Christian Living

Healthy Living

Break Your Sugar Addiction

Many of us are slaves and don't even realize it. Slaves to sugar, that is.

Are you overweight? Do you feel tired all the time? Are you are always hungry? Do you have difficulty feeling satisfied? If you answered yes to these questions, chances are you are a slave to sugar. That means it controls you.

Sugar addiction is very serious. Sugar is responsible for the majority of our health concerns including cancer, heart disease, and diabetes, not to mention obesity, which leads to a whole host of other problems.

It's been said the average American consumes 150 pounds of sugar a year, and that amount continues to rise. The reason is two-fold: some type of sugar is added to nearly every food item at the grocery store and at restaurants. Processed foods use sugar, specifically high fructose corn syrup, as a cheap preservative and as a way to improve flavor.

But the biggest bonus for the food manufacturer is the addictive nature of sugar. Therefore, when you eat a product containing some form of sugar, you are sure to want more and more of it. And, to the delight of the food companies, high fructose corn syrup short-circuits a feeling of fullness, so we keep wanting, and buying more.

We all know high fructose corn syrup is the main ingredient in sodas and sweets, but you might be surprised to know it's added to just about everything else, too, and in very large amounts...things like bread, pasta sauce, cereal, yogurt, even canned vegetables!

Breaking your sugar addiction is one of the single best things you can do for your overall health. I have done it myself, and I have never felt better. I have been sugar-free for eight months now and I hope to never go back.

But before I get over-confident, I must admit sugar is a formidable foe. Even though I've resisted a long time, it is still highly tempting and I am aware I could be lured back into its clutches at any moment, so I must remain vigilant!

So how does a person break their sugar addiction? Several ways, really.

1. Realize how rotten sugar is for your health.

You must first be convinced it will make your life worse, not better. In fact, when you are tempted to eat something sugary or carby, tell yourself, "that will make me feel worse, not better."

Remind yourself about how momentary pleasure often leads to prolonged misery later. Such is definitely the case with sugar.

2. Realize that cutting back on sugar and refined carbs is good, but going cold-turkey is even better.

Why? Because the more sugar you have, the more you want. Said a different way, the less you have, the less you will crave.

This a scientifically proven fact. Sugar stimulates the pleasure center of our brain, which signals the secretion of a dopamine. Sound familiar? Maybe you heard about dopamine in your health class when you were being warned against taking drugs. Yes, addictive drugs like heroin and cocaine also trigger the exact same response in your brain that sugar does.

3. You must also understand that you are harming yourself by eating or drinking fake sugar.

Not only are these low-calorie or no-calorie sweeteners loaded with harmful chemicals, but they also perpetuate your sugar addiction. That's because they stimulate your craving for sweetness. They put the taste of sweet in your mouth and on your mind and make you constantly crave more sweet, including the high-calorie kind.

In other words, if you drink Diet Coke instead of water, you are much, much more likely to indulge in cake, cookies, candy and so on, because Diet Coke tastes sweet and spurs that craving for more sweets.

So stay away from anything that tastes sweet, including gum and all other forms of artificial sweeteners.

4. Remember even fruit is sweet and, just like all sweets, will make you crave more sweets, and not necessarily more fruit, but other types, like bakery items. You may think fruit is good for you, and it is, but it is still sweet.

Stay away from fruit juices altogether. If you still want raw fruit, say an orange, just remember the fiber and vitamins can be found in vegetables that are a lot less sweet than fruit.

5. Another helpful hint is realizing refined carbohydrates are just like sugar. Put bread, pasta, rice, tortillas, english muffins, bagels, hot dog buns, hamburger buns and cereal in the same category as ice cream and chocolate. This is because refined carbohydrates trigger the exact same response inside your body.

Have you ever noticed how you crave carbs? Ever notice your addiction to carbs? That's the sugar response. So stop eating foods that are white and starchy. Cut way, way back on your carb intake.

The best carbs are the ones that are very low glycemic, such as vegetables, but not the starchy vegetables like corn and potatoes, the high fiber ones like spinach, green beans, broccoli, and peppers.

6. The best way to refrain from sugar and refined carbohydrates is to stay away from processed foods. I know this is a daunting task for most people because processed food is so incredibly delicious and it's cheap and oh, so convenient.

In today's busy world, you might feel like you have to eat processed food because you don't have the time or the money to do otherwise. But please reconsider. Remember the momentary pleasure of convenience, taste or cheapness will cost a bundle down the road in terms of your health and your health costs.

If you come up with creative ways to eliminate sugars and refined carbohydrates as well as high-glycemic carbs from your diet, ones that fit your personal lifestyle, it will pay dividends in the long run.