Nutritionist and GoodnessMe Box Health Editor Melissa Fine explains why sugar is so addictive, and shares some tips for kicking the sugar habit.
1) It Can Create a Sense of Euphoria
…A short-lived one, that is. This is particularly the case with fructose, a sugar that’s highly concentrated in high fructose corn syrup, as well as honey and supposedly ‘healthy’ agave syrup.
Just one issue surrounding fructose is that it has the potential to ignite the brain’s reward centre; This might explain why so many of us have an almost out of body experience when we dig into a fructose-loaded food, finding it difficult to stop once we start.
2) It Encourages a Sweet Tooth
Food manufacturers sneak sugar into so many processed foods, training us as consumers to develop a taste for sweetness in whatever we’re having. Flavoured or ‘fruit’ yoghurt is a common culprit, as are foods that we associate with being savoury like BBQ sauce, salad dressings and stir fry sauces. Takeaway is often no better, with popular choices like pad thai and teriyaki salmon or chicken being loaded with the white stuff.
3) It Doesn’t Do Your Energy Levels Any Favours
For a short while, that handful of refined sugar-laden choc chip cookies will make your energy soar…15 minutes later though and it’s likely your blood sugar will come crashing down, so you go for another few biccies - and so the cycle continues.
“Help! How Do I Break My Sugar Habit?”
If you know that sugar’s not doing you any favours, yet you’re struggling to reduce your intake, here are three simple ways to break up with the sweet stuff:
1) Cut down on highly processed foods and make some healthy substitutions
Try tamari (wheat free soy sauce) and coconut oil in your stir-fry instead of sweet chilli sauce, and for a better-than-bottled salad dressing, a dessertspoon of pure tahini with a squeeze of lemon juice. With yoghurt, go for an unsweetened variety; Flavour it yourself with cinnamon and a little stevia - a natural, plant-based sugar free sweetener. The organic stevia blend from Natvia tastes just like sugar and doesn’t leave a chemically aftertaste like artificial sweetener.
2) If you’re craving something sweet, have a piece of fruit
Although it contains sugar and sometimes in the form of fructose, remember that fruit is a wholefood and that it’s sugar content hasn’t been isolated. Plus, with fruit comes blood sugar stabilising and filling fibre, as well as vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. For a balanced snack, try an apple, pear or some strawberries with a handful of raw nuts or a tablespoon of almond butter.
3) Don’t go cold turkey
Try weaning yourself off sugar instead to make the transition easier, as cutting out all sugar from the get-go is more likely to result in withdrawal symptoms, sugar cravings, and a subsequent sugar binge.
Gotten into the habit of having a sugar in your tea?
You could start by having half, instead of a whole teaspoon with your cuppa for one week, then a quarter of a teaspoon the following week, until you’re down to none...Or, swap the sugar with a stevia blend like Natvia, for sweetness without the sugar.