feel good. While it’s not physically addictive like an opioid, it’s emotionally addictive because it makes you feel good. Think about the times you grabbed a sweet because you felt bad emotionally. That’s what is meant by emotionally addictive.
You can go cold turkey or slowly.
Quitting anything or starting anything all begins with the first step. Whether you choose to give up all sugar and change your entire diet in one felt swoop or start by taking baby steps, you’ll be doing yourself a favor. If you’re a baby step taker, begin by making changes to the obvious. Eliminate sugary treats or sugary beverages from your diet. Often people fail to identify a soft drink as a source of sugar or calories. Switch to water, not diet drinks that trick your brain into thinking you had sugar. If you’re getting rid of sugar in steps, do this for a week or two and move on to the next step.
If you’ve successfully given up food with added sugar, including cereal and sweet tea, it’s time to start reading labels. You’ll be amazed at how many condiments contain sugar. Watch out for other names for sugar, such as dextrose, fructose and etc. Just because it’s a natural sugar, it doesn’t mean it’s okay. Natural or man-made, they both work the same way to keep you on the sugar train.
Watch out for simple carbs that act like sugar.
When you eat refined grains, such as white bread, pasta and crackers—which also have sugar in them–your body breaks them down quickly and there’s a rush of sugar. Try substitutions. Vegetable spaghetti—vegetable squash—is a great substitute for pasta. Consider eggplant or zucchini lasagna over regular. Add more meat and vegetables to your pasta sauce and cut back on the pasta.
- When you want something sugary, go for fruit. The fiber in fruit changes how the sugar affects your body. Keep fruit cut up and ready to eat in the refrigerator. Put some peanut butter on the apple to mae it more filling.
- If you really crave sugar, take a hike. Really! Do something active. You’ll be surprised at how that can get you away from food and change your mood. It helps release dopamine that is the feel good hormone.
- Eat healthy meals and don’t worry about weight until you conquered sugar. If you’re following the rules and giving up sugar and simple carbs, you probably will actually lose weight.
- Get plenty of sleep and hydrate frequently. Lack of sleep adds to sugar and food cravings. Thirst can also be mistaken for hunger. Water is amazing when you need a quick pick-me-up.
For more information, contact us today at Reggie C Fitness