For many years we’ve called it a “sweet tooth”, and most people know about the dangers of excessive sugar intake and tooth decay. Tooth decay is the most chronic childhood disease in America, according to the American Dental Association.
But over the last few years we’ve also heard that sugar can actually be an addiction. And sugar can do many dangerous things to your health, besides tooth decay.
A study by the Journal of Psychoactive Drugs published in 2010 found that sugar releases euphoric endorphins in some people’s brains in a manner very similar to that of a drug addict’s.
The full scope of drug addiction symptoms have been observed in people with sugar addiction:
- Escalating levels of tolerance
- Withdrawal symptoms
We’re not going to sugarcoat it — excessive sugar consumption puts your body at risk for many dangerous conditions:
- tooth decay
- high blood pressure
- high cholesterol
- liver disease
That’s quite a list! Take control of your sweet tooth (or sugar addiction) by following these easy steps:
Eat breakfast. People who crave sugar are notorious for skipping breakfast. Kathleen DesMaisons, author of Potatoes Not Prozac, says that ninety per cent of sugar addicts skip breakfast.
Indeed, studies have long shown the benefits of eating a healthy breakfast, and eating breakfast prevents your blood sugar from dropping, which causes you to crave sugar later.
Choose fruit. Fruit is full of natural sugars, and can satisfy your sweet tooth. Fruit also contains fiber and complex carbohydrates though, which break down slower and don’t send the craving signal to your brain.
Choosing fruit instead of candy or something else sweet is a key step to kicking your sweet tooth habit!
Cut out soda. Many point to sugary sodas as the #1 source of empty calories in the American diet. The USDA says that 16% of calories in the typical American’s diet come from refined sugars and about half of those calories come from beverages that have added sugar.
If you drink a lot of soda, try to cut back progressively. Whatever amount of soda you drink, start by cutting that number in half. The next week, cut that number in half again, and keep doing that until you cut soda out completely.
Watch for hidden sugars. Hidden sugars are hiding in your refrigerator, cabinets, and pantry! Processed foods are quite often loaded with sugar. Tomato sauces, ketchup, and peanut butter can all be culprits.
Read labels, and be aware of how much you are eating, because these sugars add up quickly. Even better, purge these items from your pantry and replace with lower sugar versions. Just be careful not to choose artificial sweeteners, which can cause even further issues!
Use alternative natural sugars. Natural alternative sweeteners will tantalize your taste buds but are much better than plain table sugar.
Honey is a complex food and a good sugar alternative. One teaspoon of honey contains 25 other compounds including proteins, amino acids and trace minerals.
Agave is a distilled sweetener derived from the blue agave cactus and has a low glycemic index, so it won’t spike your blood sugar. It’s best to choose an organic raw blue agave, which is less processed.
Stevia comes from a plant native to South America. It’s low-cal and 200 times sweeter than sugar, so a little goes a long way. You might want to do some research before choosing a brand, as some have aftertastes that many people don’t care for.
It’s worth noting again that if you regularly consume high levels of sugar and decide to cut back, you could experience withdrawal symptoms. Headache, tiredness, mood swings and sugar cravings are all possible symptoms. Be prepared and have alternatives on hand when the cravings strike.
Your body and your dentist will thank you!