Saturday, 12 February 2011

Giving Up Sugar? How To Lose Sugar Cravings

Sugar shakerIf you've made the decision to start cutting down on sugar, then congratulations. Whatever your reasons, cutting down on the amount of sugar you eat can greatly reduce your risks of all sort of illnesses, including diabetes type II, heart disease and of course weight gain.

However, giving up sugar isn't easy. Not only is sugar highly addictive, it's found in an enormous range of foods we commonly buy, even those we think are healthy.

You can, of course, switch to sugar alternatives. But even natural sweeteners, such as honey, will have the same effect on blood sugar levels as sugar. If you're determined you want to give up sugar altogether, it can be done.

Just like giving up tobacco and other addictive substances, it takes time. Fortunately, it only takes about 10 days for your taste buds to become used to less sugar. However, since your body won't be getting that instant sugar fix, you'll need to replace it using other foods.

This can be done by eating little and often and avoiding refined carbohydrates. This means no white bread, cakes, biscuits etc. Munch on nuts and seeds for essential healthy fats, as well as berries with low fat, plain yogurt and some protein snacks to keep hunger away. As you blood sugar levels return to normal, you'll stop getting those lows where you crave something sweet.

Adding sugar to food and drinks is also a habit that many of us learned from an early age. Like any other habit, it is possible to 'unlearn' a habit and retrain your tastebuds.

Remember the 3 / 6 / 36 rule:

It takes 3 weeks to break a habit;

It takes 6 weeks to learn a new one;

And it takes 36 weeks for your new habit to become a way of life.

If, for example you have 3 sugars in your coffee, start by using one less. Get used to that. Keep on decreasing until you can do without.

Alternatively, if you find it really impossible to give up sugar completely, try switching to something healthier, such as Stevia or xylitol. Xylitol has a low GL (glycemic load) which means it takes longer to break down and won't raise blood sugar levels so quickly. This is what happens when you eat a lot of sugar.

You experience sudden highs and dips in blood sugar which is so dangerous. It makes you hungry too soon after eating, causing extreme cravings for sweet, or high fat food. This has the knock on effect of depleting energy levels in the afternoon.

The white stuff is something many of us should actively look at reducing. Don't forget to check for sugar in processed foods. This includes flavoured yogurts, crisps, sweet pickles, jams, even bread and crackers.

Check out my nutrition guide for the dietary guidelines on the maximum recommended about of sugar we should be eating - includes details for men, women and children.

Related Articles you may be interested in:

Low Sugar Breakfast Cereals
Low GL Diet 
Stevia - Natural Sweetener - Read Post

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