A little sweetness often brings happiness to my day. I used to be a super huge, latte and Frappuccino drinker and thought it was the caffeine that brought me back over and over. I knew these beverages contained sugar but didn’t really realize just how much sugar I was consuming. As it turned out, the caffeine wasn’t what I craved: instead, I had a major sugar addiction.
Sugar activates dopamine in our brains and that makes us feel happy. But the more we eat, the more we need to get a similar reaction and before long, we’re consuming larger and larger amounts of sugar. Ditching a sugar addiction isn’t easy. I went cold turkey and withdrawal symptoms came on hard and fast. I even found myself stirring my child’s birthday cake icing into my coffee. I wasn’t proud of that but it was only then that I realized how much of a hold sugar had over me and I was determined to beat it and create new healthy habits.
Here are 5 sweet ways to curb your cravings and get out from under the addiction:
1. Plan for cravings. Don’t find yourself stirring icing into your coffee like I did. Instead, have something ready for when you feel the sugar cravings take over. Raisins worked well for me. I’d have 10 raisins and the craving would pass. Dark chocolate also helped. One or two squares of good quality dark chocolate was just enough to satiate a craving.
2. Instead of sugar in your coffee, try vanilla. It took some time, but I can now drink my coffee without any sugar at all.
3. Honey, maple syrup and coconut sugar all fall lower on the glycemic index than white sugar. That means consuming those causes our bodies to release insulin at a slower rate than if we were to eat white sugar. Now, I replace white sugar with honey in most of my cooking. Remember to be aware of how much you consume and limit your intake during the process of kicking a sugar addiction. Honey is still sugar.
4. Watch other starches. Starches like potato, rice and white flour have a high glycemic index and turn to glucose quickly – just like sugar. Quitting sugar only to consume more starch is not getting you further ahead.
5. Remember that moving past a sugar addiction is a process. And a difficult one at that. So treat yourself with grace and care as you go through it. If you slip up as I did now and then, just remember that the work will be worth it in the end and keep moving towards your goal.
Now, two years later, my tastes have changed dramatically. I can no longer consume those sweet caffeinated drinks and feel that they taste terrible. I can choose a sweet treat, enjoy it, and not have perpetual cravings clawing at me all day. More importantly, I know that my overall health is better for the choice I made to overcome sugar and that's something that truly makes me happier!
Heather Eigler is a long-time blogger (10+ years!) and social media enthusiast. She lives and works out of her home just west of Calgary with her husband and two small children.
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