I have a sweet tooth. A big one. So I understand the urge to get down on some decadent chocolate. The problem is moderation; the more I have it, the more I want it. Why is that? Because sugar can be addictive.
Our biological response to food is positive because it is essential to our survival, but over the years the amount of sugar and processed foods in the American diet has begun to re-program us to ingest and crave more sugar, whether we are aware of it or not.
Our Brains release a chemical called dopamine upon ingestion of sugar that our brain sees as a reward and makes us feel good. Our bodies also respond to the substance with a rush as our blood sugar level spikes to work hard to digest it. The problem is that shortly after this quick high of a positive energy boost and rush of endorphins, it quickly plummets as our pancreas produces insulin to balance us out. This rapid change in blood sugar causes us to feel drained and sluggish, therefore reaching for more sugar to get the high back. It's a vicious cycle.
The danger of sugar is that when we consume more sugar than our body needs, it results in weight gain, fatigue, cavities, high blood pressure, nutritional deficiencies, and higher risk of an assortment of diseases.
How to break the cycle.
You don't need sugar as much as you think you do. We have the ability to retrain our taste buds to to enjoy things that aren't as sweet. You don't have to give it up, but simply be aware of moderation and other healthy options to subsidize potential cravings.
1. Try eating fruit. Like berries, homemade pureed popsicles, dried fruits (without the added sugar) or a delicious Peel'd juice. Fruits are still sweet with natural sugar, but also have fiber and water to prevent the high blood sugar spikes of processed sugar.
2. Start with simple changes: cut out a little bit of sugar each week, swap fruit or vegetables for your afternoon snack, drink more water, or have a cup of tea with a touch of honey at night instead of dessert.
3. Eat protein and fiber. They help you stay full and energized longer and do not cause blood sugar spikes.
4. Get moving. Exercise it a healthy way to get a rush of endorphins, boost your energy, and relieve stress.
5. Read your labels. Sugar can be sneaky and is often a top ingredient in unsuspecting foods like: ketchup, spaghetti sauce, salad dressing, flavored drinks and coffees. Sugar can also go by other names; ones to watch out for are: brown rice syrup, dextrose, evaporated cane juice, glucose, molasses, sucrose and malt syrup. Sugar is sugar, and it it best to moderate consumption. One should aim to consume 100 or less calories of it per day.
I hope bringing awareness to your habits helps you to make healthy choices.
Remember, there is still room for that decadent piece of chocolate, but you may find you don't crave it as much as you used to.
Health is wealth.