Licking… Sugar Addiction
Q: What can I do about my ‘sugar addiction’? During the holidays I get really stressed and eating sweets and starchy foods seem to calm me down.
A: You nailed it on the head…sugar and bread-starches are “comfort foods” that help calm you down through the action of the brain chemical serotonin. The problem is that serotonin does not stay elevated long enough to keep you satisfied, hence the addiction!
According to USDA diet surveys, sugar consumption is out of control in America with the average American consuming 20 teaspoons of added sugar daily, compared to the 10 teaspoon limit recommended. To compound the problem, this added sugar does not include the sugar naturally found in fruits and milk or the foods that turn to sugar upon entering our mouth, such as processed refined carbohydrates, breads, pastries, bagels, pasta, crackers, etc.
Here are some sugar shockers: Sugared soft drinks represent the single largest source of added sweeteners in the American diet. A 12-ounce can contains 11 or more teaspoons of sugar. More sweet shocks: Heinz Ketchup, (2 Tbs.) 2 tsp.; 2 oz Snickers Bar, 6 tsp; Lucky Charms (1 cup), 3 tsp; McFlurry with M&M’s, 18 tsp; Cinnabon (or similar cinnamon roll),, 12 tsp; Odwalla Lemonade (16 oz), 12 1/2 tsp.; candy corn (3 oz,, 1/5 of a small bag), 17 tsp; Starbucks Grande Caramel Mocha (12 oz), 45 teaspoons of sugar, OUCH!
Most people don’t take sugar addiction seriously. I mean really, how dangerous can a second helping of birthday cake be? But the truth is that over time, excessive sugar robs bodies of the essential nutrients and vitamins that ward off tooth decay, obesity, diabetes, stroke, cancer, heart disease, PMS, fatigue, attention and concentration problems, as well as a depressed immune system, leaves you more susceptible to infections and illness. Do you need any more reason to limit sugar intake?
To get on top of your sweet tooth, try the following-
- Read labels: replace fruit juices with real fruit. This alone will provide more fiber and reduce sugar by about 10 teaspoons.
- Fill up on fruits, veggies, and 100% whole grains before you touch any sugary foods, and do not eat sugar on an empty stomach. Sugar on an empty stomach is a recipe for food cravings and fatigue.
- Start your day with a higher protein breakfast such as an English muffin with Canadian bacon and cheese; whole grain pancakes with cottage cheese; low-sugar yogurts, eggs omelets (scrambled or boiled), fresh fruit with yogurt or cottage cheese, or cheese sticks with Oatmeal. If you’re on the go, try protein shakes, smoothies, or whole fruit energy drinks low in sugar.
- Try to eat high fiber daily and strive to eliminate “white foods.”
5. Get protein in at each meal.
- Drink water all day/ Shoot for 60 ounces daily.
- Tell yourself you are worth the time it takes to eat right. Remember, you only get one chance at treating yourself well with food.
- One free day per week, ENJOY!