- Appropriate diet and enough sleep are some of the ways to beat the craving
It is no secret how addictive sugar can be. Sugar is as addictive as nicotine, making smoking cigarettes just as harmful as your daily chocolate habit.
Unfortunately, many abuse sugar as a means of emotional distraction, leading to major health issues through the course of their life.
Excessive sugar intake has been linked to diabetes, weight gain, inflammation, gut issues, skin issues, heart disease, and many more ailments.
Furthermore, sugar speeds up your body’s natural aging process.
The consumption of sugar stimulates the production of collagen-damaging Advanced Glycation End Products (AGEs) which contribute to fine lines and wrinkles. Basically, sugar not only contributes to acne but also makes you look older than you are.
But what makes sugar so addictive?
Well, when one consumes sugar it activates a discharge of dopamine. Dopamine is the “feel-good” neurotransmitter as it provides a brief sense of pleasure.
You might end up eating the entire box of chocolates instead of stopping at one or two chocolate truffles because you want to extend that quick boost of dopamine.
Sugar cravings usually communicate either imbalanced hormones, lack of sleep, nutritional deficiency, dehydration, and more.
How to beat your sugar addiction?
Firstly, one must prioritise sleep in order to keep hormones in balance. Specifically, ghrelin - the hunger hormone and leptin, the hormone that makes you feel full.
A lack of quality sleep increases ghrelin and decreases leptin which may lead to a sugar binge.
Additionally, sleep is important to avoid drops and rises in your blood sugar.
Blood sugar dysregulation can make sugar cravings worse, it is advisable therefore to get at least 7 or more hours of sleep every night.
A diet that lacks certain nutrients may lead the body to compensate and fall back on sugar as its source of energy. One of the most important nutrients to combat sugar cravings is magnesium.
Dietary sources of magnesium include pumpkin seeds, spinach, almonds, and cashews.
Low serotonin levels in the brain can also provoke sugar cravings so it is essential to consume plenty serotonin-rich food like chicken for vitamin B, eggs for vitamin D, and salmon for omega-3 fatty acids.
Drinking lots of water is also essential to stay hydrated throughout the day as dehydration can drive sugar cravings.
Another way is to replace refined sugar and artificial sweeteners with natural sweeteners such as maple syrup, honey, coconut sugar, and gur (unrefined sugar). Also, try to use fresh, local fruit as a replacement for cookies, cupcakes, candy and more.
Natural sugars do not lead to premature aging as refined sugar does.
After detoxing from processed sugars you might notice clearer skin, a slimmer waistline, less water retention, no brain fog, improved immunity, and natural, sustained energy without the constant dips.
The writer is a certified functional nutritionist