We all know about the negative effects of sugar - weight gain, increased blood pressure and high cholesterol levels - plus a higher risk for diabetes, cancer and heart disease.
Some dieticians recommend scaling your intake down over time, others recommend going cold - turkey. It depends on the addict, which option you choose.
Scientists have found that sugar is addictive and stimulates the same pleasure centers of the brain as cocaine or heroin. Just like those hard-core drugs, getting off sugar leads to withdrawal and cravings, requiring an actual detox process to wean off.
It’s not uncommon to find yourself feeling a mess for a day or so into a sugar detox. Princeton researchers who fed rats sugar water discovered that they ended up bingeing on it. When the rats were deprived, their feel-good brain chemical dopamine dropped, and they suffered from anxiety and the shakes. Headaches, blah mood, anxiety, & fatigue are all symptoms that can occur during a sugar detox.
To prove that sugar effects your taste buds, Kaiser Permanente’s California facilities carried out a study on 20 people and asked them to cut out all added sugars and artificial sweeteners for two weeks. As a result, their tolerance for that sweet taste completely changed. 95% of subjects reported that the foods and drinks they used to consume now tasted “sweeter.” Over 50% reported that the intense cravings stopped after two to three days, and 87% no longer felt withdrawal effects after six days.
There are other benefits too. Not only will you require less sugar to feel satisfied,you’ll appreciate the flavors of food more.
Ways to Fight Addiction
Substitute whole fruit for sweets.
Fruit contains fructose, which is metabolized differently than the sugar in gummy bears, and it’s still satisfying. But be careful to restrict your intake to a few servings a day. Eating too much fruit can increase belly fat, which, in turn, increases the chance of type 2 diabetes.
Ditch artificial sweeteners.Although diet soda or sugar-free gum can help many dieters get through a rough patch, the aspartame, sucralose, saccharine, and even stevia, can make you desire sweet food.
Cleaning out any sugary temptations at home and work will remove temptation. Willpower doesn't have to work quite so hard when temptation isn't there!
Create a backup plan.If sugar cravings feel uncontrollable, think of distractions - what will help you overcome them. Go for a walk, eat some fruit, listen to music - whatever rocks your boat!
Manage your magnesium levels.
Craving chocolate? This may be due to a deficiency in magnesium. Eat plenty of leafy green vegetables, tofu, legumes and nuts.