As human beings, we all have specific weaknesses when it comes to food, and for many of us, anything that contains sugar satisfies our cravings and gives us comfort when we need it most. If you go into any store nowadays and read the labels on packaged food, you’ll find it contains sugar in some form and usually in ENORMOUS amounts. For example, a bottle of soda can have more than 50G of sugar, which far surpasses the recommended amount of sugar for the average adult.
In today’s world, where we can get a sugary concoction of artificial ingredients at any corner store or restaurant, staying away from this toxic additive in food can become quite the challenge. However, trying our best to at least cut back on sugar can prevent diseases such as diabetes, strokes, cancer, cardiovascular disease, heart disease, obesity, and more. In recent years, food companies have replaced added fats with sugars to follow health trends, but research proves that sugar, not fats, has contributed far more to the decline of people’s health at large.
However, even if you’ve been consuming sugars, you can quickly reverse the harmful side effects by severely cutting back your sugar intake. Many diets take a while to show results, but cutting out added sugars can bring results in as little as ten days. In a new study that included children, researchers saw dramatic improvements in the children’s health in just over a week.
These Things Happen To Your Body When You Go Without Sugar For 10 Days
Dr. Robert Lustig and his team of researchers from the University of California, San Francisco, noticed a decrease in triglyceride levels by 33 points on average. The LDL (bad) cholesterol dropped 5 points, and diastolic blood pressure. In only ten days, all children who participated in the study dramatically decreased their risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.
Even though this study only includes children, we can only assume that this would work on adults.
However, we’d like to clear something up before we move forward. Many people assume that ALL sugars cause adverse health, but we do need sugar to survive. The key is to consume the RIGHT kind of sugars from whole, plant-based foods. These sugars occur naturally, and our bodies can assimilate and digest them perfectly. The problem exists when we extract sugars from plants and put these “food-like substances” into processed foods. Added sugar does not have any nutritional value whatsoever, so the body recognizes the calories but does not know how to convert the energy into a usable form. Thus, we see rampant cases of diabetes, cancer, heart disease, etc., in modern society.
Also, not all calories perform the same way in the body. Added sugar causes your insulin levels to spike, which happens even with natural sugars. However, over time, your insulin response will become damaged after consuming added sugars in large amounts and cause inflammation in the body. On the other hand, if you consume the same amount of calories in the form of broccoli, for example, your body will process it as actual energy since it contains the correct alkalinity and nutrients for us.
Food companies spend millions per year trying to convince us to buy their products, but truthfully, many of the food substances they sell have no nutritional value whatsoever. To put things simply, we should all make an effort to eat mostly whole, plant-based foods that our bodies have been designed to consume and try to steer clear of processed foods. Even if something says “low calorie” or “fat-free” on the label, it does not necessarily indicate a healthy option. In fact, many companies substitute sugar to conserve the flavor without adding extra calories or fat.
So, how much sugar should you consume?
For an average 2,000 calorie diet, the Heart and Stroke Foundation recommends that only 10% of our calories come from sugar or about 12 grams. Many products on the shelves, including sauces and dressings, come very close to or even exceed that amount with just one serving. So, when you go grocery shopping next, pay attention to the labels, and opt for whole foods as much as possible. While processed food comes at a lower price, you can’t put a price tag on health. Sure, it might cost significantly more to purchase fruits and vegetables, but think of it this way: you will save THOUSANDS on medical bills later in life, so which would you rather have?
Keep in mind as well that added sugars can hide under many different names and labels, so look out for the following when you go to the store: glucose/fructose, high fructose corn syrup, corn syrup, sucrose, maltose, dextrose, beet sugar, glucose solids, cane sugar, dehydrated cane juice, dextrin, and maltodextrin, among others.
Also, remember that our brain responds the same to sugar as it does to certain drugs, and some studies have even found sugar to be eight times more addictive than cocaine! With this in mind, hopefully, you will aim to make sugar a tiny part of your diet and fill your cart up with more living foods. Your body will indeed thank you in the long run!
8 Ways to Reduce Sugar Cravings
While cutting sweets out of your diet may seem complicated, it comes with great rewards. Here are some easy ways to help combat your sugar cravings and possibly lose a few pounds.
1. Fill up on Protein
You need between 46-and 56 grams of protein each day, which helps to fill you up and satisfy you. Strive to ensure each meal has about 20 grams of protein so that you don’t feel hungry and want to reach for sweets.
2. Be On the Look Out for Hidden Sugars
There are refined sugars in many beverages and foods that you don’t even realize. It would help if you ate your calories rather than drink them. Things like fruit juice are high in fructose, which will make you crave sweet things even more.
Opt for low-calorie and sugar-free beverages. Always read the label and know what hidden sweeteners are in what you’re eating.
3. Include Complex Carbs in Your Meals
There are two types of carbohydrates, which are complex and simple. You don’t want to fill up on simple ones as they will pack on the pounds and enhance your cravings. Complex carbs are the ones that will keep your cravings at bay, and you will find them in things like oats, cereal, whole wheat bread, and beans.
4. Find Sweet Alternatives
You can’t deprive yourself of everything sweet, or it could lead to binge eating. However, you can find alternatives that won’t kick your cravings into overdrive or affect your glucose levels. It’s okay to have a piece of cake once in a while, as long as you can control it.
5. Stay Hydrated
Did you know that many people reach for sweets when their body is craving water? The CDC states that people are severely water deficient, as they don’t drink anywhere near the required amounts.
They’ve found that teens, on average, drink about 15 ounces of water each day, and adults consume about 39 ounces, which is nowhere near the required amounts. Filling up and keeping your body hydrated can help to reduce unnecessary hunger too.
6. Eat More Often
It’s better to consume smaller meals more often than eat three large meals a day. It will help you keep your glucose levels in check, but it can help reduce cravings too. Many people reach for things in a hurry because they’re starving, and it’s often a vending machine or something from a convenience store during the workday.
Pack some healthy snacks with you and try to eat every two to three hours to keep binge eating at bay.
7. Chew Gum
Chewing sugar-free gum is a great option to keep you from indulging in sweet treats. A study released by The Pennington Biomedical Research Center shows that people who chew gum after lunch are way less likely to consume sugary sweets in the afternoon.
Plus, when the folks in the study did snack, the group that chewed gum ate fewer calories than those who didn’t chew any gum. Additionally, the chewing motion can help relieve anxiety, which is always helpful.
8. Switch to a Low Carb Lifestyle
While you need some carbs to survive, you can live on much less than what you’re eating. Try to stay below 300 carbohydrates each day to keep your cravings at bay. Diets like keto, paleo, and the Mediterranean are great for helping people with intense cravings to kick them to the curb.
12 Natural Sweeteners to Replace Sugar
An all-natural sweetener is an answer if you long for that sweet kick in your tea, coffee, or desserts. Avoid using sugar-alcohols that can make you sick when eating in abundance, but you should try some of these all-natural alternatives.
1. Monk Fruit
This fruit is known for its sweetness. This Southeast Asia wonder is way sweeter than the white crystals, so you only need a little bit to achieve the required sweetness. Plus, there are antioxidant properties, and the fact that it has zero carbs is also a benefit.
This alternative is made from the leaves of the stevia plant. It has no calories, so it’s great for diabetics and dieters alike. It can be used as a spoon as a sweetener to substitute of table-sugar with just about anything your heart desires.
This sweetener is made from birch trees, and it has forty percent lower calories than refined options. It’s dangerous for pets, so make sure you don’t let Fido have a taste of anything made with this sweetener. For you, it’s the perfect supplement to keep your glucose levels regular and your waistline slim.
4. Pure Maple Syrup
Pure maple syrup comes from extracting the sap from a tree. Now, don’t be confused by the syrup bottles on your shelves at the supermarket, as they are artificially flavored and not the real thing. By reading the labels and the price tag, you will know if you have the real maple variety, as it’s a bit pricey.
It’s great for people with diabetes as it has a low glycemic index, and when using it in a recipe, you need slightly less than you would traditional sweeteners. To substitute for one cup of table-sugar, you only need about three-fourths of a cup of maple syrup.
5. Raw Honey
Unlike refined sweetness, this natural product has antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties. It’s chocked full of vitamins and minerals that are healthy. Plus, the antibacterial and antifungal properties can’t be denied.
Another fact is that picking honey that’s harvested locally can also help with your allergies as bees pollinate on the flowers that aggravate your sinuses. You’re introducing your system to micro amounts of this pollen, which will help you build up a resistance to them.