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Published on March 15, 2018

bowls of sugar

How Do You Fight Sugar Addiction? With Science

The battle to beat cravings is not just about will-power.

Actual scientific research shows that sugary foods release chemicals in our brain, and those chemicals make us feel good. The problem is that feel-good quick-fix just doesn’t last. In fact, sugar buzzes can disappear within minutes, and when our blood sugars plummet, we feel lethargic and brain fuzzy. We feel even worse than before we gulped down that sugary treat.

We know sugary foods are unhealthy, but our bodies are smart, and they know sugar is such a quick fix for energy. That’s why we find ourselves, almost as if directed, to seek sources that repeat the cycle.

With a better understanding of the activity mind and body are conducting, now we can bring in a strategy, and it’s not just about vigilance. It’s about mindfulness. What’s that? It’s really boiled down to a simple phrase:

Wherever you are: be there!

That comes back to food as well, because we can all recall at least one time where we just kept snacking until ta-da! The bag of chips was empty or the last cookie in the package was devoured.

If we look at the work of Alexandra Jamieson, the co-creator of “Super-Size Me," we can see the four specific roots of our cravings for sweets:

  • Bacterial
  • Nutritional
  • Emotional
  • Physical

Cravings are real and being mindful is the first step. You can work on the why once you figure out the “when” question. Mindfulness can help you – you’re on guard against your craving and can stop yourself. Here’s how to put up your defenses and be prepared for the onslaught that is sugar addiction:

  1. Eat whole foods: When our bodies get what they need and we eliminate processed foods, we are better fed and cravings will subside. Evaluate what you eat, not just at breakfast or lunch – but every bite (and drink) of the day, from waking until bedtime. Ask yourself: Will you receive nutrition from this bite or drink? Or is it just empty calories?
  2. Clean out the garbage: What’s an easy way to make sure you don’t have another soda? Don’t have it around. When you are tired and run down after a long day, you’ll be less apt to resist and you won’t have energy to fight yourself. So do an inventory and rid your house of the sweets, treats, soda – anything that won’t help you eat better. Get that stuff out of your house.
  3. Shop well and mindfully: Plan all your meals and a big step is to plan the one you have before you hit the store. That’s a no-brainer – right? So we need to stop, plan and make our lists ahead of time. And eat well before you go so you can stick to your list.
  4. Journal your food intake the night before: Sounds like work, but we all know nothing good comes without a bit of effort. Yes, you can be prepared! At the end of the day, when all is settled, get out your journal or use a free app like MyFitnessPal and track your meals from the day as well as your plans for the next. Whatever works for you, do it, but aim to always be one day ahead. It should only take five minutes, and yes, sure, it may take a bit more time to learn the program or figure out the format that works for you. But if you get into a routine, it will only take a few minutes. You can do it because many others have done the same.
  5. Choose sweet vegetables for your sweets and allow yourself fruits at least twice a day. God’s candy should be in our daily plan.
  6. Mindfulness: Be ever aware of marketing strategies that seek to sway your self-control. You must put yourself in control. Read labels to ensure you’re picking healthy foods, and learn about the unhealthy foods that may seem good for you. For example, whole-grain sounds great, but it doesn’t mean you won’t gain weight eating too much of it. All carbohydrates are sugars, so be mindful of all of them, and aim to keep numbers in a healthy range. If you don’t, you will gain weight.
  7. See a nutrition health coach to really figure out how to master your metabolism. We have them right here at Avera.

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