As we ravenously guzzle our sugary food of choice, our body slowly calms, relaxes as we continue to devour our addiction. Unsurprisingly, this is the physiological reaction we get from a sugar hit. This is because sugar triggers the release of serotonin, otherwise known as the feel good neurotransmitter. As well as stimulating the release of serotonin, sugar also liberates endorphins from their hiding place. Endorphins help us to feel happy, calm and relaxed - the same hormone that is released during exercise.
In addition to all the physiological rewards sugar presents us with, it tastes good too – who wouldn’t, therefore crave sugar? Why wouldn’t we reward ourselves with a sweet treat for a good deed?
The problem however, is not the small sweet treat we give ourselves every now and then, the problem lies when we over consume and reward ourselves one too many times. In today’s society, this has become all too easy as sugar is everywhere, in every corner shop, in many processed foods, we often eat sugar without knowing.
Why Should we get off Sugar?
- Sugar causes an imbalance of the good gut bacteria;
- Sugar can contribute to obesity and tooth decay;
- Foods that deliver copious amounts of sugars such as cakes, sodas etc, deliver few, if any, other nutrients. Sugars, if eaten in high amounts can contribute to nutrient deficiencies by displacing other nutritiously dense foods.
- Researchers agree that a high intake of sugary foods can alter blood lipids;
- Sugar contributes to weight gain.
How Should we get off Sugar?Withdrawing from sugar doesn’t always have to be a battle. There are a few simple rules when steering beyond a world known as the ‘sugar fix’:
- Make a conscious decision to improve your health and wellbeing by making a conscious decision to slow down the sugar hits;
- Rather than downing the whole chocolate bar in one session, eat a smaller amount of what the craving is. By doing this, the feeling of being denied won’t be so prominent in the mind;
- Combine the nutritious with the not so nutritious. I always find that if I feel like something sweet to eat, I grab and apple or banana and dip it in some melted organic chocolate, organic chocolate sauce or honey. This way I am getting the nutrients plus managing my craving. I also have a soft spot for chocolate almonds, but am very careful not to polish off the bag in one sitting;
- Going cold turkey works for some people but not for others. Although the first 2-3 days tend to be really arduous, some people find that they have completely lost their craving for sugar after this time. Others, however, find they may still have a sugar craving, but over time their taste buds are able to be trained to be satisfied with a smaller portion;
- I also find reaching for fruit instead of chocolate or sweets gives me the same satisfaction with 100% more nutrients;
- It is important to really focus on the sugar cravings and really think about the food you are putting in your mouth. Your brain is a very powerful tool and can guide you in all sorts of directions. When you feel that urge for sweet coming on, literally talk to yourself. ‘Do I need this? Why do I want this?’ Very often, it is not something you actually feel like but rather out of habit or emotional satisfaction.
- Walk away and be innovative, focus on something different rendering it a distraction.