We all know that too much sugar is terrible for us. It leads to obesity, diabetes, heart disease and fast oral health problems.
So why can’t we just quit? Why can’t that little voice in our brain that tells us not to take up smoking or addictive drugs jump in and talk some sense into us?
For many of us, it’s because we’re talking about fighting an addiction we’ve had since our parents gave us our first popsicle. And we haven’t equipped ourselves to deal with something like this because we don’t realize how strong the hold is just yet.
And it’s STRONG. But it can be beat. You just need to know what you’re getting into and have the right strategy…
Why do we NEED it so bad?
When we talk about sugars from a health perspective, we’re usually talking about refined sugar added into things like bread, candy, and soda. This includes table sugar, high-fructose corn syrup and white flour.
And believe it or not, there’s an evolutionary basis for your ice cream cravings.
Our early ancestors were biologically driven to seek out sugary foods, like fruit and honey. Consuming sugars helped us build up body fat, which was essential for surviving periods of scarcity. The brain rewarded this survival instinct by releasing feel-good neurotransmitters.
Neurotransmitters are the brain’s chemical messengers. There are billions of these molecules at work all the time, sending messages throughout your nervous system that allow you to think, move, breathe, etc.
Addictive drugs like heroin and cocaine produce a high because they either masquerade as neurotransmitters or prompt the nervous system to release a flood of them. These kinds of changes in your brain chemistry lead to dependence, withdrawal, and addiction.
Whether you can actually become physically dependent upon sugar depends largely on your definition. But it does appear that many people experience withdrawal-like symptoms when they give it up.
If you cut added sugars from your diet, you may experience:
- Intense cravings for something sweet
- Intense cravings for other carbohydrates, like chips or pasta
- Depressed mood
And honestly, these symptoms can be UNBEARABLE.
By cutting out sugar, you’ve taken away a huge supply of endorphins, so your brains are really desperately trying to replenish the supply.
This is why binging after trying to stick to a diet is so common – we want those endorphins flowing again!
The problem with endorphins is that they don’t stick around for long. A binge often leaves you feeling guilty, depressed, and angry.
And how do we generally feel better again? Another binge! And so the cycle continues…
How to Beat It
Look, no one wants to hear this, but trying to kick the habit overnight (almost) can’t be done.
Old habits are extremely hard to break, so start with small changes.
Begin by cutting out just your post-dinner ice-cream or whatever your vice is. After a couple of weeks of success, pick one more thing and give your brain another couple of weeks to get used to that change.
You’ll be surprised at how resilient your brain can be if you don’t try to overload it. You’ll get stronger and stronger with each new step you take and sooner than later you’ll look up and realize you don’t even crave sugar anymore!
Until then, celebrate your small successes and use these tips to stick to your plan.
Tip #1: A smart breakfast will change your life
Skip the cereal. Most cereals are PACKED with sugar.
Get some protein with foods like eggs, turkey sausage, or yogurt. Even if you’re not generally hungry at breakfast, know that filling up on healthy foods in the morning will change your day in a huge way.
Tip #2: Snacks keep you in line
If you’re letting yourself stay hungry, you’re already losing the battle. Your body is in straight survival mode and it rarely loses a battle of wills.
Keep healthy snacks with protein like almonds around for whenever you start to feel it coming on. It’s actually shocking how a handful of them can give you that energy boost you need.
Tip #3: Sleep sleep sleep
When we’re tired during the day, our brains crave ways to perk up. They crave more endorphins.
And the most accessible endorphins around? Sugar!
Get plenty of sleep and you’ll actually be giving yourself the self control you’ve been needing.
Tip #4: See your dentist
If you’ve been on this sugar ride for a while, the most important thing to do is make sure your oral health isn’t compromised.
Sugar destroys your teeth little by little and until you get any oral issues that you already have worked out, you’ll never be truly free of sugar and its ramifications.
Good luck! You can do it!
Click ‘Find a Doctor’ and make an appointment today with your local specialist!
Article originally published at yournewteethnow.com.