Do you suffer from a sugar addiction? Do you get started with one candy and as you watch your favorite show, you find you have eaten the whole bag? Do you enter a bakery to buy those dinner rolls, and see some wonderful, rich looking brownies? Next thing you know you have eaten four of them and only have two to take home? Do you need sugar busters now?
A huge number of Americans suffer from a sugar addiction. Studies have shown that foods with a higher glycemic index, and sugar has a GI of 65 , have a positive effect on the regions of the brain associated with reward.
If we are rewarded for eating something, we tend to eat more, and more!
It helps explain why over 70 % of Americans are overweight and nearly one in two have type 2 diabetes or pre-diabetes. Unfortunately sugar is also “hidden” in a lot of foods we eat. Unless we train ourselves to read the labels, we may be eating too much sugar when we are not aware.
What are the dangers of eating too much sugar?
• Weight gain
• Impaired absorption of other essential nutrients
• Cardio-vascular disease
• Type 2 diabetes
• Increase in dental cavities
What is Sugar?
Most carbohydrates that you are eating will break down into glucose in your bloodstream. For example, a baked potato has an even higher GI than sugar at 85 and that morning plain bagel has a GI of 72. These carbohydrates also break down into glucose not long after you eat them.
• Glucose – honey, fruits and berries contain glucose in pure form. Manufactured energy drinks are also mainly glucose. Glucose becomes blood sugar with no processing and has a GI value of 100
• Sucrose – is the white table sugar. It contains two sugar molecules, both glucose and fructose with a GI of 65.
• Fructose – fruit sugar which is half fructose and half glucose. It does not go directly into your bloodstream. It goes first to your liver where it is completely converted to glucose and then enters your bloodstream or is stored as glycogen for your body to use later. It has a low GI of 23
• Lactose – half glucose, half galactose. Galactose is very similar in structure to fructose. The galactose is also stored in the liver as glucogen and the glucose enters the bloodstream directly. Thus the GI is 46.
• Maltodextrin – is a longer chain of glucose molecules called a polysaccharide. This sugar is often used in weight gain supplements with highly concentrated calories. it is easy to digest and has a GI value of 105.
• Maltose – is made of two glucose molecules and has a GI of 105. It enters the bloodstream faster than glucose.
What is the vicious sugar cycle?
• Our stomach releases a hormone called ghrelin that makes us feel hungry and crave sweets
• The reward center in the brain then sends a message that we need more dopamine that is responsible for feelings of pleasure and reward.
• To get more dopamine we need to consume sugar, food, drugs or alcohol
• We eat more sugar or have a drink of alcohol, our body is rewarded, and we start the reinforcing loop
Unfortunately studies have shown that some of us are more influenced by ghrelin and thus consume more sugarand/or alcohol. This is not our fault, but does mean we need to find ways to stop this cycle.
• Commit to not eating sugar for one week. In one week your ghrelin levels will decrease to where it will be easier to resist sweets.
• Increase your dopamine levels with other pleasurable activities like spending more time with friends, drinking an herbal tea, listening to your favorite CD.
• Eat carbohydrates with a low GI level
• Eat more protein than you usually do
• If you must have something sweet, choose honey, a natural sweetener or some dried fruit in mixture of nuts for a snack.
• Eat fresh fruit
• Start reading food labels. You will be surprised with the amount of sugar in many packaged foods, and foods that you thought were healthy
Where is sugar hidden that we might not expect?
• Kellogg’s Special K Multigrain = 15% sugar
• Kellogg’s All Bran Regular = 16% sugar
• “Light” foods such as yoghurt = check the label as usually more sugar
• One piece Sushi often has more sugar than we should have in a day
• Sodas and many juices unless pure fruit juice
• Sport Drinks are almost pure sugar
What helps in becoming sugar free ? Easy weight loss tips
• Change your lifestyle to reduce the stress
• Get at least eight hours sleep a night
• Avoid caffeine in the evening
• Increase your level of exercise, go for a walk each evening
• Eat low carb foods, protein, fruits and vegetables
• Drink at least 8 glasses of water each day
• Cook your meals from fresh and avoid packaged foods
• Spice up your foods for taste, and cut out the sugar
• Allow yourself a treat once in a while
If you feel you need a sugar substitute be sure to read my post on the best sugar alternatives here.