You know that I love you.
Yes, the 1960s man band, The Four Tops, was right on when they sang about “sugar.” Though they were crooning about the human loves in their lives, they also could have been singing about the love in most of our lives….SUGAR!
I’ve been avoiding blogging about this issue for weeks…for practicality, and I suppose subconsciously, waiting until all of us have finished the last of the marshmallow Peeps, and chocolate covered matzo. But now, no more excuses. It’s time to discuss our sugar cravings and addictions.
Just two weeks ago, on April 1st, 60 Minutes aired a segment on their Sunday night TV news magazine entitled “Sugar.” Dr. Sanjay Gupta exposed some of the new research on our over-the-top consumption of sugar, and its effects on our health. Needless to say, the report was not praising this popular processed product. In fact, if you listen to the report you’ll hear doctors and researchers confirm that “our American lifestyle is killing us…” and that 75% of this is preventable.
Since I’ve never been one for conflict or debate, and I much prefer offering solutions to problems, I’m going to abstain from telling you all what you should do about sugar. For me, I try to listen to my body (and of course, watch it as well…if I see too much of me I reduce or eliminate the sugar for awhile). I guess I’m lucky in that I’ve never had much of a sweet tooth, except for 3 days of each month when Mrs. PMS screams at me, “GET ME SUGAR, NOW!” I always oblige her. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve got cravings…it’s just that mine are for sodium and fat. As they say, one man’s bacon double cheeseburger is another man’s hot fudge sundae.
Here’s the bottom line…
We’re all different, and it’s important to listen to your body and feel what it’s telling you. I know that after we eat sugar in any form, whether it’s from a soda, a cookie or even an orange, we feel a temporary euphoric sensation in our brains. The problem is, if we continue to consume too much sugar, we are building up a tolerance for the amount that is needed to attain that same level of euphoria. That’s when we start eating more and more sugar, and feel almost as if we have an addiction to the sweet stuff.
So enough of the lecture…let’s do something about it.
Here’s a list of 10 things you can try to deal with your sugar cravings/addictions. This list was compiled by the Institute for Integrative Nutrition from Anne Louise Gittleman’s book, Get the Sugar Out: 501 Simple Ways to Cut the Sugar Out of Any Diet.
Reduce or eliminate caffeine.
The ups and downs of caffeine include dehydration and blood sugar swings, causing sugar cravings to be more frequent.
Sometimes sweet cravings are a sign of dehydration. Before you go for the sugar, have a glass of water and then wait a few minutes and see what happens.
Eat sweet vegetables and fruit.
They are sweet, healthy, and delicious. The more you eat, the less you’ll crave.
Use gentle sweets.
Avoid chemicalized, artificial sweeteners and foods with added sugars. Use gentle sweeteners like maple syrup, brown rice syrup, dried fruit, stevia, barley malt, and agave nectar.
Get physically active.
Begin with simple activities like walking or yoga. Start with 10 minutes a day and gradually increase. It will help balance your blood sugar levels, boost your energy, and reduce tension, without medicating yourself with sugar.
Get more sleep, rest, and relaxation.
When you’re tired or stressed, your body will crave energy—in the form of sugar. These cravings are often the result of being sleep-deprived— going to bed late or waking up early, sometimes for months and years on end.
Evaluate the amount of animal food you eat.
Eating too much can lead to cravings for sweets. So can eating too little! Experiment. Respect your body’s individuality.
Eliminate fat–free or low-fat packaged snack foods.
These foods contain high quantities of sugar to compensate for lack of flavor and fat, which will send you on a roller coaster of sugar highs and lows.
Experiment with spices.
Coriander, cinnamon, cloves, and cardamom will naturally sweeten your foods and reduce cravings.
Slow down and find sweetness in non–food ways!
Your body does not biologically need sugar, but it does long for hugs, time with friends, outside time, workouts, massages, etc. When life becomes sweet enough itself, no additives are needed!
So, my sweet-as-candy comrades, I hope this gives you something to think about when you feel a sugar craving coming on. I truly believe that we are all works in progress. We have days when we fall off the sugar cane wagon…but we shouldn’t beat ourselves up. We’ll have another chance tomorrow to try again.
And isn’t that really what it’s all about…trying?
Until Next Time,