Survival Guide for the Sugar Addict
For years I've been explaining to clients that a sugar addiction is every bit as real as a drug or alcohol addiction for some. In the documentary "Fed Up," Dr. Mark Hyman cites research that shows that sugar is EIGHT TIMES more addictive than cocaine. Wow! If that doesn't convince you that sugar can hijack your brain and lead to compulsive binging I don't know what will. So here are a few of my survival tips for those of you who feel like you're under the alluring spell of sugar.
- Just say HELL NO to refined sugar - eating that white stuff in processed foods (and by the way, it's in almost ALL processed foods) keeps the sugar craving cycle active. Doing a sugar detox can be challenging at first, but it's one of the only ways I know for a sugar addict to truly break free. Start by reading ingredient lists and look for words like sucrose, evaporated cane juice, and high fructose corn syrup. Put those products right back on the shelf and head to the produce section of the market. Load up on some fresh fruit to curb the sugar cravings until you get the over the hump.
- Eat breakfast every day - preferably within one hour of rising and before coffee. I know, I know, that's a tall order when you're relying on coffee to wake you up, but drinking coffee first masks hunger cues and leads to overeating and sugar cravings later in the day. Try a savory breakfast with plenty of protien and some high-fiber veggies (e.g. 2 eggs scrambled with mushrooms, peppers, kale, and broccoli).
- Eat every 3-4 hours - you'll prevent your blood sugar from crashing and causing severe carbohydrate (and caffeine) cravings in the afternoon. Try hummus and veggies, apple and almond butter, yogurt with berries, a pear with a handful of walnuts, or tapenade with veggies.
- Hydrate between meals - sip on plain old water, fruit infused water, or tea throughout the day, before and after meals.
- Seek out healthy non-food ways to cope with emotions - although sugar may give you that temporary surge of dopamine, it's not sustainable and your brain will not be satisfied with just one hit. So look for other ways to light up the pleasure center of your brain and reduce stress naturally, like painting, writing, dancing, singing, running, spending time with a loved one, or just simply breathing. Figure out what feeds your soul and get more of that in your life.